Wakin Goldfish: Origins, Care Requirements, History and More

Side view of Wakin goldfish in front of aquarium rocks
Original image © Juan Carlos Palau Díaz on Flickr.

Once extremely rare outside of Japan, wakin goldfish are becoming more popular. That said, they’re still relatively uncommon and often come with a hefty price tag – more akin to that of koi carp – so they’re not the sort of goldfish you decide to keep on a whim.

However, if you have the space to dedicate to them, these beautiful goldfish are a pleasure to keep and you get boasting rights to owning one of the rarer of all goldfish types that exist.

Basic Info

Wakin have long, slender bodies without compression, similar to a comet or common goldfish.

However, rather than being single-tailed, they have split double tails. They differ from double-tailed fancy varieties, as their double tails are short, instead of long and flowing.

Colors and Variations

Traditionally, wakin have been either red, white or a combination of the two. However, in more recent years, other colors and patterns have become acceptable, and you sometimes find yellow, calico, brown and orange fish, as well.

There’s also a variation of the wakin, known as the watonai, which is essentially the same as the wakin, but with a flowing tail.

How Big can they Grow?

Kept in a sufficiently sized aquarium, wakin should reach an average of around 10 inches long. However, these fish have been known to grow as large as 18 inches, especially when kept in a large pond.

How Long do they Live?

When properly looked after, a wakin can live for up to 20 years, but somewhere around 10 to 15 years is probably more common.

History and Development

The wakin is one of the oldest types of goldfish out there and has been bred in Japan since the 1500s.

It’s likely to have been bred from the stock first brought over from China and is thought to be the goldfish that all other varieties of Japanese goldfish descended from.

Good for Beginners?

Wakin are hardy goldfish, so – in theory – they’re very simple to keep in a home aquarium.

While this is true, and they don’t need much more than a tank and a filter, what they do require is a lot of space.

We’ll go further into these requirements later, but if you’re hoping to keep a fish on the counter in a little 10-gallon tank, a wakin isn’t for you!

Wakin Goldfish Care Needs

Wakin goldfish have no special needs or requirements beyond what your average goldfish requires.

However, if you’re used to keeping fancy goldfish, it’s worth noting that wakin are larger and thus need bigger tanks.

Diet

Wakin goldfish are omnivores and thrive on a varied diet.

While it’s a good idea to feed a flake or pellet food designed for goldfish, this shouldn’t be their only source of nutrition.

Also offer fruits and veggies such as lettuce, chopped grapes, shelled peas, and chunks of strawberry; and live or frozen foods like worms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae.

If your wakin lives in a planted environment, they’ll likely graze on suitable plants, too.

Some people worry about overfeeding, and while this can be an issue – especially if you feed your goldfish so much they end up with swim bladder problems – if your wakin’s tank ends up getting dirty quickly, it’s because the aquarium’s too small or has inadequate filtration, not because you’re feeding them too much.

Tank Set-Up

Let’s investigate the proper aquarium set-up for a wakin goldfish.

Recommended Tank Size and Shape

Since wakin grow large and produce a lot of waste, they need a large tank. A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended for a single fish, with an extra 10 gallons per additional fish. However, the larger you can go, the better.

While they can be kept in large aquariums, many people choose to house large goldfish like wakin in ponds to give them extra room.

Do they Need a Filter?

Wakin produce a lot of waste, so as discussed in our article ‘do goldfish need a filter,’ decent filtration is a must! Any type of filter is fine, but ideally get one that’s designed for a larger tank than you have.

For example, if yours is a 50-gallon tank, get a filter designed for a 60-gallon tank, as it will be more powerful.

Preferred Substrate

A smooth gravel substrate that’s not small enough for your wakin to eat is ideal. The minimum size of the gravel will depend on how large your goldfish is.

Do they Need Lighting?

If your wakin’s tank is kept in the dark, you’ll need to have some aquarium lighting to mimic the day-night cycle.

Ideally, you should keep the lights on for a stretch of 8 hours and off for the rest of the time. Any longer than that and excess algae growth can occur.

However, if the tank is in a well-lit room with plenty of natural light, that should do just fine.

That said, never keep your wakin goldfish in direct sunlight, as the water in the tank can quickly heat up above comfortable levels.

Water Temperature

Wakin goldfish are cold water critters and are most comfortable in temperatures between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they can survive in much colder temperatures – even under the ice in frozen ponds – so it’s not a huge deal if the temperature goes a few degrees below in the winter.

Compatibility With Other Fish

Other goldfish are the best tank mates for wakin, as most common aquarium fish are from tropical waters and therefore need to be kept at a warmer temperature.

Avoid keeping them with fancy goldfish, however, as they’re much slower than wakin and won’t get a look in when feeding time comes.

Ideal tank mates for wakin are other wakin, the common goldfish, comet goldfish or the single tailed shubunkin goldfish.

Video: A Close Look at the Wakin Goldfish

Take a look at some wakin up close and personal.

Final Thoughts

Attractive, hardy wakin can be extremely enjoyable to keep and watch, and don’t require too extensive or skills to keep successfully.

However, they do live a long time and need a lot of room, so you should only consider keeping wakin if you’re willing to provide them with a very large tank and potentially dedicate up to 20 years to them.

Happy fish keeping!

Wendy Kathryn

Hi, I'm Wendy, the owner and creator of this website, an experienced fish keeper and avid student of the art since 2010. My aim is to help beginners avoid the many possible mistakes when getting started in this wonderful hobby.You can learn more about me here.

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