One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Goldfish: The Fantail

My beautiful fantail.
My beautiful fantail.

My name is Eugene Liu and in my column I hope to share my knowledge of fancy goldfish species through personal experience. I aim to teach and inspire you through my column so that you may be able take on a goldfish collection yourself. I am passionate about the lineage of fancy goldfish, but taking care of them takes more than just that. I’ll even reveal how to raise various types of fancy goldfish and learn their special traits.

For example, the carp is the great-ancestor of koi and goldfish. One of these goldfish is the fantail, which is the ancestor to all fancy goldfish. Common goldfish differ from fancy goldfish, which have unique characteristics that define them, like abnormally huge eyes, a humped back, strange finnage, etc. But the criteria to raise the fantail –– a common goldfish –– can be used as the foundation for taking care of fancy goldfish as well.

The fantail, as its name suggests, has a tail that can look like a spread fan if you look at it from the top. Its tail can vary in color and is prone to change. My fantail had one that was opaque white when I bought it two years ago, but is now streaked orange. Usually, its tail should be flowing, but if it isn’t, that is an indication that it may be sick. Though sometimes, when a fish is swimming, its dorsal fin (the fin along its spine) may fold downwards and press onto its back. On the other hand, the koi fish’s dorsal remains folded at all times. However, not all fancy goldfish have a dorsal fin, such as those of the ranchu and bubble-eye species (which I will be elaborating on in future posts). Goldfish also have other fins including the pectorals (the two in the front), pelvic fins (the two right under the belly), and anal fins. (Yes, the anal fins are the ones right under the fish’s anus).

Unlike many varieties of fancy goldfish, the fantail is a strong swimmer. In fact, it grows to be so hearty and powerful that it is not recommended that it be placed in the same tank as fancy goldfish. Though contrary to that last statement, I raised my fantail concurrently with a red-cap oranda –– a fish distinguished by a large red lump on its head –– and they were the same size. My fantail is now twice the size of my oranda. It grew at a quicker rate because it was able to get to the food faster, not only because it’s a faster swimmer, but also because it’s not slowed down by a mass of tissue attached to its head.

For feeding, you need to give your goldfish food one to five times a day. I feed mine twice a day –– once at breakfast time, and again at dinner. Feeding can be one of the most enjoyable things about this hobby, but it is also key to your fishes’ health. All fish hobbyists –– whether they are focused on goldfish or koi –– know that is better to underfeed than to overfeed. Fish will not stop eating, because they never feel full. Instead, they keep on eating until their stomachs literally blow-up. Secondly, fish excrete extra food, which is wasteful. What they don’t eat when they’re busy chewing will pollute the water, kill the fish, and clog your filtration system. A good rule of thumb is to feed your fish as much as they can eat in five minutes, and when that time is up, to scoop out the food with a net and dispose of it.

The fantail, like every goldfish, needs sleep. It is important to have an area where the water is calm in your tank. You should avoid having a filtration system that is so powerful that it sucks up the weight of your goldfish, or one that is badly misplaced, which creates large splashes and currents throughout the tank. You don’t want to make the fish struggle to swim in place.

Other than the hassle of changing the tank water weekly with a siphon tube to suck out all the goldfish waste, and cleaning the filtration system monthly, keeping goldfish is a fun experience that you should try! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. I would love to tell you more about how you can give your fish a happy life.

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