My favorite tank in my fish room is the butterfly telescope tank. When I first got into goldfish keeping back in 2009, it was the butterfly telescope that immediately captured my attention. They’re just so elegant with their big, butterfly-shaped tails and their cute bug eyes. I loved them so much that for many years, I had only butterfly telescopes. I made lots of videos about them and inspired many other goldfish enthusiasts to take a second look at this gorgeous variety. Even though I have branched out now and have multiple different goldfish varieties in my fish room, butterflies will always have a special place in my heart. Not only are they beautiful, but they also have some of the best personalities of all goldfish. They seem to be more tame and personable than other goldfish types on average. Maybe in part because they can’t see as well (although that’s debatable), but these guys always are the first to learn hand-feeding and they’re the biggest beggars. I can’t go anywhere in the fish room without Nalu following me around right at the front of the aquarium glass, wiggling back and forth so cute begging for food. They’re just the best! This tank is just one tank in my wall of 120 gallon aquariums stacked two-high on racks from Custom Aquariums. They have a fake tree stump background from Aqua Decor backgrounds, Sunset Gold sand by Caribsea, and a few large river rocks just to blend the background into the substrate. Sand is a great substrate for goldfish because it gives them an outlet for their natural behaviors. Goldfish are carp, and sifting through sand for bits of food is a natural behavior that they love to spend lots of time doing. Some tall live plants like vallisneria will eventually be added to this tank, but it is best not to cram a goldfish tank full of a lot of different decorations because they are clumsy, large fish (especially butterflies) that can easily damage their fins or scales on aquarium decorations.

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Meet the butterflies


Nalu was named by a Solid Gold Member, and her name means “wave” in Hawaiian. She is the most personable fish I own; always wiggling back and forth at the front of the glass begging for food. She’s the only fish I’ve ever had that I would say actually makes eye contact with me. It’s very unnerving and I must say, her technique for getting me to feed her works quite well. She’s also one of the best looking butterflies I’ve ever had, with a perfect body shape, a perfectly spread butterfly-shaped tail, symmetrical eyes, and a great color pattern. She is a calico, and more specifically she’s what we call a kirin type of calico.


Malina was named by a Solid Gold Member, and her name means “calming” in Hawaiian. I think of her and Nalu as best friends because they look so cute together. Malina is a calico also, but she’s not a kirin. She also has a perfect body shape, a great butterfly tail spread, and symmetrical eyes. In a show, she may lose points for having no blue in her color (a calico should have four colors: white, red, black, and blue), but I think her simple red/black/white color pattern is beautiful. 


Meeko came from Dandy Orandas in 2018. He’s HUGE – the biggest goldfish I own with Malina at a close second. He doesn’t have the best butterfly tail spread because his tail is a little too pinched (not spread out on a horizontal plane), but his striking color pattern more than makes up for it! He is what we call a tri-color and it’s very likely that as time goes on, his black color will slowly recede until it’s all gone and he is a red/white fish.


Kai is a red and white butterfly telescope from Dandy Orandas. Compared to the others, his fins are large compared to his body size, so while he still gets around, he does so in his own special way. His name was inspired by the character Kai from American Horror Story. Don’t you just love his little red “beak”? Another cute thing about Kai is that he has one red and one white nostril.


Alani is a little red butterfly telescope that was bred by my friend Josh from WaterPigs USA. His name means “orange” in Hawaiian. 


Hoku is technically not a butterfly, but he does come from butterfly telescope parents. It’s very common for butterfly telescope spawns to include a certain percentage of fry that have a short tail. So he’s really more of a short-tail telescope. He was also bred by Josh from WaterPigs USA and what’s cool about his are his batik scales. Instead of growing in neat rows, his scales grow in swirls. His name means “star” in Hawaii.