Although many types of goldfish, even shubunkin, are considered beginner pets, they can live for up to 30 years in captivity when given proper care. Many components determine the life span of a shubunkin, including tank size, water quality, diet and even tank mates.
Sometimes referred to as calico goldfish, shubunkins often are deeply patterned with black freckle spots over orange and white bodies. Three varieties exist: Japanese, Bristol and London. Differences between the types exist mostly in fin shape. Shubunkins are among the hardier varieties of goldfish and do well in ponds or large aquariums with big, open areas for free-swimming.
The maximum life expectancy of shubunkins and many other goldfish is approximately 30 years, although this is not the norm. Expect 10 years in an aquarium and 25 years in a pond. During this time, the 3- to 5-inch-long shubunkin you purchased can grow to 12 inches.
In the wild, goldfish breed during the summer; breeding occurs year-round in captivity under the right conditions. Shubunkins are easy breeders, so take care to separate males and females. Most aquarists and breeders simply raise the temperature to between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate the breeding season. Keeping the water cooler may prevent breeding. A female can lay thousands of eggs over a period of a week and a half; the male fertilizes them afterward. The eggs hatch in less than a week. They reach sexual maturity around 2 years old, but water temperature and other aspects of water quality can affect this.
A single shubunkin needs a tank of at least 20 gallons' capacity, as he can grow quite large. Add 10 gallons for each additional shubunkin. Water temperature can be anywhere between 40 and 80 degrees, although massive fluctuations are dangerous. High nitrate levels can quickly affect the health of your shubunkin and lead to premature death. Partial water changes weekly or every other week will help keep shubunkins healthy and provide for a cleaner, nicer-looking tank. Feed a variety diet of quality flakes or pellets supplemented by veggies, and live or freeze-dried worms, shrimp or other invertebrates. Signs of illness may include dulling of the color or reduced activity.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.