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Home > Goldfish > Ranchu vs Lionhead Goldfish: Main Differences (With Pictures)

Ranchu vs Lionhead Goldfish: Main Differences (With Pictures)

Ranchu vs Lionhead Goldfish

Despite their minor visual differences, Ranchu and Lionhead goldfish make equally excellent pets. Peacefully natured, with beautiful colors and cute, chubby faces, these two breeds bring joy and appeal to many goldfish lovers. The Ranchu and Lionhead both have delightfully chunky bodies, and they are two of the most slow-moving breeds of goldfish available.

Unfortunately, neither the Ranchu nor Lionhead goldfish is a good beginner goldfish. Both have been bred in such a way that most of their natural organs and body parts are compromised. This means they have to be specially housed and fed an advanced diet to avoid swim bladder and digestive issues. Extra care should be given when housing these goldfish, as too much flow in the tank can leave them struggling to swim. Additionally, you will have to take care when choosing compatible tank mates to ensure that they are also slow moving.divider-fish

Visual Differences

Ranchu vs Lionhead Goldfish - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Galina Savina, Shutterstock | Right – Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Ranchu Goldfish
  • Average size (adult): 6 to 12 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7 to 10 ounces
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Friendly tankmate: Yes, among their own species
  • Trainability: High
Lionhead Goldfish
  • Average size (adult): 6 to 10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 5 to 10 ounces
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, among their own species
  • Trainability: High


Ranchu Goldfish Overview

goldfish Ranchu_bluehand_shutterstock
Credit: bluehand, Shutterstock

Personality and Characteristics

Ranchu are a peaceful type of fancy goldfish. These fish are social creatures, enjoying the company of other slow-moving goldfish of the same size. They are slow swimmers and will wiggle around the tank, not quite as sleekly as their slimmer counterparts. They show a great interest in food and will even recognize the owner who feeds them. This will develop into a behavior where they will swim to the glass on the nearest side to you. As part of a peaceful goldfish fish community, Ranchus are docile-natured fish and are not known to be aggressive fin nippers or chasers.

Health & Care

The Ranchu goldfish is easy to maintain and care for. As long as you meet your Ranchu’s care requirements, they will remain healthy and happy. Ranchu goldfish should have a spacious tank with a filter and aerator included. The goldfish should be fed a balanced and healthy diet composed of sinking foods and the occasional blanched vegetable daily.


Ranchu goldfish can be trained to do a few tricks. This includes eating out of your hand, swimming through hoops, and even lying in your hand.


Swim space is important for Ranchu goldfish. Although they are not overly demanding when it comes to housing, Ranchus require enough swimming space to ensure that their muscles and swimming patterns develop appropriately.


Ranchus breed when they are fully mature, usually after 1 to 2 years of age. The female will carry and lay the eggs, which the male then fertilizes. The goldfish will attempt to eat the eggs, so it is best to remove them as soon as possible if you plan on successfully breeding your goldfish.

Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

Tank Size

Tank size for Ranchu goldfish is especially important. Young Ranchus under 1 year old require at least a tank over 5 gallons. The tank that you purchase or plan to house your Ranchu goldfish in should have enough space for decorations, filtration, and aeration and still have the majority of the space available to swim comfortably in.


Ranchu goldfish require a diet high in protein and vegetation, as this is their primary diet in their natural environment. Gel food, sinking flakes, and pellets created for goldfish make a great staple diet for your goldfish. Occasional treats, such as dried tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and other live or processed protein sources, are also good in moderation.

Many goldfish die as a result of improper feeding, diet, and/or portion sizes – which can be easily prevented by proper education.

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Suitable For:

Ranchu goldfish are suitable for intermediate to advanced aquarium keepers. If you keep a large tank stocked with handicapped slow-moving goldfish, your Ranchu will fit right in. These fish are suitable for owners who do not mind the finless look of these goldfish. Ranchu will make a friendly and peaceful tank mate in your goldfish aquarium. They do not make good first-time pets for children, as they are more delicate than other goldfish and prone to a variety of health issues if not kept appropriately.

