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Sabao Goldfish: Pictures, Size, Care, Tank Setup & More

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

gold and copper sabao goldfish

The Sabao Goldfish is a variety of single-tailed fancy goldfish that originates from Japan. They are often mistaken for Tamasaba Goldfish, although they are not the same fish. Sabao Goldfish are incredibly rare around the world, especially in the United States. If you are lucky enough to own a Sabao Goldfish, this article will guide you through their care requirements.

Size: Up to 12 inches long
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Similar Breeds: Ryukin, Fantail, and Syounai
Suitable for: All goldfish keepers
Temperament: Social, peaceful, and hardy

Sabao Goldfish can be distinguished by their single caudal (tail) fin and slight dorsal arch that is less prominent than the Tamasaba Goldfish. They are likely bred from the rare Syounai Goldfish and the popular Ryukin or Fantail. The Syounai is a single-tailed goldfish that is no longer commercially available, which is primarily why the Sabao Goldfish is so rare.

Due to the Sabao Goldfish’s rarity, there is little information available about this goldfish. However, we do know that Sabao Goldfish have the same lifespan and care requirements as other goldfish varieties.

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Sabao Goldfish Characteristics

Red and white sabao goldfish at the bottom of the tank
Image Credit: Keung, Shutterstock
Ease of Care

How Much Do Sabao Goldfish Cost?

The cost of a goldfish is usually a reflection of its rarity and availability, and the Sabao is an example of that. Although it is unclear at which time in history Sabao Goldfish first made an appearance, they did originate from the same ancestors as any other goldfish which is China. However, Sabao Goldfish were likely developed as a variety in Yamagata, Northern Japan.

The Sabao Goldfish is very rare to come across for sale, and few places sell true Sabao Goldfish. One of the varieties of goldfish used to create the Sabao Goldfish is reportedly no longer available as pets. Your best bet at finding Sabao Goldfish is from a reputable Japanese goldfish breeder.

If you do happen to find Sabao Goldfish for sale, they can cost a few hundred dollars. You can expect to spend around $150 to $500 for a Sabao, which is similar to other rare varieties of goldfish.

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Sociability of the Sabao Goldfish

Do These Fish Make Good Pets?

Like most goldfish, the Sabao can make a good pet for both new and experienced fish keepers. While the Sabao might be a type of fancy goldfish, they are as hardy and resilient as common goldfish. However, Sabao Goldfish are not going to make good pets for bowls or other small aquaria such as vases. You will need to keep them in either a spacious pond or fish tank as long as it is kept filtered.

Aside from their slightly demanding housing requirements, Sabao Goldfish are fairly low-maintenance pets. They are relatively healthy fish that have a decade-long lifespan with proper care and socialize well with other similarly sized goldfish.

Does This Fish Make a Good Tankmate?

The Sabao is a highly social and peaceful goldfish that is compatible with other fancy or common goldfish. Sabao Goldfish should rather be kept in pairs or groups of other goldfish than be alone. They benefit from the company of other goldfish, but not other types of fish.

Sabao Goldfish should ideally be kept with streamlined or single-tailed goldfish. This is mainly because Sabao Goldfish have a single tail fin and an elongated body that makes them fast and agile swimmers. They may compete with the more slow-moving and more delicate goldfish varieties for food. In some cases, Sabao Goldfish might bully the slower and smaller goldfish varieties by chasing them and nipping at their fins. However, Sabao Goldfish remain quite peaceful no matter which varieties of goldfish they are kept with, but some are better tankmates than others.

The Best Tankmates for Sabao Goldfish:
  • Fantail Goldfish
  • Ryukin Goldfish
  • Common Goldfish
  • Comet Goldfish
  • Tosakin Goldfish
  • Shubunkin Goldfish
  • Adult Mystery Snails

You want to avoid keeping Sabao Goldfish with tank mates like Bettas, tropical fish, shrimp, Cichlids, and any other large and aggressive fish species. Of course, never house Sabao Goldfish with any marine fish, since they have very different water conditions.

