Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The most important secret in goldfish keeping is CONSISTENCY. Ranchu, as most goldfish, are strong and adaptable to a variety of water chemistry and temperatures. However, it is often a mistake to chose one set of "ideal" parameters, as recommended in common literature and try to change exciting water chemistry to those standards. For example, shifting pH and what is even more difficult keeping it at a certain level. Obviously, complete understanding of water chemistry is necessary - pH, hardness, buffering capacity, nitrate cycle, etc. But more important here is to recognize the acceptable range of parameters present in the current water and keep them stable within the range. This will provide needed consistency.

In my case, the tap water is well buffered but more alkaline, with pH ranging between 8.1 and 8.2. The ranchu adapted to this pH and will be doing fine, as long as I will maintain consistency. At this higher pH level, however, ammonia becomes more toxic and even small traces of it can be stressful on fish. So, my attention was given to building a sufficient bio-filter, that has been doing a great job so far in keeping the ammonia and nitrite levels at their lowest. Weekly 90% water changes further reduce nitrates and thus my water parameters are kept stable.

I acquired a couple of new gadgets to help me to monitor the water. One is a digital pH meter, that instantly reads pH and gives me an idea about the overall stability. Another gadget is a digital infrared thermometer that I use during the water changes and to help me to decide on the amount and frequency of food while temperatures fluctuate. It is instant accurate and very convenient. One thing to remember with infrared thermometers however, is that they ONLY read temperature of the surface. I usually take readings of the surface that is agitated by the air bubbles.

EcoTestr pH2 by Oakton
Fluke 62 MAX+ IR Thermometer

Monday, February 10, 2014


It has been five month since I had my ranchus and I feel now a bit more confident in keeping them. This year's winter in Washington DC has been quite cold and the water temperature in my indoor pond is staying in upper 50th - lower 60th F (13-17C). On the coldest days the fish is less active and I feed them less accordingly. Despite slower time of the year my ranchus have grown and their head growth got fuller.

I acquired five ranchus - Matsuyama bloodline outcrossed by Robert Crosby with Oishi x Matsuyama cross (earlier produced by Gary Hater). So technically the fish I have are ¾ Matsuyama and ¼ Oishi. Both Matsuyama bloodline created under Mr. Ishikawa and Mr. Yasusaru Oishi's ranchu bloodlines were introduced to USA from Japan by Steven Carney of Neo Ranchu USA, around 2004-2006.

Each ranchu bloodline corresponds to breeder's personal selection, preferences and new trends. Head growth and body shape, color pattern, etc. all vary between different bloodlines, giving them a set of specific characteristics. Matsuyama bloodline inherits classic TVR body shape, where back outline is long and reminiscent of a Japanese comb. Their scales tend to be small and neatly placed, creating seamless and beautiful body cover.

Classic Long Japanese Boxwood Comb

Matsuyama ranchu do not develop large head growth during their tosai age. However it appears to be a good thing, as developing slowly the head growth has a higher chance to be more proportionate and balanced with the rest of the body as the fish matures. A little mix of Oishi bloodline could add a stronger head growth and peduncle. The balance in ranchu appearance is one of the most important characteristics of this goldfish.

My ranches are close to 10 month old now and I have been observing their head growth development for over five month. It slowly takes shape, but still needs more time to develop. I have been using foods that help to boost the head growth - bloodworms and chicken eggs. (One thing with eggs - they can be messy and can easily spoil the water. So, I feed it once a week in a separate container where my fish waits during the water change.)

All I need now are warmer days, the time when ranchu will start developing faster, reaching their sexual maturity.