Ranchu Goldfish: Raising the Amazing Fancy Goldfish
I am a ranchu goldfish enthusiast and am writing this article for people interested in having ranchu goldfish as a pet. I will put some tips on keeping ranchus and common problems and things to consider when looking into this species of goldfish.
I have two ranchu in a 4-foot tank: one black ranchu and the other a red and white one, both around 1 years old.
Meet the Ranchu
The ranchu is a popular goldfish species and is especially popular in Japan for its unique appearance and resemblance to a small puppy. Ranchus can be very friendly, and some people are actually able to pat their ranchus or even train them to do little tricks. The ranchu goldfish was bred in Japan from different types of lionhead goldfish.
The ranchu has a quite fat, egg-shaped body, and when it is fully grown, it can look quite strange—but this is the attraction for goldfish enthusiasts. The ranchu also has very beautiful head growths which are prized by goldfish breeders.
Tank Size and Conditions
Like all goldfish, they require a decent-size tank, and the most important factor when choosing the tank is the surface area of the water. This ensures enough oxyen for your fish, so when choosing a tank, a long rectangular tank is preferred over a tall tank.
The ranchu goldfish is a very slow swimmer and because of its body shape does not cope with strong currents, so make sure that you have a good filter that is not too strong or is being pointed at a rock or some plants to reduce the strength of the current.
The best thing to feed your ranchu is any type of sinking pellet. It is also beneficial to include easily digestible plant foods such as duckweed, algae, and wheat germ to aid digestion.
For a treat, ranchus enjoy oranges, mandarins, live food, worms, and shrimp. I currently use a specially formulated ranchu food made by Hikari fish food to produce strong, colourful, and healthy ranchu.
Remember that normal rules apply when feeding your goldfish, depending on the temperature. At temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius, the goldfish's digestive system works optimally. At cold temperatures, they will have trouble digesting, and if they eat too much from overfeeding, they can bloat and even struggle to digest the food completely and die. So take care when feeding your ranchu.
The most common ranchu problem I have seen is swim bladder, where the ranchu will swallow too much oxygen and eventually keep floating up to the top of the tank and then eventually flipping over. This condition can be avoided by feeding your ranchu sinking pellets so they don’t have to come up to the water level to get the food. Feeding your ranchu easily digestible food such as duckweed and plants can also help relieve swim bladder problems.
The other problem I have seen is that your ranchu may suck on pebbles and often accidentally swallow them, so it's very important to ensure the pebbles in your tank (if you have any) are small enough pass through the ranchu’s body. Sand could be a great alternative to pebbles and can give your fish tank a nice beachy look.
When ranchus are fully grown, they can fetch very high prices; for example, a five-year-old purebred ranchu can set you back around $100 US and even higher, depending on the size and vibrant colors of your ranchu. At most pet shops I have looked at, you are able to buy a ranchu for around $20 US for a 6–7 cm ranchu, which is a very reasonable price. Look for a similar price; otherwise, you may be getting ripped off.
Where to Get Your Ranchu
Ranchus are not a very common fish species found in most pet stores, so it may take a bit of fish hunting to find it. If you are unable to find a ranchu in your local fish shop, the next option is an online fish shop as the number of online shops has increased dramatically. Doing a quick search on Google should come up with some great results. I’ve previously ordered all my fish online, even the tropical fish.
Is My Ranchu Purebred?
How to spot if your ranchu is purebred: One simple way is to look at the curve from the top of the head to the tail. If it is a nice and smooth curve, you most likely have a purebred; if there are a few lumps or higher bumps, you may have a cross-bred ranchu which has not been totally bred out of other goldfish species features.
Sadly, my red and white ranchu passed away a few weeks ago, and the reason he died was that he kept trying to pick up food off the gravel. He ended up eating a lot of little bits of gravel and not being able to pass them through his system. When I pulled him out of the tank, he weighed a ton, full of pebbles—poor fish.
Anyway, this is just a reminder so you can choose a gravel size that's easier enough for them to pass or too big to swallow—or maybe choose a safer option than gravel, even though no gravel means less room for bacteria to live in and it takes away from your aquaculture designs.
Goldfish competitions are very popular in Japan, and the ranchu is one of the most popular contest fish. Japan holds many competitions that judge your ranchus for health, color and especially the famous head growths.