While most invertebrates like Nerite snails and shrimp are a live snack for Sabao Goldfish, adult mystery snails are an exception. Mystery snails can grow up to 2 inches as an adult, which is too large for most Sabao Goldfish to fit in their mouths and eat.

orange sabao goldifsh inside the tank
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

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Care Guide & Tank Set Up

Sabao Goldfish can be housed in both indoor and outdoor ponds or very large fish tanks. They require a minimum tank size of 40 gallons, with 10 to 20 gallons for every additional goldfish. Fully grown Sabao Goldfish can reach up to 12 inches in size, making them better suited for very large ponds or wading pools.

If you choose to keep your Sabao Goldfish in a tank, the rectangular ones are preferred. Goldfish require more horizontal than vertical swim space.

Water Quality, pH & Temperature

The key to keeping your Sabao Goldfish healthy and happy is by ensuring that they have good water quality. Sabao Goldfish are freshwater fish that do not tolerate salt in their water. They are cold or temperate water fish and have a wide temperature range, 65° to 75° (18° to 75° Celsius) Fahrenheit being ideal.

You do not need to use a heater in your Sabao Goldfish aquarium, but it might be necessary in some cases. If the water temperature frequently drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use a heater to keep their environment warm. The warmer the water is, the more aeration from a bubbler system your Sabao Goldfish needs.

Sabao Goldfish aren’t too picky about their water pH, but 6.0 to 8.0 is preferred. Another aspect of their water quality worth considering is the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate level. Sabao Goldfish should only be kept in fully cycled aquariums with an ammonia and nitrite level at 0 ppm (parts per million). Nitrates are more tolerable up to 20 ppm and anything more should be diluted by doing a partial 20% to 40% water change.


A substrate is optional for your Sabao Goldfish’s aquarium. Some goldfish keepers prefer to keep the bottom of the aquarium bare, especially if it is very large. If you do choose to use a substrate in their aquarium, there are multiple options to choose from. Sandy, quartz, and very fine gravel-like substrates are suitable for Sabao Goldfish.

Avoid any substrates that alter water chemistry, contain colorful dyes, or are large enough to get lodged in your Sabao Goldfish’s mouth. Large pieces of gravel or pebbles are a choking hazard for goldfish and should be avoided.

gold and copper sabao goldfish
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock


Live plants such as hornwort, java fern, java moss, and anubias can be incredibly beneficial for Sabao Goldfish. They help to naturally filter the water and keep it oxygenated while providing your Sabao Goldfish with a natural environment to explore. Most freshwater and cold-water plants are recommended for goldfish tanks and are generally ignored. However, curious Sabao Goldfish may occasionally nibble on live plants.


Natural or artificial aquarium lighting is necessary for Sabao Goldfish during the day. You should aim to keep their aquariums low to moderately bright for 6 to 12 hours each day. A period of darkness is necessary during the night for Sabao Goldfish to rest. You do not need to use a night light for their aquarium, even if it is said to mimic the natural moonlight they would experience in nature. Goldfish are unable to close their eyes to escape from the light since they do not have eyelids.


Goldfish are often described as messy fish with a high bioload, which is the amount of waste products they produce. A filter is an absolute necessity for Sabao Goldfish, regardless of whether they are kept in a tank, wading pool, or pond. Filters help to keep the water clean and moving since stagnant water is a no-go for goldfish.

You will need to run a suitable filtration system continuously, and there are various filters to choose from. The sponge filter happens to be one of the most popular filters for Sabao Goldfish. They are generally affordable, easy to maintain, and offer two methods of filtration (mechanical and biological). Other types of filters like the hang-on-back (HOB), canister, and internal filters are also commonly used for goldfish.

calico sabao goldfish
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Sabao Goldfish:

Food & Diet Requirements

A healthy and balanced diet is equally as important as good water quality for Sabao Goldfish. All goldfish are omnivores and thrive on a varied diet. The basis of their diet should consist of commercial goldfish food such as pellets, flakes, or granules. These foods should be offered to Sabao Goldfish at least once a day and no more than they can consume within 3 to 5 minutes. High-quality commercial goldfish foods are always going to be better than lower-quality foods, and you pay for the quality of the food.

