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Fantail Goldfish: Pictures, Care Guide, Varieties, Lifespan & More

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By Lindsey Stanton

Fantail goldfish

The Fantail goldfish is one of the most popular breeds of pet fish in the world! Are you a member of the “Fantail Fan Club?” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

If you are back from a recent trip to the pet store or have had one for a while now…or maybe just want to know more about that fascinating, shiny-scaled creature gliding gracefully through the water… You’ve come to the right spot, so READ ON!

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Quick Facts about Fantail Goldfish

Species Name: Carassius auratus
Temperature: 75°-80° F
Temperament: Docile
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Size: 6”-8”
Hardiness: Very Hardy

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Fantail Goldfish Overview

This is going to sound like an oxymoron, but the Fantail is the simplest of the fancy goldfish species. It doesn’t have any unusual features like bubble eyes, pom-poms on its nose, or brain-like wens that we see on other fish. And because it doesn’t have a ton of crazy stuff going on with its genetics…it is VERY hardy.

They can even do quite well living in ponds! However, they have a short body and double fins, so they are a bit more fragile than Common or Comet.

“Fantails” get their name from their double tail that is shaped kind of like a triangle when viewed from above. The Chinese name for them is “man-yu.” If the tail is extra long, the fish has what’s called a “ribbontail.” (But the fish is still considered a Fantail.)


The size this fish will reach depends on how well it was taken care of, but generally, they will reach an impressive 6 to 8 inches tip to tip. Some get even bigger. As far as colors go, metallic red (usually more of an orange) or yellow are the easiest to find. But there are also calico (which is really nacreous), red and white or even solid white.

This is How the Fantail Got its Tail!

All goldfish used to be slim-bodied fish like the Common – with one tail and one anal fin. So how did this fish end up with 2 of each?

Goldfish fins of non-fancies are actually made of a double-layer. But during the Ming Dynasty 600 years ago, a strange genetic mutation appeared…

The double layer of their tail fin and anal fin started to split apart and grow separately! Betcha didn’t know that one 😉

Early Fantail goldfish probably looked a lot like the Watonai variety before they were bred to have shorter bodies…

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3 Surefire Ways to Know if Your Fish is Actually A Fantail

So, how do you know if your fish is one of these kinds of fish – and not some other breed?

1. Egg-shaped body

Fantails fall into the category of “Fancy Goldfish,” which are known for their round, short bodies much deeper than their slim-bodied brothers. They were bred to be this way to look nice.

But here’s the catch: This actually gives their organs less space than their ancestors had, making them prone to swim bladder problems from their diet.

2. Double tail fins

Goldies like the Common (those little guys sold in bulk as feeders in pet stores) have one straight tail fin with 2 lobes on the top and bottom. Not this fish! They have 2 tails in one, split down the middle. This gives them 4 separate lobes… unless your fish is has a fused tail – lovingly known as “tripod.”

Quality specimens will have a good split down to the base of their tail.

3. Double anal fins

Granted, not all of these fish have them, but double anal fins are another clue that your fish is one.

(Anal fins are the fins closest to the tail underneath the fish).

4. No other fancy features

This breed is the “plain Jane” of the fancy fish category without all the showy characteristics other breeds have.

And this is exactly why some people love them – they like that down-to-earth look!

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How to Take Care of Your Fish Properly

This might surprise you: But Fantail goldfish are actually one of the best beginner fish. Because they are so hardy, they are much more likely to survive any mistakes new pet fish owners will probably make.

You will also want to make sure you have the equipment needed to take proper care of your pet. Which brings us to the first point…

Tank Size

One of the most typical places people keep their fish in is a goldfish bowl. BIG mistake. Bowls aren’t good homes for Fantails at all. Fish who live in them don’t usually last more than a few weeks.


Mostly because they get dirty waaaaay too fast.

While they don’t need nearly as much space to live like the Common, they do need to have the right tank size (meaning ta least 10-20 gallons per fish) to do well.

Remember…bigger is better!

Water Temperature

Like all fancy varieties, they do best in the temperature range of 75 to 80 degrees F. Good news: But because they are so hardy, they can be a little more flexible if need be. They have been known to even survive extreme temperatures, even into the 100’s! (NOT recommended.)

The most limiting factor with hot temps is dissolved oxygen in the aquarium.

If you're a new or experienced goldfish keeper who’s struggling to figure out the best temperature for your goldfish family, check out our best-selling book on Amazon, The Truth About Goldfish,  which covers everything about tank maintenance practices, maintaining optimum fish health, and more!

The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

This crucial aspect of the tank setup could be affecting your pet’s health more than you suspect.  which 

Are Fantail Goldfish Good Tank Mates?

Maybe your pet is longing for a fishy friend. What other fish can you keep with your Fantail? Good question.

Fantails are pretty competitive fish and do well with most other types of goldies, with maybe the best being other Fantails or Ryukins.

It is probably not the best idea to keep them with weaker or more visually impaired fish, such as Bubble Eyes or Celestial Eyes.

The bottom line? Please don’t put other kinds of fish in, like tropical fish, as they don’t mix well and can hurt your Fantail.

What to Feed Your Fantail Goldfish

Fantail goldfish are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter for their food. A balanced diet is really important to them, because with their rounder body shape they are prone to swim bladder trouble.

You can read more about their diet requirements in our feeding article.


Fun fact – they are one of the easiest kinds of Carassius auratus fish to breed! Of course, it’s still tricky business, but they can be helped along by giving them yummy treats like frozen blood worms or brine shrimp.

And when they do… You’d better be prepared for a LOT of babies! (Goldfish can have over 1,000 at a time.)

Wrapping it Up

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to caring for your Fantail. There just isn’t enough time to go into all the detail!

But good news – I wrote a complete care guide called “The Truth About Goldfish.” It contains ALL the information you need to make sure your fish doesn’t just survive but THRIVES.

I’m sure you want yours to live out its lifespan of 5-10+ years, right? 😉

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock

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