Ravishing Ryukins

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on May 11, 2023

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Some “fancy” goldfish have earned themselves a reputation for being temperamental. In our experience these claims have some basis in truth but can also be a bit overblown. One of our favorite Fancies here is the Ryukin Goldfish as they have the gorgeous appearance of the other fancy goldfish, while still being quite hardy and more active than most.

There is a chain of Islands that connect Japan and Taiwan called the Ryukyu Islands and it is here that the Ryukins came to fame and got their name! Like all the different varieties of Goldfish, they originally came from mainland China; and like many (but certainly not all) other varieties of Fancies, they got colorful and famous in Japan. They are written references to them going all the way back to the late 1700s! (Some of the other fancy varieties go back even further!)

Ryukin Goldfish have some similarities to Fantails in that both have a triangular body shape, are available in a range of colors, from gold, black, white, red, even calico, and both varieties are famous for their extravagant fins and double tails. Unlike the fantail, Ryukin Goldfish also have a large hump on their backs, which gives them a bit of a dart-head and a pointed mouth. They have fat bellies to match the curved backbone and dorsal hump. They are generally narrower than Fantails or Ranchus.

Ryukins are among the most popular of the Fancy goldfish, in part because of how easy they are. Like all Goldfish, Ryukins will like relatively cool water, from the upper 60s to the mid 70s is ideal, though they are tolerant of temps a bit outside this range. They are pretty tolerant of hard or soft water and a range of pH values, as long as this value isn't more than a point(ish) away from seven. We suggest keeping them in a 40 gallon tank as a minimum and they could be kept in as large a tank as you want, they are even excellent in ponds! (Given your climate is prone to reasonable temperatures.) They really only have two things they need outside of the ordinary and both are very easy to manage. The first of those two things is water quality, and as such, we recommend having a very strong filter for keeping them (and truthfully all goldfish.)

Strong filtration is sometimes a catch-point for fancy goldfish keepers as the fish will struggle to swim in the amount of flow that is required to keep the tank as clean as they like. This is not a problem for the Ryukins, who are surprisingly adept swimmers. This ability has also given them a bit of a petulant attitude and they will sometimes pick on slower fish, or even eat smaller ones. As such, we don't recommend keeping them with other fancy Goldfish that have double tails or are otherwise plodding swimmers. We do recommend keeping them together through, as they do much better (and are a more attractive display) in groups of at least four or five. You could also keep them with other Goldfish or Koi that were of similar size and swimming ability.

The other thing that Ryukins can be sensitive to is digestive issues. It is important that you feed them a high quality sinking food so that they don't ingest air. High quality sinking pellets, like those from Nutramar, dissociate in their digestive tracts more completely, instead of swelling, which aids digestion for the fish. While Nutramar's pellets are a great source of all the nutrition your Ryukin will actually need, many goldfish keepers also recommend supplementing their diet with vegetable matter, which should be blanched before feeding. Blanching is a process in which you drop fresh vegetables in boiling water and then remove them after a few seconds, placing them immediately into ice water to stop the cooking. This helps the tougher fibers break down while maintaining nutritive value. Good vegetables for this include: lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli and apples or pears. If you notice that your Ryukin hasn't been *ahem* passing their food, you can try feeding them blanched, shelled peas as well. For the most part, if you feed them a quality sinking pellet, and occasional live food and vegetables, your fish shouldn't ever have problems.

Goldfish will appreciate plants in aquariums, but will root around in the substrate and also eat plants as they see fit. If you are set on having a planted Goldfish aquarium, see our article on alternative goldfish setups, or fall back on any of the very lifelike silk plants. We recommend sand or rounded gravel for substrate and choosing smooth sided rocks and other décor. Goldfish tanks look great with minimalist designs and open space is appreciated by them as well.

If you are interested in breeding your Ryukins, start with a small group of them (which you should doing anyway) and begin to “condition” your fish with plenty of good food, and lots of places for them to lay eggs like spawning mops or the previously mentioned fake plants or flat surfaces. Slowly drop the aquarium temperature down to about 60 degrees if possible, then increase the temperature then until you reach the low 70’s all while continuing to feed high quality food. The fish should then spawn on their own, and you will notice the males chasing females around. They will gyrate together close to a spawning surface and the female will deposit up to 1000 eggs. Once they are laid, you can remove the item they were laid on as the parents will eat their own eggs! Eggs should hatch in about a week and can be fed baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food.

Ryukin Goldfish are gorgeous, hardy and very active, especially in regards to the other fancy goldfish. They are personable and can learn to recognize their keepers and have even been trained to hand feed. Properly cared for Ryukins can live for a couple decades with good care and a bit of luck! Talk to your local fish store about ordering one of our sustainably farmed Ryukin Goldfish from Aquatropic today!