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The beautiful Ranchu Goldfish is popular throughout the world. They originated in China and then in the later part of the 1800's were further developed in Japan. Having a round broad body and a large bulbous head, they are also known as the Buffalo-head Goldfish, especially in the Orient.
The Ranchu Fancy Goldfish are much prized in the Orient, and are bred there for highly competitive shows. In Chinese shows they are judged from the side, while in Japanese shows they are placed in shallow bowls and judged from the top. Though they are impressive viewed from either direction, it is from above them that you can see their broad back.
Rather than having the long slender body of the Common Goldfish or the Shubunkins, the Ranchu Goldfish is one of the more rounded or egg-shaped fancy gold fish. They closely resemble the Lionhead Goldfish with a compact broad body with short fins. Like the Lionhead, they lack a dorsal fin and will develop the fleshy 'raspberry' head growth. The Ranchu can be distinguished from the Lionhead by a much higher curved contour shape to its back and by its caudal (tail) fin. Its tail fin splays out to the sides often being almost horizontal and may have three or four lobes, while the Lionhead's caudal fin is quite similar to that of the Fantail Goldfish.
These fish come in a variety of colors with the most common being bi-colored as in the Gold and White Ranchu Goldfish or the Red and White Ranchu Goldfish. Then there is a Calico Ranchu Goldfish which in Japan is call Edonishiki. They can also be a deep red overall, shaded overall in a reddish to yellow-orange, or have red scales edged in white. They have also been known to be completely white or in some cases black.
The Ranchu Goldfish is considered a rather delicate fish and is not recommended for beginners. Its swimming ability is cumbersome because of its rounded body which is further diminished by the lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin. This is a trait that is also seen in the Lionhead, Bubble Eye, and Celestial Eye Goldfish.
Many of the elongated goldfish varieties like the the Common and Comet Goldfish, or the Shubunkins, are not really good companions for the Ranchu because they are fast swimmers and too competitive during feeding time. Better tank mates would be the other similarly handicapped dorsal less goldfish, or the less hardy Telescope and Celestial Goldfish. The Ranchu won't win any races, but if kept with other slow-moving varieties it should get plenty to eat and do well.
The goldfish of today are descendants of a wild carp fish, known as the Prussian Carp, Silver Prussian carp, or Gibel Carp Carassius gibelio (syn: Carassius auratus gibelio) which was described by Bloch in 1782. For many years it was believed that goldfish had originated from the Crucian Carp or Golden Carp Carassius auratus auratus described by Linnaeus in 1758, but more recent research is pointing toward the former.
These wild carp originated in Asia; Central Asia (Siberia). They inhabit the slow moving and stagnant waters of rivers, lakes, ponds, and ditches feeding on plants, detritus, small crustaceans, and insects. In the early 1500's these fish were exported first to Japan and then to Europe and were developed into the wonderful colors and forms of gold fish we see today.
The Ranchu Goldfish is one of the older varieties of fancy goldfish. They originated in China and then in the later part of the 1800's were further developed in Japan. They are also known as the Buffalo-head Goldfish, especially in the Orient. Other common names of some of the Ranchu Fancy Goldfish varieties are Red and White Ranchu Goldfish, Gold and White Ranchu Goldfish, and Calico Ranchu Goldfish.
The Ranchu and all other dorsal less fish resulted from developments of this egg shaped fish. The Eggfish itself is not popular in the United States. Although it can be found in the orient, it is very rare in the US and would be expensive. Today there are more than 125 captive bred fancy varieties.
Scientific Name: Carassius auratus auratus
Social Grouping: Groups
IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed - There are no wild populations of this captive bred variety.
The Ranchu Goldfish is an egg-shaped variety of goldfish. The body is short and stubby with short fins. They lack a dorsal fin and will develop a fleshy 'raspberry' growth on the head. The back is broad with a highly curved contour shape. The caudal (tail) fin splays out to the sides, often being almost horizontal and may have three or four lobes.
Ranchu Goldfish will generally reach about 5 inches (13 cm), though some aquarists report them growing much larger. The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, though living 20 years or more is not uncommon in well maintained goldfish aquariums and ponds.
One of their most distinctive feature is the head, which except for its eyes, mouth and nostrils, can become completely covered with fleshy growth. The amount of head growth differs for each fish. For some the broad head, except for its eyes, mouth and nostrils, can become completely covered with fleshy growth (sometimes impeding their vision) while others may develop much less growth.
These fish come in a variety of colors with the most common being bi-colored in gold/white or white/red, and a calico which in Japan is call Edonishiki. They can also be a deep red overall, shaded overall in a reddish to yellow-orange, or have red scales edged in white. They have also been known to be completely white or in some cases black.
Size of fish - inches: 5.0 inches (12.70 cm) - If kept in excellent conditions this fish can grow to be larger than five inches, however five inches is a good length for this fish to reach.
Lifespan: 15 years - The average goldfish lifespan is 10 – 15 years, but they have been known to live 20 years of more when well maintained.
Fish Keeping Difficulty
Ranchu Goldfish are some of the more delicate species of goldfish. Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish, they have a lower tolerance for pollution. They will need good care and plenty of space. When it comes to feeding, they will not thrive well with fast competitive tank mates.
Many people will keep goldfish in an aquarium with no heater or filtration. But for the best success in keeping goldfish, provide them the same filtration, especially biological filtration, that other aquarium residents enjoy.
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Difficult - This fish is often highly inbred leading to genetically weak specimens. The wen is very prone to infection. Ranchu Goldfish are generally considered to be among the less hardy of goldfish types.
