The ranchu is similar to the lionhead but has a much more curved posterior dorsal contour, making an acute angle of join (less than 90 degrees) with the upper lobe of the tail fin at the caudal peduncle, whereas in the lionhead the dorsal contour is flatter and the angle of join is obtuse (more than 90 degrees); also, the ranchu tail is splayed sideways with the lower lobes sometimes lying almost horizontal, whereas the lionhead tail is like that of the pompon, celestial and bubble eye. Calico ranchus seem to be favoured over self-coloured fish, whereas more metallic (particularly red) lionheads are seen than calico. The ranchu was developed in China and imported and further developed in Japan.

Ranchu are also known in the Far East as buffalo-heads. Calico ranchu are known as edonishiki in Japan.


The ranchu standard (first published in 2011 and updated in 2016) is as follows:

The fish should be bright and alert. The body should be medium length with smooth contours and no sign of a dorsal fin. The caudal fin should be well divided, forked and held slightly above the horizontal. The hood should be well developed in all three areas i.e. cranial, infra-orbital, and opercular (see "Finnage and body plan" on our goldfish information page).

Metallic fish may be self-coloured (red, orange, yellow, blue, brown or black) or variegated (any combination of red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, black and white) in a pleasing pattern similar on each side. Quality fish will have high colour intensity and metallic shine extending into the fins.

Calico fish should have a blue background with patches of violet, red, orange, yellow, brown and white, spotted with black. Quality fish should have a high intensity of colour evenly distributed over the body, with colour, especially black, extending into the fins.

Ideal profiles are illustrated below:

ranchu standard, side view ranchu standard, top view



Adult fish

ranchu goldfish ranchu goldfish
ranchu goldfish ranchu goldfish

Red metallic ranchu shown at BAS 2011. The top fish has a very deep body contour.

Young adults

ranchu goldfish ranchu goldfish

Top views of two ranchu photographed at GSGB 2011. The hoods should develop further with maturity.

red-white variegated ranchu red-white variegated ranchu
red-white variegated ranchu red-white variegated ranchu

These fish were shown at BAS 2002; all three are red-white variegated, the fish on the right having a yellow head.

Mature adults

black ranchu red-white variegated ranchu

These fish were photographed in Hong Kong in December 2000 (left) and at BAS 2000 (right).

[Back]    [Top]
© Bristol Aquarists' Society