How to Distinguish a Fantail Goldfish From a Veiltail

Goldfish may be solid gold, variegated or calico in color.

Goldfish may be solid gold, variegated or calico in color.

A fantail and a veiltail goldfish are similar to each other in appearance with the same colors and overall size. Each has a distorted swim bladder that makes him look fat in the middle. Close observation of the two while they swim will help you distinguish between the two types.

Observe the width and length of the goldfish’s body. A veiltail is wider than two-thirds of his body length. A fantail has a body that is more than three-fifths wider than his length. Therefore, in relation to their length and width, a veiltail is slightly wider than a fantail.

Look at the caudal fin or tail of the goldfish. A veiltail’s caudal fin is at least three-quarters of his body length and divided in the center. The fantail goldfish has the same type of tail as a veiltail, but he holds it straight upright as he swims with the center higher than the horizontal plane of his body. Fantails also have distinct forked tail lobes on the bottom rear that resemble fans from the rear view.

Compare the dorsal, or top fin, of two goldfish. Both types of fish have a single dorsal fin with all other fins in pairs. A fantail's fins are all slightly rounded on the dorsal extremities, rather than having a point on the front as a veiltail, which may tilt to one side or another when he swims.


  • It may take a few moments of watching goldfish swim to determine if they are indeed a veiltail or a fantail. The easiest angle for differences is from the rear as they swim away from you.
  • Both types of goldfish are fancy goldfish, show goldfish and are the same length.
  • Fancy goldfish do not swim or feed quickly. It is best to place slow-swimmers for tank mates so he will get enough food and not receive injuries to his flowing fins. Good tank mates include other species of goldfish including the water-bubble eye, celestial eye, telescope and lionhead goldfish. (ref 3)

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