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The bubble eye is comparatively rare in UK. It is a dorsal-less fish, and good
specimens will have a clean back and eye bubbles well matched for colour and
size. The bubbles are fragile and the fish should be kept separately from boisterous
types and away from sharp tank decor, although the bubbles will regrow if punctured.
Given proper accommodation, the bubbles do not disadvantage the fish and they
become very tame.
In the Far East, bubble eyes with small bubbles and celestial type eyes are
known as frogheads or toadheads. There is also a type with double bubbles, one just under the eye on each side (like the traditional, single bubbles) and one just below and to the rear of the mouth on each side.
The bubble eye standard is as follows:
- Depth of body to be greater than 1/2 of body length
- Eyes to have a sac under and around the sides of each eye
- Dorsal fin to be absent
- All other fins to be paired
- Caudal fin to be divided and forked
- Extremities of fins to have a rounded appearance
- Minimum length of body to be 5.5 cm (2¼ inches)
The fish should be bright, alert and well balanced. The body should be short
not elongated, with smooth contours and showing no sign of a dorsal fin. The
caudal fin should be well divided. The eye sacs should be well developed and
The colour may be metallic (self-coloured or variegated in a pleasing pattern
and similar on each side) or calico. Metallic colours should appear as burnished
metal, extending into the fins. Calico fish should have a blue background with
patches of violet, red, orange, yellow and brown, spotted with black.
Ideal profiles are illustrated below:
Notice that all the fish illustrated on these two pages have nicely balanced
eye sacs, matching each other in size and shape. It is fairly common to see
fish with one eye sac larger than the other; this does not affect the fish at
all, but makes it appear unbalanced.
Chinese bubble eyes
Red, black and calico fish. Note the range of tail types, from the thin-lobed, deeply forked (typical Far Eastern) in the red fish on the left edge of the picture, to the shallow-forked, full tail in the red fish in roughly the equivalent position on the right. Photographed in Hong Kong, December 2003.
Metallic bubble eyes
On the left is a mature adult, self-coloured yellow metallic fish, close to the standard, but with rather long tail lobes, although it is nicely self-coloured, lemon yellow being unusual in this type. It was shown at BAS 1999.
On the right is a young adult, variegated red-orange/silver-white fish with the long finnage and slender body of a Far Eastern lineage; its eye bubbles could ideally be slightly larger but they are well matched in size. It was shown at BAS 2000.
Red metallic bubble eye shown at BAS 2008, more conformant to the standard in that it has shorter finnage.
Red bubble eye shown at BAS 2003, with long tail lobes and a somewhat slender body.
Red bubble eye shown at BAS 2005, with shorter tail lobes and a deeper body.
Red bubble eye shown at GSGB 2005, with large, well balanced eye bubbles.
© Bristol Aquarists' Society