The Shubunkin Shuffle


Ah, the thing about upgrading to a larger, spanking brand new sparkling aquarium is … elbow room. Okay, pectoral fin room.

Scroll down to Aquariverse’ second post and you will note that our 46-gallon fresh-water community tank is populated by two rescue-goldfish (purchased six years ago for 49 cents each from a dirty, over-crowded feeder-fish tank) a trio of phantom tetras and four cory cats.

Well… only meaning to pick up an algae scrub pad, I swear, I just had to meander past my local pet store’s wall-of-tanks and … who should catch my eye but a sprightly baby shubunkin.


I know I know, when it comes to living beings (and fashionably skinny tights) impulse buys are a no-no. But I’ve actually had my eye out for just the right addition to our newly roomy set-up and I’ve always been a sucker for a tortoiseshell.

Bearing in mind our next up-grade will be a back-garden goldfish pond…

…and factoring in the years it will take our inch long shubunkin to attain his or her potential 12-inch length, I believe our tank’s eco-system can healthfully support another fish.

Shubunkin are as hardy as they are pretty … which is a bit of a refreshing change in the aquarium world. Even so, as the above link admirably fills in the species specifics, I’d like to employ the rest of this post toward sharing my “introducing a fish” tips for the benefit of those new to aquarium keeping.



Admittedly today’s was an unexpected buy. I normally bring a small padded cooler to transport new plants or fish from store to home – the goal being to keep the temperature of the bagged water as stable as possible to stave off shock. I did have my padded gym bag in the car so used that instead.

Once home, I turned off my aquarium’s light and gently placed the still sealed bag into the water – hooking it in place with the tank’s lid. Our resident goldfish, Flash and George, immediately started nosing against it, and as quickly seemed to lose interest.  Meanwhile, the newcomer was given a chance to acclimate to yet another temperature change.


Twenty minutes later I lifted the bag back out of the tank and very gently poured the contents, water and shubunkin, into a small transfer bowl. I waited a moment and added about two cups of water from the 46-gallon tank.

I believe this gives a new fish a chance to ‘taste’ what’s coming next. The idea is to mitigate shocks to the system. Ten minutes later, I carefully netted the little fellow and ever so gently lowered him into his new home. He hung out in the net for a few moments, drifted away from it then suddenly darted toward the darkest corner of the tank… seeking cover amongst the foliage – plastic and real. A minute or two later and he was exploring the lower regions of the tank, then gradually venturing into what hopefully seems like an expansive habitat.

I’ll keep the light off for several hours more,  just to keep the tank’s ambience in a soothing state. I’ll also added a dose of “Stress Coat” –


which claims to “reduce stress” through the “healing and regeneration of damaged fish tissue.” Not that I feel I’ve injured the little guy … I just figure any boost to the immune system — considering the drastic change in scenery but also changes in temperature, water chemistry and community – can only help him successfully adapt.  I’ve added the “stress coat” for the benefit of the established community as well, should the introduction of the new fish introduce parasites or diseases, or otherwise upset the established order.

Those new to fish-keeping should note that’s why I didn’t just open the shubunkin’s transport bag while it was in my tank. Who knows what pathogens or parasites will sluice in with the new fish. And yes, I know, experienced aquarists are possibly shaking their heads and quite rightly saying I should have let the newbie ply the waters of a quarantine tank for a week or two … but not everyone has a quarantine tank and I’ve found my method quite a good alternative.

That said, should you have a tip or query to share or otherwise interesting observation, do feel free to comment in the box provided below. As for our little shubunkin… I’ve already named him Dunkin.


From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues our honors. — Proverb

*(not my actual fish) … ; )


4 thoughts on “The Shubunkin Shuffle

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