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Home > Goldfish > Imperial Goldfish – Pictures, Info, Care Guide & Lifespan

Imperial Goldfish – Pictures, Info, Care Guide & Lifespan

carassius auratu

The Imperial Goldfish is an experimental goldfish that isn’t officially recognized as a breed just yet. However, many breeders, particularly in the US and UK, are working to develop a consistent Imperial Goldfish strain.

Since the strain is still developing, there’s a variety of appearances and characteristics of the Imperial Goldfish. Here’s what’s known so far about this fish.


Quick Facts About Imperial Goldfish

Species Name: Carassius auratus
Family: Cyprinidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 68ºF – 74ºF
Temperament: Docile, calm
Color Form: Red, orange, black, yellow, white
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Size: 5 – 9 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Gravel or pebble substrate, filter, plants, hiding spaces
Compatibility: Community fish

Imperial Goldfish Overview

The Imperial Goldish is a cross between two unique species of goldfish, the Bristol Shubunkin and the Single-Tailed Red Metallic Veiltail Goldfish.

The Bristol Shubunkin was developed in the Bristol Area and is known for having a B-shaped tail. The Veiltail Goldfish is also an impressive fish that has a long, sweeping tail.

The Imperial Goldfish is currently being developed by the Goldfish Society of Great Britain (GSGB)1. It appears that much of the breeding process is to cultivate some key physical features of both the Bristol Shubunkin and Veiltail Goldfish to create a signature look that will be unique to the Imperial Goldfish. Such features include scales with metallic centers and matte edges.

It’s difficult to say that the Imperial Goldfish has any definite traits and behaviors because this strain is still being developed to eventually become a recognized breed. However, we can expect the appearance and temperament to share a mix of the Bristol Shubunkin and Veiltail Goldfish.

We may not see the Imperial Goldfish being actively sold any time soon. Both the Bristol Shubunkin and Veiltail Goldfish are rare goldfish breeds. So, there’s a great possibility that the Imperial Goldfish will also remain a rare breed even if it develops into a distinct breed.

How Much Do Imperial Goldfish Cost?

As of now, the Imperial Goldfish isn’t formally for sale, so it’s difficult to determine its price point. You may find some people selling early varieties of the breed. However, estimates can be made based on the prices for Bristol Shubunkins and Veiltail Goldfish.

The Bristol Shubunkin can cost anywhere between $60-$70 while the Veiltail Goldfish costs about $10-$20. So, the Imperial Goldfish can fall somewhere in between or end up being more expensive than the Bristol Shubunkin, depending on how difficult it is to breed and rear them.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

We can expect the Imperial Goldfish to adopt some of the behaviors and temperaments of its Bristol Shubunkin and Veiltail Goldfish parents.

The Bristol Shubunkin is quite hardy and doesn’t need too much extensive care and attention. It’s also quite tame and gets along well with other goldfish.

The Veiltail Goldfish is also a calm fish, but it’s not as hardy as the Bristol Shubunkin. Its delicate fins make it a weak swimmer, and they also can be susceptible to getting infected.

Carassius auratu
Image By: boban_nz, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

The desired appearance of the Imperial Goldfish is a happy medium between the Bristol Shubunkin and a Single-Tailed Red Metallic Veiltail Goldfish. The body of the fish should be deeper and shorter than other single-tailed goldfish varieties while the tailfin should be similar to the shape of the Bristol Shubunkin’s tail.

The desired color of the fish is to be red once the fish fully matures, and it should have a matte band of scales on the center of the body. Some young-adult Imperial Goldfish may show some black on the tail that eventually fades as the fish ages.


How to Take Care of Imperial Goldfish

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Like most goldfish, the Imperial Goldfish is quite hardy once it’s completely acclimated and established in a tank or pond. As foragers and grazers, these fish will enjoy plenty of spaces where they can hide, forage for food, and nibble on plants.

Tank Size

An Imperial Goldfish’s tank should be a minimum of 20 gallons, but a more ideal size would be 30 gallons. Make sure to increase the tank by at least 10 gallons if you plan on having two Imperial Goldfish.

goldfish in a fish tank
Image By: Tinh Nguyen, Unsplash

Water Quality & Conditions

Goldfish can be pretty flexible with pH levels. However, when they’re adjusting to a new tank, the pH level shouldn’t fall outside of the 6.5 to 7.5 range. The water temperature should be between 68ºF-74ºF.


