The Fantail Goldfish Breed Facts & Tips

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 πŸ˜‰

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!

I Want To Learn About:

So, What Exactly is a Fantail Goldfish?

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.

Get this:

“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.)

Like these…


This is interesting:

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.

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As far as colors go, metallic red (usually more of an orange) or yellow are the most easy to find.

But there are also calico (which is really nacreous), red and white or even solid white.

Quick Facts

  • Temperature: 75 – 80 degrees F
  • Species name: Carassius auratus auratus
  • Hardiness: Very hardy
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Size: 6 – 8 inches
  • Temperament:Β Docile


Fun fact – they are one of the easiest kinds of Carassius auratusΒ 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.)


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?

Get this:

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 πŸ˜‰

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


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.


(More on that in a minute.)

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!

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…

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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 as the Common, they do need to have the right tank size (meaning ta least 10-20 gallons per fish) to do well.

fancy-goldfish-tank copy

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.



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.

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.


Wrapping it All 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? πŸ˜‰

You can take a look at it here:

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  1. telly September 6, 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    good information. I wish i could read it two week ago when my beatiful lion head goldfish die for not reason. Fine with the temperature. I will keep in mind for next winter season.

    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish September 6, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks telly πŸ™‚ Sorry to hear about your lionhead πŸ™

  2. jane dugdale September 8, 2016 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I have just got a fantail and an oranda after losing my last oranda. He got stressed I think.

    These two seem very happy. I only feed them every other day.

    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish September 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Fantails and Orandas are a good combo πŸ™‚ I bet they’ll become fast friends!

  3. Goldie September 10, 2016 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Hello. I have several questions related to my delightful Fantails. I am so glad I have found your site!

    I have two* Fantails; one is about 1 1/2 years old, the other is @ 8 months old. I keep them both in my kitchen area, inside low to moderate lighting, in a 20 gallon size tank. I am very new to having goldfish, and was finally was able to keep my oldest Fantail, Goldie, alive after much trial and error on my part, i.e., getting the water bacteria right, learning not to over-feed, etc. I am very attached to them, and have honestly put lots of time and energy into keeping them alive and healthy.

    My first question is: 1). Can noises from a big storm traumatize a fantail? We recently had a hurricane where I live (no, I am not kidding), and I lost all power for @ 40 hours. However, after only just 6 hours of losing power, and the filter and bubble/air making machine being off, I noticed an immediate difference in my oldest one, Goldie, much to my surprise. He was not moving around much at all, and was hanging out at the bottom corner of the tank, which I know is not normal, or a good sign. I assumed he was/had been perhaps traumatized by the sounds of the wind(s), and tree branches hitting my homes roof, especially since they both seemed okay before the storm..(?).

    I immediately did a 1/3 of a tank water change, and stopped feeding both of them for over 3 days. On the 4th day, my goldfish seemed much better, thank goodness, and was swimming around like he normally does. My other younger goldfish had also seemed very subdued and ‘stunned’ after the storm passed. I fed Goldie and the younger Fantail, one mushed up (cooked) green pea and they devoured it. Now I’m happy to report that both of them are doing great, acting normal, and seem happy and content. πŸ™‚

    I have read that all Goldfish are very sensitive to noises (just like bunnies) even though there was really nothing I could do to prevent them from going the storm other than perhaps trying to cover their tank with a blanket. This hurricane was a rare event, no doubt, but another one could always happen again in the near future.

    They also went w/o their filter or any air bubbles being on for almost 3 days due to the power outage and I had no A/C, and it was getting pretty hot and humid inside my home. I was really worried I was going to lose them.

    (2). How long can Fantails go without* their filter running and having air bubbles? Should I have transported them to a makeshift bucket and tried to have chilled the water with some ice? Would that have helped any? Any suggestions for keeping Goldfish alive during a power outage (other than using a generator, which is costly)?

    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish September 10, 2016 at 4:33 am - Reply

      With the power out like that, not having the filter running makes their ecosystem not as clean. I would be more likely to think it was that, though they do have ears and loud sounds can bother them. Really you don’t want the power out more than 24 hours. But, if worst comes to worst, water changes can help.

  4. fantailfan April 13, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    We have gone through many fantails, and it’s sad when they die.

    Rating: 3
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 15, 2018 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Yes, I absolutely agree. πŸ™ Maybe this article can help make you feel better.

  5. J July 1, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    I REALLY appreciate this article, and all of the facts provided. I’m still relatively new to the aquarium hobby and I’m completely new to goldfish. I have a 29 gallon tank, so I know size won’t be a problem. Temperature’s good too. I’ll do some extra research into which foods they should eat. Still, I just have a few questions.

    1. What pH do Goldfish really thrive in?
    2. How about water hardness? What numbers should my GH and KH be?
    3. I know goldfish find many aquarium plants tasty, especially when they’re hungry and haven’t been fed. Are there any plants that they dislike? I really want a planted tank. πŸ™‚
    4. What would you recommend in terms of decor? I know that fantails (and any other variety with long fins) can get injured on sharp objects like pieces of driftwood or other decorations. Would large smooth river rocks suffice? Anything else that could decorate their home without posing any risk?
    5. I know most people tend to go for bare-bottom tanks so the goldfish don’t choke on substrate when they sift through it, but I’ve also heard that a thin layer of sand is acceptable as well. Is it alright for me to use a layer, say an inch or two, of a very fine black sand in their tank? (No gravel of course, I don’t want my pet to choke.)

    That’s it. I’d really appreciate some feedback. Thanks again for the article! Love your website. <3

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish July 1, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      1. pH is best around 7.4. 2. Goldfish prefer the higher end of GH and KH 3. Your best bet is Anubias 4. River rocks are fine 5. Sand is fine but 2″ is too much. Glad you like the website!

  6. Wolfie July 29, 2018 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I’m glad I read this, I have 2 fantails, 2 comets and a carp. But I have a question. Do fish ever feel lonely??????

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish July 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Some people think they do. It kind of depends on the goldfish. If they have other fish in the tank then they surely don’t πŸ™‚

  7. Daniel August 3, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Just read the article and it is fantastic! As an experienced Goldfish keeper I approve this as good to follow, but one thing I would recommend 20Gallon Minimum if you can but 10 Gallons is fine.
    One question, can you send me the link to the fantail fan club I can’t seem to find it.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 5, 2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      More space is always better πŸ™‚ I was only using it as a phrase of speech for people who are goldfish lovers.

  8. Rachel March 11, 2019 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Is a 5gallon tank ok for 3 fan tails? I have a fish that is floating on its belly. Can’t seem to stay swimming like it needs too. Isn’t acting right. Does this mean it’s going to die ?

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 13, 2019 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      You may need to test your water. It can be tricky to keep that many fish in that small a space with good water. Personally would go with a larger tank.

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