Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Introduction to the Butterfly Telescope Goldfish

"The Butterfly Tail ... often flutters its lovely tail fins like a girl in the flower of her youth taking a leisurely stroll- all innocence, vitality, and not a hint of worry or sadness.  Words simply cannot do it justice."
-Louise Chan

The butterfly telescope is most easily recognized by its large, unforked caudal fins that resemble the outstretched wings of a butterfly when viewed from above. When the fish is at rest, the tail should spread out on a horizontal plane, forming a butterfly shape. In the ideal fish, the tail tips should begin to wrap around toward the fish’s head somewhat similar to that of a tosakin. The two caudal fins should be split half-way or more, and each tail should have little to no fork in-between the lobes. The tail should be long, but not so long that it loses the overall butterfly appearance.

The dorsal fin should be held upright. The leading ray on the dorsal fin should come up straight, and the following rays should curve slightly backward. The telescopic eyes can be globe eyes, dome eyes, flat eyes, or anything in-between. The fish's body should be deep and round, and some fish have a slight hint of the ryukin-like hump starting behind the head. Traditionally, these fish are meant to be top-view fish (and many would argue the tail is best appreciated this way), but they are gaining popularity as side-view fish as well. The butterfly telescope is found in many different color types including: panda, black, white, purple, lavender, calico, red/white, red, kirin, metallic calico, and sakura. Since more traditional color types like red, red/white, and black have been established for longer, they tend to produce healthier and more robust fish. So for beginners wanting to try butterfly telescopes, it's a good idea to stick to the more traditional color types at first.

I have found these fish very rewarding to keep because they generally have very sweet and laid-back personalities. A few can be feisty, but for the most part, they are docile and can easily be trained to hand-feed.

Common Telescope Eye Types

Top-view Photos of Eye Types
A calico butterfly with globe eyes.

A red butterfly with flat eyes.

A black butterfly with dome eyes.


  1. I have a fantail goldfish named Norman and his caudal fin is more of a V shape when viewed from the side, so not as triangular as the pictures you show here, However his caudal fins are connected at the top. So my question is does that make him a butterfly fantail? or a butterfly tail goldfish? what would I call that?

  2. Hi, Can you list some sites where I can buy some good butterfly tail? or any goldfish. thanks

  3. The calico looks like it has the dome eyes too.. according to the diagram anyway.

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  5. friend is traveling wth 11/2in. fry, worried about ammonia. I suggested stop feeding. how long can they fast?

  6. I fasted mine 2 days and they were fine. Probably fine longer than that.

  7. Do their eyes delicate,easy to pop?

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