Goldfish like to forage, so it’s important to have a substrate that won’t cause them to choke. Sand is a good option, and gravel also works well. However, just make sure that the gravel pieces are large enough so that they don’t get stuck in your goldfish’s mouth.


Goldfish can nibble on aquatic plants and can even end up uprooting them. So, while they enjoy having plants in their aquarium, you might not like it because there’s a good chance you’ll frequently replace them.

If an Imperial Goldfish keeps nibbling on natural plants, you can switch them out with fake plants instead.


Goldfish just need the same amount of lighting as they would receive in the wild. 6 hours of moderate light is sufficient enough for this fish. Always make sure that they also receive a good amount of darkness. Prolonged exposure to light can end up causing stress.


Goldfish tend to eat a lot and can end up producing a lot of waste. So, make sure you have a strong and durable filter. There’s also a good chance that you’ll have to clean the tank pretty frequently and regularly depending on your fish and the filtration system.

Understanding the intricacies of water filtration can be tricky, so if you're a new or even experienced goldfish owner who wants a bit more detailed information on it, we recommend that you check out Amazon for the best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish. 

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It covers all you need to know about creating the most ideal tank setup, goldfish care, and more!


Are Imperial Goldfish Good Tank Mates?

Carassius auratus Goldfish
Image By: gunungkawi, Shutterstock

Imperial Goldfish can live in communities, especially if it’s with other goldfish species. Just make sure that the tank space is large enough because they may become aggressive due to competition.

Goldfish aren’t predatory fish, so they can do well with most fish.Some other species of fish that will get along with Imperial Goldfish are the following:

  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Hillstream Loach
  • Hoplo Catfish
  • Rosy Barb

Since Imperial Goldfish are docile, they won’t do well with aggressive, predatory fish.

Make sure to avoid pairing Imperial Goldfish with these fish:
  • After Knife
  • Bucktooth Tetra
  • Dwarf Pea Puffer
  • Flowerhorn Cichlid
  • Wolf Cichlid


What to Feed Your Imperial Goldfish

Imperial Goldfish have low-maintenance dietary needs. They’re omnivores, so they can eat almost anything. You can feed them pellets or flakes that are specially formulated for goldfish.

These fish can also enjoy other sources of protein, such as bloodworms, earthworms, and brine shrimp.

Keeping Your Imperial Goldfish Healthy

It doesn’t take too much extra care to keep an Imperial Goldfish happy and healthy. These fish do well adapting to cold water temperatures and varying pH levels.

The most important things to keep in mind when taking care of an Imperial Goldfish is to maintain a clean tank and prevent overfeeding. While Imperial Goldfish are quite hardy and resistant to diseases, they can still get very sick when constantly living in unclean tank conditions.

Imperial Goldfish also won’t know when to stop eating, so it’s imperative for owners to monitor their food intake because they can eat themselves to death.



Since the Imperial Goldfish is still in the experimental phase, it’s difficult to say if this fish will be easy to breed. This information will depend on how easily the desired traits can be developed and passed on to the next generation of fish.

Also, most goldfish species are generally difficult to breed when in captivity. It can take beginner breeders a few tries before they find the optimal water temperature change to encourage goldfish to enter into mating season.

Also, goldfish need a lot of space because they can end up eating their own eggs. So, if you aren’t carefully watching the eggs, an adult goldfish may end up gobbling them up.


Are Imperial Goldfish Suitable For Your Aquarium?

It’s difficult to give a concrete answer to what type of aquarium an Imperial Goldfish will thrive in because it’s an experimental fish. However, we can anticipate that it’ll behave similarly to its Bristol Shubunkin and Veiltail Goldfish parents.

So, make sure to have a freshwater tank that can hold at least 20 gallons of water and fill it with substrate suitable for foragers. You can also expect to clean up your take more frequently than you would with other fish because of how much a goldfish can eat and excrete waste.

However, this fish has a very docile personality and a striking appearance. So, they may be worth the extra maintenance because they’ll surely be a stunning addition to your aquarium.

Other Goldfish Reads:

Featured Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

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