Sabao Goldfish benefit from having live or freeze-dried foods like baby brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms for additional protein up to three times a week. They will also happily eat algae and spirulina wafers as an occasional snack. When prepared properly and with few or no additives, Sabao Goldfish can eat small pieces of blanched veggies like broccoli, de-shelled peas, and zucchini. Any fresh food should be removed after 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the water from fouling.

Size & Growth Rate

Sabao Goldfish can grow between 10 to 12 inches long as an adult. They are relatively fast-growing fish when kept in proper conditions. A spacious aquarium, balanced diet, and good water quality are necessary for Sabao Goldfish to reach their full adult size. It seems that most Sabao Goldfish grow larger in ponds rather than aquariums, but this is likely due to the water volume and quality.

It can take Sabao Goldfish around 4 years to become fully grown, but they may mature as young as 2 years old. It also helps to get your Sabao from a breeder that breeds for the quality of the fish, since this gives your Sabao a genetic advantage in terms of their growth and body shape.


The Sabao is a fancy goldfish variety that is the result of breeding single-tailed and fancy goldfish together. They are believed to be a mix of the Syounai Goldfish and fantail or Ryukin Goldfish. They have an elongated body that is slightly rounder than common goldfish, with a single caudal and anal fin. Sabao Goldfish have metallic scales that are usually red and white bicolor. Their colors should not overlap and have visible boundaries from where they end.

You can also find Sabao Goldfish in an orange or gold color, or with calico markings. Their tails can either be long or short, with short being preferred by most Sabao breeders.

Lifespan and Health Conditions

Sabao have the same lifespan as many other goldfish, which is between 10 to 15 years. It is not unheard of for some goldfish to live up to 20 years old with proper care.

They are fairly resilient goldfish that can easily adapt to life in outdoor ponds. However, Sabao Goldfish can develop certain health conditions that can be fatal without effective treatment.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Neurofibromas
  • Sunburn (in outdoor ponds)
Serious Conditions
  • Dropsy
  • Swim bladder problems
  • Ich or white spot disease
  • Gill flukes
  • Internal parasites
  • Fish lice
  • Ammonia toxicity
  • Velvet
  • Anchor worms

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Male vs Female

The main differences between male and female Sabao Goldfish are not really significant unless you plan to breed your fish. Male Sabao Goldfish generally have a slenderer appearance and pointier fins. Whereas the females have a rounder abdomen which may become lopsided when they carry eggs. Once mature, male Sabao Goldfish can show signs of breeding behavior which might be mistaken for aggression. This is because the males will chase the females around the aquarium to encourage them to spawn.

This behavior can be stressful for female Sabao Goldfish, especially if they do not have a safe space to hide away or are outnumbered by the males. It is a good idea to have a higher female-to-male ratio in goldfish aquariums.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Sabao Goldfish

1. Sabao Goldfish are incredibly rare and there is not much available information about them.

2. The most common color form seen in Sabao Goldfish is red and white.

3. The main reason Sabao Goldfish are so rare is that the goldfish variety used to create the Sabao Goldfish is no longer commercially available.


Final Thoughts

Although little is known about the true origins and care requirements for Sabao Goldfish, they still make popular pets. Sabao Goldfish are very rare and cannot be found in most pet stores. They are only available from a few select Japanese goldfish breeders and come with a hefty price tag. Sabao Goldfish are usually found in red and white coloration and can grow up to 12 inches long with the proper care.

Caring for a Sabao Goldfish is relatively simple, especially if you have previous experience with goldfish. The Sabaos’ hardy nature, resilience, and ability to adapt to life outdoors make them an excellent choice for ponds. They can be kept in standard rectangular aquariums above 40 gallons in size.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Keung, Shutterstock

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