How to Keep Fantail Goldfish Happy and Healthy

Follow these tips to create a healthy environment for your fantail goldfish.

Fantail goldfish have two tail fins and are shorter from head to tail than a common goldfish. These fish are active, hearty eaters and beautiful to watch. They come in a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, an orange red, coffee orange and calico (a mixture of colors). The name ‘fantail’ has been given to the fish due to the fanned appearance of their double tail. These two tail fins are sometimes partly joined together, although this is a sign of a mixed breed.

An example of a young fantail goldfish

A healthy fantail goldfish races to meet you when you approach the tank. Often, they will beg for food in the area of the aquarium where they are generally fed. A happy, healthy fantail holds its fins straight out from its body, displaying the beautiful appendages for you to see, and will swim actively around the tank. When swimming, it should push the water out of its way with a strong wiggle.

A healthy fantail goldfish with fins held straight out from its body..

An example of a healthy fantail goldfish swimming.

Signs of a Sick or Distressed Fantail

When a fantail is sick or under stress, it will hold its fins close to its body, lie on the gravel at the bottom of the aquarium or swim without vigor. At this point, the fish owner will need to look for symptoms of illness or parasitic infection such as Ich, fin rot or internal parasites and medicate accordingly.

The orange fantail in the centre left of this picture is ill or stressed. Note how it keeps its fins close to its body.

Fantail goldfish, like all goldfish, are prone to constipation. The first signs of constipation are a bloated stomach and ‘nose standing’ – hovering near the bottom of the tank, nose down with the tail fin floating upwards. If your fish keeps bobbing to the surface of the water, even when it tries to swim to the aquarium floor, it is probably severely constipated. See below for ways to cure constipation in goldfish.

This fantail goldfish is nose standing due to constipation.

Creating a Healthy Environment for Fantail Goldfish


Fantail goldfish are cold water fish, yet they are able to withstand a wide range of temperatures. They are often kept in tropical fish tanks, although a prolonged period of living in warm water may shorten the lifespan of goldfish. It is generally acceptable to keep goldfish at a water temperature between 57°F (14°C) and 71°F (22°C), though they are able to survive much lower and much higher temperatures for a short period of time.

If you are keeping your fantails outdoors, note that the fish should be housed inside during severely cold seasons. The fish will become inactive and will eat less in colder temperatures.

The ideal temperature for the fantail goldfish is around 62°F (17°C).

This video shows fantail goldfish in a pond during summer when the fish are actively hunting for food. The water feature helps to aerate and purify the water and the aquatic plants provide cover for the fish.


Several fantail goldfish can be housed in a small tank when they are juveniles. However, as they get larger the fish will need more room. 10 gallons (37 litres) per fish will provide the space that fantail goldfish need to grow into large, attractive pets. Goldfish bowls are too small to house an adult fantail, and often lack the filtration and oxygenation that this breed of fish need.

The more space available to the fish, the less maintenance you will need to perform on fish tanks.

This goldfish is far too large to be living in such a small fishbowl. The owner of this fish will need to perform 100% water changes daily in order to remove waste from the water and provide sufficient oxygen for the fish.

Water Quality

Goldfish are high waste producers and this means that a goldfish tank will need regular water changes and cleaning. Smaller tanks and fish bowls require more attention than large tanks. Maintaining a high water quality is important in order to have a healthy goldfish that can live for many years and reach its mature size. Overfeeding and fish waste are large contributors to a low fish tank water quality and goldfish diseases.

If tap water is used for fish tanks, allow the water that will be placed in the tank to stand overnight before pouring it into the tank. This will let chemicals escape from the water instead of poisoning the fish. Do not allow children to put their hands into the tank as any residue that is on their skin will be transferred into the water and can potentially harm the fish. Always wash your hands thoroughly before putting them into the fish tank.

These children are trying to catch the goldfish in the pot pond and are throwing coins into the water; both of these actions can be potentially damaging to the fish.


Goldfish tanks are often accompanied by algae growth on the glass of the tank. The algae provide a valuable food source for the omnivorous goldfish – a buffet of salad that the fish can munch on whenever it wants. The algae grow as a result of excess food and fish waste. A small amount of algae can be good for a goldfish tank, but too much can result in oxygen loss from the water. Combat algae by placing aquatic snails and live plants in the tank and performing regular water changes. Avoid placing a Plecostomus, an attractive catfish that is often called a ‘sucker fish’, in a goldfish tank. Some plecostomus catfish enjoy sucking on the slime coat of goldfish while the goldfish sleeps. The loss of the slime coat can cause the fish to become ill and stressed.

This video shows a fantail goldfish snacking on hair algae.

Alternatively, use a UV light in the filter to prevent algae from growing. There are rumors that green algae-filled water can be good for goldfish, even making them grow faster and larger. However, if the water is too green, it may adversely affect the fish. Regular water changes will keep green water clear to a level that you feel is healthy.

This video shows the difference between two goldfish ponds; one that doesn’t have a UV light attached to the filter and has turned green and one that has a UV light in the filter and is clear.


Goldfish are hungry little guys and will sometimes tuck into the aquatic plants that you place in your tank. However, the plants help to aerate the water and provide cover for the goldfish while making the tank attractive. Ask for assistance when buying plants for goldfish and remember to trim both the leaves and the roots of plants once a year.

