How do I keep these shubunkins?


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A reader asks expert Jeremy Gay what is the best way to successfully keep shubunkins...

Photo credit: Neil Hepworth

Q) I’m looking for advice on keeping Bristol shubunkins. I’m experienced in keeping marines and tropical freshwater of various types over the years but have never kept goldfish, apart from fish in a bowl as a child before I knew any better. What would you recommend in order to keep these fish successfully in terms of tank size and filtration for 3-4 fish?


A) Jeremy says: Bristol shubunkins are beautiful fish and a credit to the British goldfish keepers who have selectively bred and perfected them over the decades. Very popular in the UK goldfish societies, how they are kept varies from aquariums to ponds, but when kept in aquaria the tanks are usually 120cm in length to allow for growth, lots of swimming activity, and the development of that gorgeous tail.

Bristol shubunkins are bred to a breed standard — very much like pedigree dogs — and the only place you can usually obtain them is via members of the British goldfish societies. They tend to sell off the ones that don’t have a perfect body shape, tail shape or colour, but they are still really high-quality fish, and when you purchase them, you will be buying into perhaps decades that the breeder has invested in that bloodline. The breeders are also the best people to advise on their care and reproduction.

An internal filter will be fine, but back it up with lots of partial water changes and an air pump. Arm yourself with a fluke treatment (all goldfish get flukes), and in order to achieve their best colour and to get them in the mood for spawning, place the tank where it will receive sunshine in the morning.