Shubunkin in the pond: attitude, care and propagation

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Shubunkin in the pond: attitude, care and propagation: pond

The Shubunkin are becoming more and more popular, rightly so! Because the colorful fish bribe on the one hand by their eye-catching appearance and on the other hand, they require no special care. When kept in a manner suitable to the species, the fish not only live up to 20 years, but also constantly provide for offspring. Read here which conditions for the attitude must be fulfilled and how you best care the colorful ornamental fish!


The shubunkin is a breeding form of the common goldfish, which visually resembles the koi. However, the Shubunkin are slightly smaller and are also considered more modest than the Kois. In appearance, the popular ornamental fish from Japan is not inferior to his conspecific and also impresses with its colorful pattern.
  • Colors: white, yellow, orange, red, blue, black
  • Pattern: Speckled colors, also on the fins
  • Scales: metallic, transparent
  • Body shape: Similar to the common goldfish
  • Size: 10-30 cm, caudal fin can make up to 50% of the body length
  • Age: 15-20 years
  • Purchase price: Around 30 euros for a 20-25 cm big fish
Note: The individual optical properties of shubunkin are only partially inherited during breeding. It is not uncommon that goldfish are among the offspring.

The ideal pond

Although the Shubunkin are considered relatively undemanding fish, the optimal pond is still a prerequisite for the species-appropriate attitude of these ornamental fish dar. Because both the pond size and the optimal properties of the water promote the well-being of the fish and ensure that they live long and even multiply!


Shubunkin - Goldfish

Shubunkin are considered to be extremely active and therefore require a lot of space. But not only the urge to move is crucial for the optimal pond size: The minimum depth depends on the one hand on the summer, because the fish need in the warm season, cool water. On the other hand, the pond must be sufficiently deep so that the fish can hibernate. Similarly, the pond should have shallow places of about 15 centimeters, so that the Shubunkin can reproduce easily.
  • Minimum depth: 70 cm
  • optimal depth: 1-1.5 m
  • Capacity: 1 m³ of water (1000 liters) per fish


Ideally, the pond is located in a partially shaded to shady spot, so that the water is not too hot in summer. Because the Shubunkin can endure a water temperature of up to 30 degrees for a short time, but this is by no means optimal. It is therefore advisable to additionally provide shade by placing aquatic plants, such as water lilies, in the pond.
  • Temperature: max. 25 degrees
  • pH value: 6.5-8.3
  • Total hardness: max. 10-12 dH
  • Nitrite: 0 mg / l
  • Ammonia: 0 mg / l
  • Nitrate: 0-25 mg / l

Technical Equipment

In order to keep the water quality at a high level, the use of technical aids is worthwhile. An air pump enriches the water with oxygen and at the same time ensures that digester gases can escape quickly. This is especially important in the winter months, especially as a hole in the ice cover is kept free through the hose of the pump. Although a pond is a self-contained ecosystem, it pays to add a pond filter. Because a pond filter supports the economic equilibrium as follows:
  • cleans the water
  • picks up filth like fish droppings and algae
  • Purified water is pumped back into the pond
  • converts ammonia to nitrite
  • Nitrite and oxygen become nitrate
  • Nitrate is valuable for the aquatic plants
Tip: If too many algae form in the pond, it pays to purchase a UV clarifier. Because the algae remove the shubunkin valuable oxygen and thus represent a life-threatening threat to the fish.

Attitude of Shubunkin

Shubunkin - Goldfish

The shubunkin is a swarm fish and therefore should not be kept single under any circumstances. The species-appropriate attitude provides that the ornamental fish is held in a swarm of at least five pieces. It is even better to provide Shubunkin with more conspecifics. However, the pond size must be taken into account, because the more fish there are, the larger the pond should be. The Shubunkin not only feel at ease with their peers, but also harmonize well with the following fish:
  • goldfish
  • Koi
  • Goldorfe


When a pond is optimally equipped, it is usually difficult to feed it by hand. Because the Shubunkin usually provide themselves and feed on, inter alia, aquatic plants and small animals such as water fleas and mosquito larvae. Of course, to ensure that the fish are well cared for, they can still be fed.For the amount of food there is a general rule of thumb: It is not fed more than the fish consume in about 5 to 10 minutes. If food remains after this time, the amount of food should be reduced accordingly. Because the leftover feed remains in the pond and contaminates it. When feeding, the following should also be considered:
  • Only feed high-quality, easily digestible feed
  • ideal are feed mixtures for Shubunkin
  • However, it is also suitable flaked or granulated food
  • the colder it gets, the less you feed
  • Feeding spring to fall once a day
  • 1 diet a week is perfectly okay
  • do not feed in winter
  • because the fish fall into winter stare


Fishes are known to be in winter stare during the cold season and require sufficient space and oxygen for this. If the pond is deep enough, hibernation usually works without any problems. As a rule, the pond does not freeze completely, but only the upper water layer. However, there should always be a hole in the ice cover so that enough oxygen can flow into the pond. In addition, the fish produce fermentation gases in winter, which can escape through the hole. For a trouble-free hibernation, the following tips have been proven:
  • Pond surface partially open
  • Egg holder prevents freezing
  • Thaw ice cover with boiling water
  • never open a frozen pond!
  • Fish damage could be damaged
  • provide additional oxygen
  • with reeds or ventilated stones
Note: It is not advisable to use a circulation pump in winter, as this will transport the cold water from the surface into the depth. However, the water temperature should not drop below 4 degrees there, otherwise the Shubunkin is too cold. Too low temperatures are life-threatening and should be avoided!


Shubunkin - goldfish

The Shubunkin are considered extremely fertile, especially if the optimal pond conditions are present and they are fed additionally. Shubunkin's mating season is usually April and May, but the fish can only be raised after a certain age. The males are generally from the second year of sexual maturity, whereas the females are only from the third year of breeding. In the males, the pairing readiness can also be visually recognized, because they get white dots on the gills and on the front fin. The pairing of Shubunkin usually takes place as follows:
  • Males "force" the females to lay their eggs
  • they hunt and / or stub
  • Males fertilize deposited eggs
  • Spawns usually stick near the water surface
  • often on pond liner or stones
Note: The spawning looks like a caterpillar and is usually whitish or silvery shiny.


After about a week hatch from the eggs, the first juvenile fish. The offspring are about one to two millimeters tall and dark (almost black) colored. Their actual color develops in most cases after a year, but there are also some exceptions. Because now and again, the fish discolor much earlier, so they have their typical colorful pattern after just a few days. Since the Shubunkin like to act cannibalisch and often eat their own eggs and young animals, the newly hatched fish should be protected:
  • Fish hatched young fish
  • put in an aquarium
  • leave there until they are about 4 cm tall
  • then put back in the pond
Tip: If no aquarium is available, the juvenile fish can also be protected in the pond with a few simple steps. Because a well-planted shallow water zone offers the young fish in the pond sufficient protection.

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