Plants provide cover for fish that are shy or are still becoming accustomed to their new home.

Filtration and Light

Goldfish need a fair amount of oxygen in the water, and a filter can provide this. Filters also remove debris from the tank, keeping the environment clean and healthy. Running water purifies itself, although water purifiers can also be added to the tank.

Goldfish prefer slow moving currents. If the filter is too strong, the fantail goldfish will get washed around the tank, making the fish stressed and weak. Try to create areas in the tank where the water flow is gentle. The fish will use these areas to sleep at night. Clean filters regularly to keep the water clear.

Fish enjoy daylight, but direct sunlight for most of the day will cause algae to grow and the fish will hide behind plants to avoid the light. Keep the fish tank a few feet away from windows to allow natural light to reach the tank without direct sunlight shining into the water. Fish that live in darkness lose much of their color. Artificial light can replace natural light, but be sure to give the tank at least 8 hours of darkness to allow the fish to sleep.

This fantail goldfish receives enough light during the day to keep its color vibrant.


Goldfish are omnivorous, which means that they eat vegetable matter and meaty foods such as insects, shrimps and bloodworms. To help fantail goldfish avoid constipation or to cure constipation, feed the fish a variety of foods. Cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, squash and shelled peas can keep your fish’s digestive system healthy, along with flaked and live food. Make sure that the broccoli and peas are par-cooked, and that any vegetables placed in the tank are small enough for the fish to consume.

In this video the calico fantail has a swim-bladder infection caused by constipation. The fish owner is feeding the fish shelled peas to solve the constipation problem.

Mixing Goldfish Breeds

Fantail goldfish are slow swimmers and they may take some time to reach the food that is placed in the tank. Faster swimming goldfish such as common or comet goldfish will beat fantails to the food. These faster breeds may also nip at the flowing fins and tails of fantail goldfish. It is better to keep only one breed in a tank, though if the temptation to house several breeds is too great, opt for ryukins or veiltails as tank mates as these breeds are also slow swimmers and less likely to nip the fantail goldfish.

This tank contains a variety of goldfish, some are slow swimmers and others are sight-impaired. The faster goldfish have an advantage over the slower fish and will consume most of the food placed in the tank.

Happy Healthy Fantail Goldfish

With proper care, fantail goldfish can reach between 6 and 8 inches in length and make a beautiful pet to watch. These friendly, colorful fish can live for up to two decades (although some say that there are goldfish heading into their thirties), and provide plenty of entertainment for their owners.

Fantail goldfish are beautiful and fun pets to own.

More Articles on Goldfish:

What Type of Goldfish Do I Have? Part One

What Type of Goldfish Do I Have? Part Two

Beginner Aquarium Plants for Goldfish Tanks

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User Comments
  1. lindalulu

    On August 18, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Really nice article so well put together.

  2. pat

    On August 22, 2009 at 8:11 am

    nice article. what kind of fillter do you have? did you teach your fish to fech & sit? Can I put a bluegill in with a fantail?

  3. steven

    On October 24, 2009 at 3:29 am

    brilliant article i just had 2 faibtails die and this helped me under stand and had great advise so i can keep the next one alive thanks

  4. Will

    On November 17, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Im glad I found this page… Thanks for the information… Giving a visual information like the videos you provided are really helpful… Thanks so much… Peace!!!

  5. Sue

    On February 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful information! I’ve always loved these fish and have just purchased 3 and I’m hoping all goes well. I figured if Wal-Mart can keep them alive, maybe I have a shot!
    Thanks again for the info. I have placed this page in my favorites.

  6. Jasmine

    On March 31, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Hi would like to inquiry, my fantail has been producing excessive amount of waste with faeces trailing from its cloaca, is there something wrong with it? I am sure i have not been overfeeding as i feed only once a day with the goldfish flakes.

  7. yazmin

    On June 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    I just love these fish

  8. Catherine South

    On November 16, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Jasmine, I know it’s a late reply, but hopefully this info will help others. Trailing feces is usually a sign of constipation, but it can also point to other illnesses.
    Do a 30% water change and be sure to vacuum the gravel. Water quality plays a very important role in goldfish health.
    Feed the fish one or two par-cooked, shelled peas or par-cooked broccoli, about half a teaspoon’s worth. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of food, but if it’s constipation, the amount of food that you feed the fish is probably too much. To cure the constipation, fresh veg in small amounts should sort it out.
    Fish need a varied diet and most goldfish flakes don’t meet a goldfish’s needs. Try using two or three types of flakes, interspersed with fresh veg.

  9. Dani

    On June 4, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Loved this page learnt a lot of new info that i didn’t know before specially about what to feed them.

    But the other night i had a similar issue with my fantail goldfish (Sylvester) which i have come to the conclusion he was constipated but mine didn’t swim upside down mine decided to lay on the left hand bottom of the tank and just laid there until he felt better. He laid there for about 40 mins but is now looking happy again and swimming around the tank happily.

  10. sumit

    On April 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

    a very nice site…..and good info…i would like to enquire about my lionhead goldfish which i bought 2 days ago and it has not eaten anything till now and shows no intrest towards food ….is he ok??

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