Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Tuesday, April 29, 2014


For my first spawn I used widely suggested acrylic yarn mops as a spawning media (see my earlier post "The Eggs"). Acrylic yarn is cheap and the mops are easy to make. They do catch a lot of eggs. However, besides these pros, I found some cons. Being in the water, the yarn gets entangled and the ranchu were getting caught in it. Second, after the eggs hatched, the larvae still was hiding inside the yarn mops. It makes it very hard to remove the mops without loosing some ranchu larvae. Gently shaking the larvae from the mops didn't help completely. Lastly, I found that removing stuck in the yarn dead eggs and other debris is not easy and it is a hassle to keep the mops clean and ready for the next spawn.

I quickly started to look for an alternative. Another often used DIY spawning media are plastic Poly Shakers and Green Pom-Poms, being a more expensive alternative to yarn. Still, I kept searching and exploring other possibilities.

Again, I though about artificial aquarium plants. Previously purchased plants were not quite suitable for spawning, being stiffer than I though and having many leaves, that would be hard to clean. I needed something very durable for multiple use, something easily cleanable, and something very soft and not abrasive to the fish. That something appeared to be "Hairgrass" from Aquatic-Flora, manufactured by Deep Blue Professional. It answered all my requirements. These artificial plants are made of soft and firm, non-toxic silicone-like plastic. Having a slightly higher cost than Poly Shakers, I hope it will pay back on a long run. And it looks very natural indeed.

I bought six "Hairgrass" plants 9 inch (23 cm) long (they also come in 6, 11 and 18 inch length). After dismantling them, I ended up with 12 individual rosettes. Using glass bead with a string through, I inserted the bead inside the rosette and threaded the string out through the rosette. I can bundle these mops in any way I need and with weights attached to them, they can be placed on the bottom of the pond or be suspended from the surface.

As I run this media through a spawn or two, I will post an update.

"Hairgrass" turned spawning media

Glass bead inserted inside the rosette 

Monday, April 28, 2014


Today is fourteenth day since the eggs were fertilized or eleventh day since they hatched. Ranchu features are starting to be very noticeable. Back and tail peduncle curvature is forming. A few more days until the tail will be more open, showing desired traits.

Ranchu fry side view

Ranchu fry top view

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Ranchu are eating, swimming, growing. Their little ranchu tails are starting to shape.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Little ranchu are starting to look like a fish. Notice how the tail is forming into its ranchu shape. Brine shrimp still looks pretty large as a single bite. The ranchu must be pretty ferocious to tear apart and eat that shrimp.

The swimming bladder in the middle of the body helps the fry with buoyancy

Monday, April 21, 2014


I have been running brine shrimp culture for a couple of days now, starting a new batch every morning. I feed the fry a couple of times a day and since the baby brine shrimp is a live culture, the fry can eat all they want and can, and the food is always there. Brine shrimp will stay alive in fresh water for up to five hours.

Baby brine shrimp nutritional analysis (according to San Francisco Bay Brand, Inc.) - crude protein - min 55%, crude fat - min 18.3%, crude fiber - max 19%, beta carotene (hence the orange color), lipids, essential unsaturated fatty acids.

In addition, I started to add some algae from the walls of the main pond. The suspension of live brine shrimp, green algae and diatoms should give enough nutrition for rapidly developing ranchu.

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina): left - immature stage (nauplii), right - 24 hr old
Photo from Virginia Cooperative Extension website   

Ranchu fry bellies filled with orange brine shrimp nauplii

Not so pretty algae film on the pond's wall, but oh so tasty!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Some of the ranchu fry are starting to swim and are buoyant on their 6th day and this means they are hungry and are looking for food. For at last a month they will be eating daily hatched brine shrimp as their main diet. I will be also giving the fry some algae scraped from the main pond walls. At this time, their growth rate is enormous, as well as their appetite. More and more fry become free swimming and spending less time attached to the bottom and the sides of the tub.

The nursery tub equipped with the heater, air stone and adjusted water flow

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Tomorrow the fry will begin swimming around and I will be transferring them to a nursery. Due to my unique situation, having the pond in my apartment and no available space for any other water bearing container, I had to think hard and out of the box to come up with my set up. The basic idea is to keep the nursery tub suspended on two bamboo sticks above the main pond. The water will gently flow through the nursery tub into the pond.

I placed a small pump inside the UV chamber of the filter box (see my previous post on Filter Box Addition and Improvements) to divert some sterilized and ammonia/nitrite free water from the main pond into the nursery tub. I used 12 Qt (11.4 L) household tub, in which I cut out a slit for water overflow. This way the water depth will be constant at 4.5 in (11 cm). I covered the front of the slit with fine nylon mesh, glued to the walls with a 100% GE Clear Silicone I caulk and placed a filter sponge passed that to fill the slit.

Nursery tub suspended on two bamboo sticks above the main pond

Water hose delivers water from the UV chamber of the outside filter box

Water flow was further minimized with a drinking straw

Filter sponge is placed in the overflow slit to prevent any fry from escaping 

I payed attention to the strength of the water flow inside the nursery tub. The ranchu fry are not the best swimmers yet and can not fight any water current. So, in addition to lowering the pump's flow rate to a minimum of less than 30 gal/hr (114 L/hr), I inserted a drinking straw inside the ½ inch (1.3 cm) water hose to further reduce the flow to about 4 gal/hr (15 L/hr) or less. By lifting the straw up or down, I can control the flow. As the fry will be transferred into the nursery tomorrow, I will be watching closely the effects of this set up on their development. As always - observe, learn and improve.

