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The Shubunkin

the shubunkin

The shubunkin (Carrassius auratus) is a fish from the Cyprinides family with a shape similar to that of the common goldfish.  It is however smaller and more colourful.  It is of Chinese origin and likes living in still freshwater and in waterways with little curent.


Shubunkin are callicos, mostly bluish with long red markings and with smaller black markings scattered throughout their body.  There are three varieties of shubunkin : the Bristol, the American (more slender and with shorter fins than the Bristol) and the London shubunkin, slightly smaller again than the Bristol.  It has a shorter tail fins, narrower and less lobed than its Bristol cousin, whose fins can be up to half as long as the fish itself.  The pectoral and pelvic fins are even in number, whereas the dorsal, anal and tail fins are uneven.  Those of the female are generally more voluminous.

In its country of origin, the shubunkin lives in calm freshwater.  Its is resistant to the cold but not to strong frosts.  In suitable regions you can install it in your pond where it will feed on small elements found it the foil, which it loves exploring.  It is omnivorous and delights as much in mosquito larvae as in algae.  In cold regions it should be put into the aquarium in winter, making sure to provide a minimum of 20 litres of water per fish.  Feed it with pellets and chopped cooked vegetables.

Life Cycle

When the weather warms up in spring, the spawning season begins for the fish which have reached sexual maturity, that is, those aged about two years old.  The male is adorned with small white spots on its operculum as well as on the first stripe of its pectoral fins.

After a few encounters between male and femake, the female leaves her eggs where she can and the male fertilizes them by releasing his soft roe.  The eggs stick to nearby plants and surfaces.  Incubation can now begin and after three to six days, depending on the temperature of the water, larvae appear and the swimming bladder is allowed to develop.  This takes about 2 to 4 days.  The small fish will gather up enough strength to swim in order to look for food.  If the conditions are right it can live a long life, up to 20 years.


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