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, Ryukins 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?
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!
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!
Special Ryukin Care
Ryukins are one of the most hardy of the fancy goldfish, and make wonderful first goldfish for beginners. They are able to withstand a wide range of temperatures and have been known to tolerate fluctuations in water parameters easier than other more sensitive varieties. Some things you need to know about caring for a Ryukin is that they will need more vertical space than longer types of fancy goldfish, such as the Oranda. They have not been very hybridized, unlike dorsal-less goldfish, and thus are not very fragile – though they are not as hardy as the common goldfish. But as their body shape has been selectively modified to be very short, their intestinal tract is vulnerable to constipation. As Ryukins age, their swim bladders may not function as they should and they might swim with their nose pointing down or up to the surface of the water – or even with their stomachs dragging on the substrate of the tank!
Ryukins are omnivores, and will eat both fresh and frozen foods with zeal. Feeding peas on a regular basis can help to prevent swim bladder issues and encourage good coloring when fed in conjunction with other veggies. Ryukins will appreciate being fed live foods as well flakes and pre-soaked pellets.
Ryukins can reach a size of 8 inches long and in some cases be even taller than they are long! Because of their hardiness, they will do quite well in outdoor ponds, but are bred to be viewed from the side. A tall tank of at least 20 gallons would be ideal for one. Be sure that the fish has enough room to swim without its belly brushing against the tank decorations or the substrate. If you choose to keep yours in a pond, be sure that no area of the pond is too shallow for them to swim without getting stuck and picked off by predators.
Because of their pointed head shape, Ryukins have been known to be very “pecky” fish and will bite and nibble on the others. Aggression is unfortunately a characteristic of many Ryukin temperaments. They are generally very active and full of energy. A Ryukin sporting breeding tubercles may move at such a high rate of speed he is a blur in the tank (this is only a slight exaggeration).
The question is not, “Would another goldfish be unkind to my Ryukin?” but rather, could you find a fish that yours will not bully? Generally among fancy goldfish, Ryukins do well only with other Ryukins for this very reason. They can each be aggressive toward each other but get along quite well in this balance.