Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Saturday, December 21, 2013


Years ago, when I kept a few varieties of goldfish other than ranchu, I ended up using Hikari Oranda Gold, Hikari Lionhead and Hikari Goldfish Wheat Germ pellets. Hikari brand manufactured by Japanese company Kyorin Co., Ltd. and available in most pet and aquarium stores and online in the USA.

Although, well suitable for ranchu, I no longer use two of the above mentioned diets. Hikari Oranda Gold and Hikari Goldfish Wheat Germ are floating pellets that I now stopped using after switching to sinking pellets. In addition, Hikari Oranda Gold has a tendency to promote swim bladder disease in goldfish, which I have witnessed several times.

In resent years the same company developed Saki-Hikari advanced diets, a "high tech" goldfish sinking pellets with probiotics, nicknamed as Saki-Green, Saki-Purple and Saki-Red. The added beneficial bacteria suppose to accelerate digestion and promote healthy digestive tract. At the moment, Saki-Purple is available in the USA while the other two can be bought from overseas suppliers in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore.


Saki-Hikari Fancy Goldfish Color Enhancing (Saki-Purple) includes astaxanthin and spirulina as color enhancements (see ingredients below). Saki-Hikari Fancy Goldfish Extreme Color Enhancing (Saki-Red) contains pigment rich spirulina as a second ingredient along with marigold flower extract, astaxanthin and phaffia dried yeast (see ingredients below). I have been using Saki-Purple and can attest to a noticeable change in fish color brightness, even without presence of sunlight. I also purchased Saki-Red and intend to start using it in the spring, as it is most effective when the water temperature stays above 64 F (18°C). I will be using both Saki-Purple and Saki-Red as a supplement to a staple diet.

For ranchu staple diet I had to choose between Japan Ranchu Lord type D mini pellets (click here to buy), Saki-Hikari Fancy Goldfish Balance (Saki-Green) and Omega One Goldfish Pellets (made in USA). Based on reviews, ingredients and nutritional analyses I gave my preference to Japan Ranchu Lord (JRL).


JRL pellets are made with large amount of seaweed rich in vitamins and minerals, and contain EPA and DHA essential fatty acids. Unlike other brands, JRL does not include hard to digest wheat flour, fillers or binders (see ingredients below). The only drawback - it is the most expansive of all three mentioned staple diets. Omega one, on the other hand, is the most economical choice with less wheat products compared to Saki-Green. Nutritional analysis and ingredients for JRL, Hikari and Omega One brand pellets:

JRL -  crude protein - min 48.1%, crude fat - min 8.4%, crude fiber - max 4.4%, crude ash - max 14.1% 
Ingredients: whole fish-meal, squid, seaweed, soy, krill, yeast, vitamins, minerals

Saki-Green -  crude protein - min 45%, crude fat - min 5%, crude fiber - max 3%, crude ash - max 20%   
Ingredients: fish meal, wheat germ, flour, beer yeast, starch, gluten meal, soybean meal, fish oil, vegetable oil, seaweed powder, probiotics, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals 

Hikari Lionhead -  crude protein - 
min 46%, crude fat - min 6%, crude fiber - max 5%, crude ash - max 12%  
Ingredients: fish meal, wheat flour, soybean meal, krill meal, brewers dried yeast, fish oil, vegetable oil, seaweed meal, spirulina, DL-methionine, astaxanthin, rice bran, vitamins, minerals

Saki-Purple -  crude protein - 
min 45%, crude fat - min 7%, crude fiber - max 3%, crude ash - max 20% 
Ingredients: fish meal, wheat germ meal, soybean meal, wheat flour, brewers dried yeast, starch, dried bakery product, gluten meal, fish oil, spirulina, vegetable oil, rice bran, seaweed meal, astaxanthin, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, vitamins, minerals

Saki-Red -  crude protein - min 46%, crude fat - min 7%, crude fiber - max 2%, crude ash - max 19% 
Ingredients: fish meal, spirulina, wheat flour, wheat germ meal, soybean meal, brewers dried yeast, dried bakery product, gluten meal, fish oil, phaffia dried yeast, extracted marigold flower meal, vegetable oil, astaxanthin, rice bran, seaweed meal, probiotics, vitamins, minerals

Omega One  -  crude protein - 
min 33%, crude fat - min 8%, crude fiber - max 2%, crude ash - max 8%  
Ingredients: whole salmon, whole herring, whole shrimp, wheat flour, wheat gluten, fresh kelp, soy flour, astaxanthin, vitamins, minerals

As it is true with all pellets, you have to be carful with amount fed to the fish. Pellets are highly nutritious and overfeeding leads to obesity. Also, it is important to remember that dry pellets have longer digestion time of up to 2 hrs or more. It is necessary to alternate pellets with easily digestible foods like frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp and plant foods including algae.

