The Ryukin Goldfish: Swimming Proud and Tall

Ryukin Goldfish

The Ryukin goldfish, known for being one of the more imposing types of goldfish, makes an impressive addition to a collector’s aquarium or as a single fish in the tank.  Learn about this striking type of goldfish.


While similar to the Fantail goldfish in many respects, the Ryukin has a deep, tall body that is relatively compact.  It is the only goldfish breed whose body is taller than it is long.  Bred to be viewed from the side and admired for this confirmation, Ryukin goldfish are most commonly kept in indoor aquariums for that purpose.  The body itself is very narrow, much like a discus fish.  The head is triangular and pointed more than most goldfish breeds, and distinctive from the rest of the body.

It is characterized by the hump that protrudes from the base of the fish’s head and curves upward to the base of the dorsal fin.  This hump is called by breeders the “dorsal hump,” and has been bred to be very tall as to give the fish more height in the aquarium.  High backs are sought after among enthusiasts, and they can be found in even many chain stores.  The Ryukin’s fins are also similar to the Fantail’s, but a higher dorsal fin and perhaps shorter or longer tail fins make  it distinct.  Droopy dorsal fins are seen as undesirable.  Fantail, ribbontail, veiltail and fringetail finnage are known variants.  Ryukins come in the same color variations as the Fantail, the most common hues being solid reds and reds and whites.

Is My Fish a Ryukin Goldfish?

It is easy to mistake a Fantail for a Ryukin or the other way around if the dorsal hump is very slight.  Examining the body very closely for the presence of this hump and analyzing the proportions of the body can sometimes prove helpful.  Comparing your fish with photographs of known breeds can also help in identifying your fish as a Ryukin.

Sometimes it becomes apparent as the fish ages that it is a Ryukin, as young goldfish have often not developed the very deep bodies that they will when they get older.  Mature Ryukins are very easily identified by their towering back and very deep belly.  In some cases… only time will tell!

History of the Ryukin Goldfish

Ryukins were descended from the Fantail goldfish and brought to Japan in the mid 1700s.  Their name is derived from the Ryukyu Islands but the breed is said to have originated first in China.  Certainly much effort has been undertaken by the Japanese to develop the characteristics of the Ryukin, especially its dorsal hump and tall body.  The breed has a history of over 1,000 in cultivation!

Please go to the next page to read about special Ryukin goldfish care…