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate - Ranchu Goldfish require a more experienced keeper to maintain their rather delicate health.
Foods and Feeding
Since they are omnivorous, the Ranchu Goldfish will generally eat all kinds of fresh, frozen, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food everyday. To care for your Ranchu Goldfish, feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), blood worms, Daphnia, or tubifex worms as a treat. It is usually better to feed freeze-dried foods as opposed to live foods to avoid parasites and bacterial infections that could be present in live foods. Due to their fleshy head growth they can have poor vision and a harder time seeing their food, so need extra time to feed.
Diet Type: Omnivore
Flake Food: Yes
Tablet Pellet: Yes
Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
Meaty Food: Some of Diet
Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day
Regular weekly water changes of 1/4 to 1/3 is strongly recommended to keep these fish healthy. Snails can be added as they reduce the algae in the tank, helping to keep it clean.
Water Changes: Weekly
Setting up a goldfish aquarium in a manner that will keep your fish happy and healthy is the first step to success. The shape and size of the aquarium is important and depends upon the number of goldfish you are going to keep. These fish need a lot of oxygen and produce a lot of waste.
Good filtration, especially biological filtration, is very helpful in maintaining the water quality of the aquarium. Filtration systems remove much of the detritus, excess foods and waste. This in turn helps to keep the tank clean and maintain the general health of the goldfish.
Tank parameters to consider when choosing a goldfish aquarium:
Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house a Ranchu Goldfish. It's best to start with a 20 - 30 gallon tank for your first goldfish and then increase the size of the tank by 10 gallons for each additional goldfish. Providing a large amount of water per fish will help dilute the amount of waste and reduce the number of water changes needed..
Always provide the maximum amount of surface area. A large surface area of water will help minimize goldfish suffering from an oxygen shortage. Surface area is determined by the shape of the tank. For example an elongated tank offers more surface area (and oxygen) than a tall tank. In an oval or round shaped tank the middle offers more surface area than filling it to the top.
Number of fish
For juveniles a general rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish (2.54 cm) per 1 gallon of water. But this rule only applies to young fish and is not adequate as they grow. Larger gold fish consume much more oxygen than young fish so maintaining this formula for growing fish will stunt them, and can contribute to disease and even death.
Fish size and growth
To allow for proper growth, either buy fewer fish than the maximum number or be prepared to get a larger tank. To prevent stunted growth and other health problems, don't overstocking the aquarium.
Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish however, the Ranchu Goldfish have a lower tolerance for pollution and cannot tolerate temperatures much below 60° F (16° C).
Provide a gravel substrate to help create a natural and comfortable environment for your fish. You can add some decor, but make sure that all ornamentation is smooth with no protruding points or sharp edges. Smooth rocks or driftwood should be used sparingly if at all. Aquarium plants would be the best choice of aquarium decor for goldfish, but unfortunately these fish are diggers. Consequently live plants may be uprooted. Artificial plants make a good substitute and silk plants are safer than plastic ones.
Most aquariums come with a cover that includes lighting. A cover for the tank is desirable as it reduces evaporation and though they are not prone to jumping, on occasion some gold fish will jump out. Lighting is not essential for goldfish, but does make the aquarium a nice show piece and lighting will help if you have live plants.
Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. The salinity level for C. auratus must be kept low, below 10% with a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) - Ten gallons is the absolute minimum required to house this fish. It has high oxygen requirements, produces a lot of waste. It will have very stunted growth if it is kept in a smaller aquarium.
Suitable for Nano Tank: Sometimes
Substrate Type: Any - A medium sized gravel works best.
Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
Temperature: 65.0 to 72.0° F (18.3 to 22.2° C) - Goldfish are a cold water fish and will do best at temperatures between 65 - 72° F (18°- 22° C). Unlike the flat-bodied types of goldfish however, the Ranchu cannot tolerate temperatures much below 60° F (16° C).
Range ph: 6.0-8.0
Hardness Range: 5 - 19 dGH
Brackish: Sometimes - Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they have some tolerance for slightly brackish water. Any salinity for must be kept low, below 10%, a specific gravity of less than 1.002.
Water Movement: Moderate
Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.
Goldfish are very social animals and thrive in a community. Not only are they a great community fish but they are great scavengers as well. It is really not necessary to add other scavengers or other bottom feeders to the aquarium when you have goldfish.
When choosing tank mates, keep in mind the physical traits of the Ranchu Goldfish. Like the Lionhead Goldfish, Telescope Goldfish and the Celestial Goldfish, the Ranchu can be visually handicapped. Further its swimming ability is cumbersome because of its rounded body and the lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin, a trait that is also seen in the Water-Bubble Eye Goldfish. While the Ranchu cannot readily compete for food with fast swimming types of goldfish, these similarly handicapped varieties can make good companions.
Same species - conspecifics: Yes
Peaceful fish (): Safe
Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
Plants: Threat - Goldfish will eat many kinds of aquatic plants, and their constant search for food can end up uprooting plants that they don't eat.
Sex: Sexual differences
Although is it impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, the male is usually smaller and more slender that the female. In the breeding season the male has white prickles, called breeding tubercles, on its gill covers and head. Seen from above the female will have a fatter appearance as she is carrying eggs.
Goldfish are subject to the same diseases as tropical fish. A couple of the more common problems are Ich, Swim Bladder Disease, and external parasites including flukes, lice and anchor worms. For more in-depth information about goldfish diseases and illnesses, see: Goldfish Care; Fancy Goldfish and Goldfish Diseases.
The Ranchu Goldfish is readily available in fish stores and on-line, but is a more costly than most other varieties.