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Ranchu vs Lionhead Goldfish: Which Breed is Right for You?

Oliver Jones

Despite their minor visual differences, Ranchu and Lionhead goldfish make equally excellent pets. Peacefully natured, showcasing 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, making them both two of the most slow-moving breeds of goldfish available.

Both the Ranchu and Lionhead goldfish are, unfortunately, not good beginner goldfish. They 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. You will have to take care when choosing compatible tank mates to ensure they are slow-moving as well.divider-fishbowl

Visual Differences

At a Glance

Ranchu and Lionhead Goldfish (1)
Image Credit: Left: Ranchu (bluehand, Shutterstock) Right: Lionhead Goldfish(Pixabay)
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, a mong its 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, a mong its own species
  • Trainability: High

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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 descendants. 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 composing of sinking foods and the occasional blanched vegetable daily.

Training

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.

Exercise

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 their muscles and swimming patterns develop appropriately.

Breeding

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.

Beautiful,Of,Ranchu,Fancy,Goldfish,In,Fresh,Water,Glass,Tank
Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

Tank size

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

Diet

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.

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 tankmate 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.

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

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Lionhead Goldfish Overview

beautiful red lionhead goldfish_Arunee Rodloy_shutterstock
Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

Personality and Characteristics

Lionhead goldfish are friendly and peaceful aquarium fish. They do not commonly display aggressiveness towards 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

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 your goldfish has to exercise, which they do by actively swimming the length and height of their tank.

Training 

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 they do not get problems such as 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_Arunee Rodloy_shutterstock (2)
Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

Breeding

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 to which the male will fertilize. Breeding is triggered in a period of low water temperatures.

Diet

Good quality sinking foods and protein supplements ensure an appropriate diet is fed alongside deshelled peas which should be offered once a week.

Suitable for:

Lionhead goldfish are suitable for seasoned aquarists who will be able to meet the dietary requirements 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 these fish require is not ideal for them. When kept with good company and in a shallow goldfish tank, Lionheads make a great addition.

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

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Ranchu Goldfish Appearance and Color Varieties

Ranchu goldfish are stocky-bodied goldfish. They are bred to have a unique look that showcases them to 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), this causes them to be top-heavy and swim with their head downwards.

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 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 a small 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.

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Which Breed is Right For You?

With both goldfish breeds offering a mixed variety of appearances, colors, and sizing, they can both be enticing! It is ideal to determine a breed that will suit your needs. If you prefer a finless, colorful, and chunky-bodied goldfish, and you keep a tank of other handicapped goldfish, then 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 makes a good choice.


Featured image credit: Shabira Shutterstock, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.