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Calico Veiltail

Veiltail – nacreous (calico)


Normal eyed Veiltails are generally thought of by most keepers as the dream fish. The extremely graceful fish are very rare in North America. At the present time there are three dominant types; Philadelphia, English lines and Asian imported hybrids.

The Philadelphia Veiltail came to North America from Japan in 1893. The fish were to be exhibited at the World’s Fair in Philadelphia but passed in shipment, another set of fish were imported into Minnesota and these gradually formed the basis for the Philadelphia Veiltail. The original fish were Fringetails. Fringetails have all of the Veiltail traits including long pectoral fins, but the tail is not squared off. The records suggest that the surviving fish was crossed to other fish in order to preserve the genepool as none of the imported fish lasted very long. The accounts of this story are all over the map, it is best to look at early publications by Innes, or the two texts by Dr. Joseph Smartt. Today, Philadelphia Veiltails are kept and bred in North America by about 15 amateur breeders and kept by about 30-70 additional keepers.

The English Veiltail was formulated in the 1940’s and was “probably” imported by Commander Whitehead on two occasions. Winston Churchill really liked these fish and got some from Blue Ridge Nurseries in Maryland (still in operation today). Some of the English publications may report this this differently, but there is some newspaper documentation about the Churchill visit. English Veiltails were imported into North America by Glenn Wachner early in this century. The calico version is widely distributed, the metallic grouped has disappeared and is most probably extinct in North America

The Asian Veiltail imports continue to come into the United States annually form Chinese in origin. Historically the metallic have not bred true, while the calico specimens show some promise.

These striking, long finned fish are extremely beautiful and graceful. When acquiring these fish, it should be remembered that the long flowing fins never quit growing. While the giant flowing fins look great on fish under three years of age, after that the long finned fish often find the tail fin (often described as a sail) as a burden or perhaps a sea anchor. This often leads to bottom sitting, tail standing or hanging in a clump of plants (or breeding pompoms/ mops). Over the last decade, breeders are selecting for fish with shorter tails and thicker peduncles.

Presently in North America nacreous Veiltails are available for all three types of normal eyed Veiltails. The English Veiltails are no longer being imported and the beautiful stock that is in North America is mostly have a Kirin scale type.

© Merlin Cunliffe 2016

Breed Development

Calico Veiltails are at least two color and a mixture of metallic (shiny) scales and transparent scales. The fish has a classic Fantail body, so only a slight rise not a hump like a Ryukin. Judges will have issue with this in the future as Broadtail Ryukin are now common in the “fancy” and the off spring will show in the Broadtail Ryukin or Veiltail category. Judges are trained to consider moving an entry to a different class instead of penalizing. Also if breeders have numerous Broadtail Ryukins, they may decide to place entries in both Ryukins and Veiltails. TGC, therefore allows a hump exception for Broadtail Ryukins.

Critical features are numerous and are listed blow;

  1. Face is in alignment with the back and there is not a step like in a Ryukin.

  2. Dorsal fin height is ½ to ¾ the depth of the body.

  3. The tail is split from 2/3 to 100% of its’ length.

  4. The tail is ½ to 2/3 the body length

  5. The tail should be squared off, but may be slightly indented.

  6. Pectoral fins should be longer than other varieties. The fins are preferred to be straight, but they are often scalloped, twisted.

  7. Anal fins should be paired and similar, twists are possible.

  8. Nariel flares are acceptable.

Key deductions / write downs include the following;

  1. Turned down mouth (carp mouth).

  2. Fused tail fins.

  3. Enlarged veins in the tail.

  4. Extra mucus in globs/ patches on tail.

  5. Bottom Sitting.

  6. Tail Standing.


The judging of this variety is always exciting because of its’ rarity and exception features.

Maximum points awards are as follows;Fin development and shape30Body Shape20Head shape and position20Fin and body color10Overall Condition10Deportment10100

The complexity of the finnage is the most challenging part of judging this fish. The table below detail this unique feature;

Fin development and shapeDorsal Fin

Dorsal fin tall and ½ to ¾ the height of the body or more, does not fold when at rest30Dorsal fin tall and ½ to ¾ the height of the body or more, does fold when at rest or the fin has a wave in it.26Dorsal fin is not ½ as tall as the body25Dorsal fin has a rip, tear or an edge that abnormal22-25Tail Fin

Tail fins are matched and 2/3 to 100% split, trailing edge is square.30Tail fins are as above but not split, trailing edge is square10-25Tail fins are matched and 2/3 to 100% split, trailing edge is indented25-27Pectoral Fin

Fins are matched and are straight or cupped shaped30Fins are twisted or corkscrew in appearance28Fins are mismatched26-27Anal Fin

Two anal fins that are similar in appearance30One anal fin25No anal finsDisqualified

Dorsal Fin, Tail Fin, Pectoral Fin and Anal Fin value are averaged for a final score

Body Shape

Fish must swim and not drag its’ tail.Body shape similar to a Fantail, depth ½ to 2/3 the length20Body shape similar to a Oranda, depth 2/3 to ¾ the length20Body shape similar to a Ryukin depth 2/3 to 3/4 the length, Broadtail Ryukin Exception20Body depth is not deep enough and described above15

Head shape and positionHead is Fantail shaped, dorsal back of the head matched the shape of the back, no hump.20Head is Fantail shaped, dorsal back of the head matched the shape of the back, no hump.

In older fish, the fish may have some head growth.20Head is Ryukin shaped, or pointed, dorsal back of the head, proceeds to a hump. This option is only allowed for Broadtail Ryukins. If not a BTR, score in15 or less.18Head is short, and gill plates are short or twisted15Head is pointed15

Fin and body color*Fin Color

Fin color patterns are all the same.10Fins have some colors that are matched, some are not8Coloration of fins is faded7Body Color

Body has three or more colors10Body has only two colors10Body color is muddy5

*Translucent fins are acceptable, Fin color and Body color are averaged

Overall Condition

Fish must be active and vigorous, fish that appear to not be able to support the tail and are discounted. Judge looks for the fins to be clear and not cloudy


Fish does not drag tail, or use tail for support.

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