My preference for frozen food is Hikari brand, especially for bloodworms. If not sterilized, bloodworms can become a source of pathogenic bacteria causing verity of infections in ranchu. Kyorin Co. uses 3-step sterilization process to produce free of bacteria and parasites frozen foods.


Based on time of the year, I alternate between easily digestible food and pellets. When the water temperature drops between 55-64 F (13-18°C), I feed 2 to 4 times a day with mostly brine shrimp and bloodworms. When the temperatures stabilizes above 65 F (18°C), I feed 5 times a day, where pellets are given more often. I keep at least 2 - 2.5 hour interval between the feedings.

Since ranchu are prone to obesity the amount of food is very important. I have adopted a "five minute rule", when I give as much food as the fish collectively will eat in 5 minutes. Food amount and feeding frequency gets periodically adjusted depending on the ranchu overall appearance.

There are much more food choices out there, including gel food and of course "do it yourself". But for now, I think I have enough diverse diet to offer. With balancing of what I currently feed, my ranchu already showing good results. The growth rate is normal for their age and the wen (head-growth) continues to develop well. To summarize, here is what I feed to my ranchu:

 dry pellets - Japan Ranchu Lord type D, Saki-Purple and Saki-Red, Hikari Lionhead

 frozen food - Hikari brine shrimp and bloodworms 

 plant food - shelled green peas, pumpkin, spinach, algae

One more thing. I am working on cultivating Wolffia, a floating plant that belongs to duckweeds. Why? Read about it in my future post.

Happy & Safe Holidays!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Almost a month later since I have posted "Sticking to the Rules" the bottom and walls of the pond are covered with green and brown (diatoms) algae and cyanobacteria. Provided enough light the "bio film" grows fast colonizing every surface under water. Understandably, due to negative impact on aquarium's ornamental look algae are considered a nuisance by aquarium hobbyists. At the same time, it is a great food supplement for aquarium inhabitants and definitely ranchu, as well as it takes part in nitrogen cycle.

Ranchu grazing on algae

There is a step further into cultivating algae. The method is called "green water". "Green water" contains a suspension of phytoplankton composed of photosynthesizing algae and bacteria and is achieved by providing enough bright light and nutrition for the algae to grow. The water turns green to brownish and becomes translucent. Ranchu that kept in "green water" feed constantly on suspended phytoplankton. Japanese breeders often say: "ranchu is made with green water". Best shape and health of ranchu can be achieved with this method.

However, raising ranchu in clear water with substantial algae growth, as I do currently, is as beneficial as "green water" method. The fish is free to graze on algae between the main meals. Algae and cyanobacteria are a great source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and pigments. In addition, it has positive pro-kinetic effect on digestive tract of ranchu.

With a very plain look of my pond and no substrate or plants, algae and cyanobacteria create an attractive natural looking background for the bright red ranchu!

Monday, December 9, 2013


Hobby of keeping ranchu isn't something you can attend to when you want to. It becomes an occupation. Keeping any animal requires a commitment, but keeping fish takes it to a different level. Humans and fish live in two different states of matter, gas and liquid. Unlike many other "pet" animals that share gas environment with us, fish must be in its own "liquid habitat". Creating that habitat and understanding how it effects the fish is a challenge that makes this hobby unique and exciting.

So, I am excited and wanted to recognize the beginning of my hobby with my own emblem, or a MON (). I used the best tool I know - Photoshop, to create the mon by using only circles and half circles. This allowed me to stylize a top view ranchu with minimal lines, yet displaying most of the attributes of a priced fish.

Ranchu mon by Alexander Vasiljev

I also made my first attempt to write RANCHU in hiragana characters らんちゅう. Shodou or Japanese calligraphy, or any calligraphy for that matter, is an amazing art form. I consider shodou to be one of the most complex art forms that mind and hand can produce together. The brush stroke can not be redone and calligrapher gets only one chance for a particular piece of paper to write a statement. That writing will reflect the calligrapher in that very moment in time. Below is my humble attempt to write the name reflecting on bold and graceful movement of a swimming ranchu.