If it all works, a huge benefit will be to not have to change water directly in the nursery tub, which disturbs fragile fry. Although, since I circulate the same water in the nursery tub and the main pond, my weekly 90% water changes in the main pond will be done regularly. Another positive outcome of this set up is a constant flow of clean and ammonia/nitrite free water that has just passed through bio-filter and UV chamber of the filter box.

I am certain, I will be making more modification to this set up as I learn more from little ranchu fry. 

Friday, April 18, 2014


These first stages are very important and equally fascinating. The hatching has begun. The newly hatched ranchu larva is only 4-4.5 mm in length and is not able to swim freely. It latches to any surface and moves only occasionally, by making short bursts. Organs are developing. At this stage the larva feeds off of its own yolk sac. But in a day or so, the yolk supply will deplete, as the larvae will start swimming, actively looking for food. That is when I will supply baby brine shrimp daily.

Newly hatched ranchu larvae

Ranchu larva with prominent yolk sac

A lot more eggs are hetching

I found this interesting and very descriptive article on "The Embryo and Larval Development of The Goldfish (Carassius Auratus L.) From Lake Erie". Click on the article to read.

Illustration from the article

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Truly amazing time to be witnessing once life passing through the stages on the way to its set ultimate design. Especially exciting are randomly seen early stages of this journey. The ranchu embryos are already starting to move inside the egg shell. Three day ago there were just female and male single cells!!!

Two eggs on their 3rd incubation day. Fish embryos are clearly visible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I have been preparing for baby ranchu coming. Whether I am successful or not to hatch them this time, I have prepared some special foods for their first stages of development, in addition to frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp, and pellets that I already have for when the baby ranchu grow up a little.

From Brine Shrimp Direct I got San Francisco Strain Brine Shrimp Eggs for a smaller sized nauplii (crustacean larvae). Yes, I am going to hatch live brine shrimp to feed ranchu fry. The seller have included a sample of BSD Freshwater Slow Sinking Pellet, 0.6 mm (protein min 50%, lipids min 8%, fiber max 4%, ash max 12%, astaxanthin 80ppm, moisture max 8%), which I will try at a later time, while getting ranchu used to a pellet food.

From Kens Fish I ordered Ken's Premium Golden Pearls, 5-50 microns (protein min 60%, lipids min 8%, ash max 15%, vitamins: C 200 ppm, E 400 ppm, astaxanthin 500 ppm, moisture (max) 8%). Rob Crosby (Virginia Ranchu on GoldFish Keepers website) recommended them as an occasional substitute, when brine shrimp hatching are delayed.

I have also been cultivating Wolffia, as a very nutritious supplement for ranchu fry. Read about it in my previous post "Wolffia - Super Plant, Super Food"

1 - San Francisco Strain Brine Shrimp Eggs; 2 - BSD Freshwater Slow Sinking Pellet; 3 - Ken's Premium Golden Pearls


The ranchu now calmed down and I put them back into the main pond. The mops with eggs were transferred into a smaller container, where they are now incubating. A lot of eggs are unfertilized, but fertilized are also present in a good number. I added a couple of drops of Methylene Blue to prevent the fungus outbreak and a couple of airstones to keep constant supply of oxygen. The water temperature is at 72 F (22 C) and if everything goes fine the fish will hatch in 4 to 4 1/2 days.

Fertilized transparent eggs 

Fertilized transparent eggs

Unfertilized white opaque eggs

Spawning mops with eggs incubating


The stars were alined right: the full moon, the fresh water, the rain and barometric pressure drop. It is a very first spawn for my young ranchus and it is a first spawn for me. Although, I do not expect the greatest results this time, the practice is what I am looking for, considering that eggs got fertilized. If not, there is always the next full moon or the next 10-15 days, when they are ready again.

What is exciting, is watching their breeding behavior and hoping that one day I will raise my own "perfect" ranchu. A lot more spawns ahead!

The spawning mops are made from acrylic yarn. I decided to use them instead of artificial plants. Although, artificial plants could have worked as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Today, finally, the water temperature has reached over 70 F (21 C). The cherry trees outside are in full bloom. Spring is finally here! The ranchu are actively eating and swimming. Sun rays light up the pond, where ranchu gather, shining like golden jewelry.

Some of my ranchu photos taken today.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


After a few days of chasing, the two new males have stopped in their pursuit and are just enjoying being a part of the school. No spawning has happened ...YET!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


My new arrivals appear to be both males, with defined tubercles on the front edge of their pectoral fins.

This time, I didn't follow the full quarantine procedure and only kept my two newcomers separate in a holding tank for a few days to acclimate. Trusting Jeff's (Ranchu Notes) good professional ethics and disclosed "medical history", I made a risky decision to introduce them into my main pond without the wait, but not without the risk, which I chose to take. Obviously, I would not recommend the reader doing so, especially if the fish come from unfamiliar or untrusted sources.

The two boys didn't waste any time after joining the rest and started to chase the girls. I got some artificial aquarium plants for them to spawn on. Being much smaller than the rest of my ranchu and not even a year old, it is hard to believe that they have what it takes. However, they won't give up chasing and I am eager to see what will come out of it.