  • Peaceful
  • Attractive in aquariums
  • Require a smaller tank than other goldfish
  • Slow moving
  • Prone to swim-bladder problems
  • Need to maintain a special diet to avoid health issues


Lionhead Goldfish Overview

Image Credit: apiguide, Shutterstock

Personality and Characteristics

Lionhead goldfish are friendly and peaceful aquarium fish. They do not commonly display aggressiveness toward tank mates. They are slow-moving fish, getting along well with visually impaired goldfish, such as the Black Moor goldfish. They may not grow large, but they have big personalities to make up for it! They are one of the first fish in the tank to meet you by the glass for food. Their memory is excellent, and their beady eyes will instantly recognize you when you are near.

Exercise & Tank Size

Lionhead goldfish are on the smaller side, but that does not mean they require a small tank. Lionheads do best in a tank over 10 gallons to ensure proper muscle development and appropriate exercise. Cramped conditions limit the swim space that your goldfish has to exercise, which they do by actively swimming the length and height of their tank.


Lionhead goldfish can be trained to do a variety of underwater tricks. They can swim through hoops, eat out of your hand, and push a sinking or floating ball around.

Health & Care

Lionhead goldfish are undemanding and easy to care for. They do require a special diet to ensure that they do not get problems like a swim bladder. In general, their overbred bodies have led them to become compromised and easily prone to a variety of health issues.

Lionhead goldfish
Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock


Lionhead goldfish are ready to breed at the mature age of 1 to 2 years old. The male will chase the female indicating a mating interest. The female will lay eggs around the tank, which the male will fertilize. Breeding is triggered in a period of low water temperatures.


Good-quality sinking foods and protein supplements ensure an appropriate diet is being fed, though deshelled peas should be offered once a week.

Suitable For:

Lionhead goldfish are suitable for seasoned aquarists who will be able to meet the dietary requirements that they need to stay in good health. They do well in slow-moving goldfish tanks with other peaceful goldfish tank mates. They do not make good pets for young kids, as the maintenance that these fish require is not ideal for them. When kept with good company and in a shallow goldfish tank, a Lionhead makes a great pet.

  • Easy to train
  • Can be housed in small tanks
  • Breed easily
  • Slow moving
  • Not good for young children
  • Prone to swim bladder problems


Ranchu Goldfish Appearance and Color Varieties

Ranchu goldfish are stocky-bodied goldfish. They are bred to have a unique look that makes them appear as if they have minimal fins. The scales can appear shiny and metallic or nacreous.

They come in a variety of colorations, such as:
  • Solid red
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Calico
  • Bi-colored
  • Solid white

Lionhead Goldfish Appearance and Color Varieties

Lionheads are a type of hooded goldfish variety. They display a wen (a raspberry-like tissue developing on their head), which causes them to be top heavy and swim with their head downward.

They come in a variety of colors, such as:
  • Orange
  • Chocolate
  • Red
  • Black
  • Calico
  • Bi-colored
  • White

Lionhead and Ranchu Goldfish Diet Considerations

Lionhead and Ranchu goldfish are not as easy to feed as many other goldfish. They require diets planned out to appropriately feed them high-quality foods without compromising their swim bladder. This is an unfortunate result of overbreeding. These two goldfish were bred for their unique and unusual features, which causes their body to be overly round, resulting in a compressed swim bladder organ. The fins are small and disproportionate, making these fish have to work extra hard to get around the tank. This tires them out easily, and high-quality sinking food should be fed twice a day in small portions.

Tank Height Requirement

Due to the compromised swim bladder organ, both the Lionhead and Ranchu goldfish require a shallow tank that’s lengthy. This is to help them move easier to the surface of the water to intake oxygen, should there be a lack thereof. The shallower the tank, the fewer buoyancy issues these two fish seem to have.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

With both goldfish breeds offering a mixed variety of appearances, colors, and sizing, they can be enticing! It is ideal to determine which breed will suit your needs. If you prefer a finless, colorful, and chunky-bodied goldfish and you keep a tank of other handicapped goldfish, the Ranchu will be the right breed for you. If the sight of wen growth and an enlarged face with a narrow body makes you giggle with delight, the Lionhead goldfish is a good choice.

Featured image credit: Top – Tina Hosler, Pexels | Bottom – Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

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