Ryukin Goldfish

All About The Ryukin Goldfish


The Ryukin Fancy Goldfish is just one of 15 of the most popular aquarium fish in the world. These seemingly ancient goldfish are beautiful and relatively easy to care for. Their easy going attitude could be exactly what you are looking for in a companion.

“There were hints of sunrise on the rim of the sky, yet it was still dark, and the traces of morning color were like goldfish swimming in ink.”
-Truman Capote

History: Where did the Ryukin Goldfish originate?

Originally bred in China, these beautiful creatures are one of the oldest goldfish breeds in the world. They were transported to Japan through the Ryukyu Islands (located between Japan and Taiwan) in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Are the Ryukyu Islands the inspiration for the naming of these fancy goldfish? Yes, as a matter of fact they are! The Ryukin has also been referred to as the Fantail, the Veiltail, the Fringetail, and the Japanese Ribbontail in the English language.

Physical Traits: How can I identify the Ryukin in an aquarium?

The Ryukin Goldfish is part of the “egg-shaped” group of goldfish. They have short, stubby bodies that are similar to the Fantail Fancy Goldfish. The Ryukin also appears to have a “humpback”. This raised back is unique to the Ryukin as many goldfish breeds have slightly humped or flat backs. Their dorsal hump helps to raise the dorsal fin thus creating a high dorsal fin. The Ryukin’s head is pointed rather than rounded, and their eyes are flattened or slightly domed rather than telescoped (like the Black Moor).

Other Characteristics to look for when attempting to identify a Ryukin include various details regarding the tail fin and of course their overall coloration. A Ryukin’s tail fin will usually be long and flowing. Some Ryukins have tail fins that are up to twice as long as their bodies are. Ryukins can also develop various tail types including a double, a triple, or even a quadruple tail fin. It is not uncommon for extra-long-tailed Ryukins to be renamed the Fringetail Fancy Goldfish or even the Ribbontail Fancy Goldfish. Ryukin Fancy Goldfish can be found in a variety of different colors and patterns. The most common being bi-colored (red and white). However, they can also come in pure red, white, and calico. Although, there have also been reported cases of the occasional chocolate colored Ryukin.

Care: Are Ryukin Fancy Goldfish difficult to care for?

These impressive fancy goldfish are one of the hardiest breeds to date! What does that mean? It means that the Ryukin can adapt quickly to a new environment, eat whatever is provided to him, and be comfortable living in cooler or warmer water temperatures (as long as they are not freezing or steaming). The Ryukin is a great “beginner fish” because they are not as delicate as other goldfish breeds (i.e. the Bubble Eyed Fancy Goldfish, or the Lionhead Fancy Goldfish). They could be described as having multiple personalities simply because they are sweet, and docile creatures some of the time and other times they are competitive and semi-aggressive. This will be important to remember when choosing their tankmates. Overall, the Ryukin is an easy going goldfish breed that requires standard goldfish care in order to be happy.

Feeding and nutrition: What do Ryukin Fancy Goldfish eat?

The Ryukin Goldfish (like all goldfish breeds) are omnivores. Sure, they enjoy those fish flakes that you bought from the pet store, but they would be much happier and healthier with a well-rounded diet. If you wish to continue feeding your Ryukin the fish flakes or fish pellets then consider mixing things up once in a while. Provide a few insects at lunchtime instead of a pinch of fish flakes or fish pellets. Maybe hand-feed your Ryukin some plants, roots or veggies when you get home from work. Do what you think your goldfish will enjoy and what you feel comfortable doing. Not everyone will feel comfortable hand feeding their Ryukin mosquito larvae, but you would be surprised how much the goldfish love this tasty treat! Other foods that your Ryukin would enjoy include algae, worms, and peas. Algae may not need to be provided by you as the tank may already contain algae for them to munch on. If you choose to provide worms, insects or other live foods to your goldfish, ask a fish expert before you go foraging in your backyard. There are some bugs and worms that may not be the best choice for them.

A word of advice, do not overfeed your goldfish! Goldfish love to munch and may even try to persuade you with their sad, starving eyes. Don’t fall for it! Goldfish should only be served what they can devour in a matter of minutes or less. Anything that isn’t consumed in that time frame will ultimately sink to the bottom of the aquarium, become moldy and will create an unsanitary environment for your goldfish. A dirty tank can lead to multiple health problems as well as death and an unattractive aquarium.

Habitat requirements: What kind of habitat should I provide my Ryukin Fancy Goldfish?

Ryukin Goldfish (like any goldfish) require a large enough tank with a large surface area, room to swim, and room to grow. If their tank or outdoor pond is not big enough or not deep enough then your goldfish may stop growing, contract an illness and die far earlier than they should. Goldfish can live for decades when provided with the proper habitat and care. A large tank or outdoor pond also means less chances for oxygen shortages (this is assuming you do not overpopulate your habitat). Goldfish can grow indefinitely; if the habitat is too small then the goldfish will become stunted and become ill far more easily than they would if given room to grow. Smaller tanks will also require more frequent cleanings and water changes.

Ryukin aquariums require a large outdoor pond or aquarium. They will also require a good filtration system to help keep their water circulating and clean between water changes. Water changes and tank cleanings should be done every one to two weeks. If you plan on using tap water, be sure to treat it with a water conditioner before adding it to your main aquarium. Ryukin may not be the most delicate goldfish breed, but they prefer to share their tanks with goldfish that are similar to themselves. Some goldfish researchers recommend the Comet, the Common or the Shubunkin as a tankmate for the Ryukin.

Personality and Temperament: How will the Ryukin act with other fish and my family?

The Ryukin has been described as having multiple personalities. However, don’t let this keep you from choosing the breed! The Ryukin Fancy Goldfish can be sweet, docile and loving. They can also be very social creatures that will enjoy their family’s attention. However, they have another side. Ryukins have been known to be semi-aggressive, and they show their competitive side during a feeding. In fact, they may even be able to hold their own against the Comet, the Common, and the Shubunkin. They are not known to be violent towards humans or other fish, they may, however, become a little pushy when it is time to be fed.

Potential goldfish health problems: What else should I know before I decide on this breed?

Goldfish can be messy fish that, if not properly cared for, could easily contract any one of the following diseases or illnesses.
Goldfish ICH or White Spot Disease
Swim Bladder Disease (loss of balance while swimming)
Bacterial, or fungal infections
Cloudy Eye
And many others.

It is your responsibility as a goldfish owner to keep them happy and healthy. They are not simply “starter pets” that you plan to flush away in a few months. These docile creature deserve our care, respect and owners who will appreciate their beauty.