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The celestial is rare in UK, being a novelty fish here, but it is popular in
China and USA; they are very hard work to breed to the standard. They need to
be kept in tanks free of entanglements and without strong overhead lighting;
given these conditions, they lead perfectly normal lives.
Celestials first appeared around 1870. In Japan the celestial is called the
The celestial standard is as follows:
- Depth of body to be approximately 50% of body length.
- Caudal fin to be divided and forked with slightly rounded well spread lobes held above the horizontal.
- Dorsal fin to be absent, all other fins to be paired and their extremities slightly rounded.
- Eyes to be protruding slightly outwards and looking upwards from surface of head.
- Minimum length of body to be 5.5 cm (2¼ inches).
The fish should be bright and alert. The body should be medium length with smooth contours and no sign of a dorsal fin. The caudal fin should be well divided, forked and held above the horizontal. The eyes should be well matched, looking upwards and well developed.
Metallic fish may be self-coloured (red, orange, yellow, blue, brown or black) or variegated (any combination of red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, black and white) in a pleasing pattern similar on each side. Quality fish will have high colour intensity and metallic shine extending into the fins.
Calico fish should have a blue background with patches of violet, red, orange, yellow, brown and white, spotted with black. Quality fish should have a high intensity of colour evenly distributed over the body, with colour, especially black, extending into the fins.
Ideal profiles are illustrated below:
Adult celestial, variegated red/silver-white colouration
This is a recent good example of the type, with good body depth, although the tail lobes are somewhat long for the British standard. Shown at BAS 2008.
Adult celestial, red metallic, 2001
This fish was shown at BAS 2001 and has the typical long-lobed, Far Eastern
Adult celestial, red metallic, 2003 - selective breeding
This fish was shown in 2003 and illustrates selective breeding in action -
it is from the same stock as the 2001 exhibit (above) and, over the two intervening
years, the breeder has developed the shorter, wider tail lobes (fantail-type)
of the standard and has improved (deepened) the red colouration.
Young celestials, self-coloured red metallic
The above two fish have the long, narrow bodies and long tail lobes of Far
Eastern imports and were photographed in a pet shop.
Chinese silver celestials, the rear one with red finnage and gill covers, photographed in low light giving an unrealistic mauve colour cast, Hong Kong 2010.
Young metallic red-white variegated celestials and a red-black fish, together with two red bubble eyes .(There is a red cast to the photograph: the silver-white colouration appears pink). Photographed in Hong Kong, December 2003.
© Bristol Aquarists' Society