Goldfish Selecting and Rearing - Jikin by Gina Hechinger AKA Jikin Junkie
Jikin are a large bodied Japanese breed of top view goldfish with a unique four leaf clover tail and striking red and white coloration. Whenever you begin culling, you should have a good example of a champion Jikin to look at for reference. Remember that is your goal and you should keep that ideal in the back of your mind as your fish grow.
When I work with a large spawn, I remove it from the main tank and divide it into three 25 gallon tubs with half the tank water and small air stone for circulation before hatching. I do not use heaters because I have had heaters cook spawns in the past and my fish room stays at 72-74 degrees which seems to be fine. I like using a three tub method to separate out large spawns, this serves two functions. First, it gives me three separate systems so that if something happens to one tub because of equipment malfunction, or it crashes, I still have some fry left to work with. Second, it makes growing out/culling a lot easier because I'm dealing with a smaller amount of fry to look at in each tub instead of a mass of tiny little fish.
Jikin fry are very tiny and grow slowly so I like to give them a good while to grow before I begin my culling. When they stop looking like an exclamation point with eyes and you can begin to see tails form. First I will do a quick check to make sure there are no bent, crooked looking little fry. Next thing I like to look for are the tails. Jikin have the double tail so this is the easiest to cull for. I don't remove them from the tubs to look at them from the side, instead I just get a good overhead light and spend a lot of time looking down. At this point I'm looking for tails that are symmetrical, no three lobed or single tails. Single tails are culled out with a small brine shrimp net, though I have found very few in any spawn. Those fish should be discarded. You will look for two symmetrical tails from the top, so that when the fry are not moving around the tale would look like a "U" and not a "V".
When I find a "v" tail I don't discard just yet, I move it to my #2 tub. I like to wait a good 3-4 months until they are about 2 inches or large enough to handle being scooped into a viewing container. When I do move fry around, I gently scoop with a container. Never use a net; this may damage a small fish. So the end result is one tub that has “U” shaped tails from the top looking down and the second tub has “V” shaped tails while the third tub is culls and small fish. I hang on to as many fish as I can because my eyes and judgment are not so good. A fish that was moved into the second tub may end up being a show fish in the end depending on tail growth and how it colors up. It is good to grow out as many fish as you can. The older they get, the easier it is to find faults and flaws.
Jikins are slow growing and slow to decolor from the bronze stage. You will always concentrate on the tails first as the fish is growing and then color second. After they grow on to about two or three inches I will pull them out for side viewing. They are still bronze at this stage but you will be able to see any fish that are too short, humpbacked, that have tails held out flat, or droop down. A good tail will look like a four leaf clover from behind when the fish is at rest. At this point you should also begin to notice single or double anal fins. You will want fish with double anal fins. As you cull, you should have the least amount of fish in tub one and the most in tub three. Now when the fish start to lose their bronze color, the red and white will emerge. A perfect Jikin will have red lips, gills plates and all red fins with a clean silvery white body. It will be under 10% of most spawns that reach that perfect balance of color. You may find that a fish with less than ideal tail type to have excellent color whereas a fish that is all red be ideal in shape and tail conformation, this is why you should hang on to a good amount of your spawn. Ideally tub one ( now a much bigger tub of 50-100gal) will contain show fish and prime breeders to groom, tub two should contain backup breeders and saleable fish. Tub three should be saleable or culls depending on how hard you whittled down your stock. Culling Jikin is a slow careful process, keep them in roomy conditions and always keep an idea or picture of that perfect fish in mind.