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Amongst the twintails, the fantail is relatively easy to breed. The finnage
is important, and the tail must have the right kind of forking. Some years ago,
there were two standards: one for a longer, thinner tail and one for a shorter,
stumpier tail; these are now combined into the present, intermediate standard.
The fantail standard is as follows:
- Depth of body to be greater than 3/5ths of body length
- Dorsal fin to be single, all other fins to be paired
- Caudal fin to be divided and forked and held above the horizontal
- Extremities of fins to be slightly rounded
- Minimum length of body to be 5.5 cm (2¼ inches)
The fish should be bright and alert. The body should be short (not elongated)
with a smooth outline. The caudal fin should be held high without drooping,
should be well divided and should look fan-shaped when viewed from the rear.
Good quality fish will have high colour intensity extending into the fins.
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:
Juveniles at 6 months, metallic red colouration
This is a breeder's team of four metallic red fantails (plus three reflections!)
bred in Spring 2000 and presented at BAS 2000 in September.
Juveniles at 7 months, calico colouration
These fish are of exceptional quality and won Overall Best in Show at the Annual
Show in 2000. The profile conforms perfectly to the ideal standard (although
hard to discern in this view) and the calico colouration includes the full range
of desired colours in balanced proportion without too much silver. Three fish
from a breeder's team of four.
Adult fish, various colourations
Four very fine adult fantails: two self-coloured red metallics, one red/silver-white
variegated metallic (see Further Images for another view of this individual)
and one calico fish. Notice the relatively short finnage (compared with the
veiltail), with tails well forked and spread into a fan shape, held high and
Adult red metallic, top view
These fish were presented at BAS 2002 and 2003 (photo taken in 2003), where
they won Best in Section in both years and Best in Show 2002. Vertical views
are uncommon in the literature, but this was how the twintail goldfish were
originally bred to be seen, before the days of glass tanks.
Fairly good quality fantails, unlike the rest of the twintail goldfish types,
can be bought from many shops and at a reasonable price, so they - and the common
goldfish - are a sensible starting fish for the novice breeder; that said, it
is very possible to buy poor quality fish from many shops, so it helps to know
what a good fantail should look like! A few specialist shops sell high quality
fantails, although often with finnage too long for the ideal, show-standard
One successful breeder bought 8 fantails from a shop six years ago: the fish
had good colour, body shape and finnage but not-so-good tails. He has stuck
with his original fish rather than make any outcrosses and now has a breeding
stock of 20 fish (10 males, 10 females). As a general rule, pairing is mother-to-son,
but always the best fish are selected for breeding. In six years no improvement
in the strain has been noticed, but nor has there been any deterioration, and
they were quality fish to start with.
The fish start chasing in March and are mostly left to spawn naturally, with
perhaps 10% hand-spawned for specific pairings. The adults are fed on pellets,
daphnia and frozen bloodworm; the fry are fed on brine shrimp for the first
2-3 weeks and then on porridge, daphnia and pellets.
The first cull is carried out when the fry are 4 weeks old, selecting for twin
tails; a second cull is made at 8 weeks selecting for body shape and tail shape;
then a third cull at 12 weeks selecting again for body and tails; a final cull
at 16-20 weeks selects for colour. Out of 3,000 fry bred each year 20 or so
are kept, giving a return of 150:1 which is similar to the success ratio for
lionheads and Bristol shubunkins.
The young are raised in tanks in the fish house, then brought on in ponds where
they overwinter, being very hardy. Water changes in the fish house are typically
100% weekly on a continuous flow system. Trouble from pests and diseases is
usually minimal, owing to the high degree of isolation from other fish or other
bodies of water.
Fantails live for about 10 years and, as described above, are hardy fish, happily
living outdoors in ponds.
© Bristol Aquarists' Society