Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The art of creating and keeping Japanese top view ranchu has come a long way, setting strict standards. Because these standards have been closely followed and refined for over a century, TVR have reached the level of perfection we find today, and at the same time has burdened the breeders and keepers with extreme difficulty to produce quality fish.

Through reading and asking questions, I have found that there are a few variations in ranchu head, body and tail shapes equally accepted according to Japanese standard. In a sense it was a relief for me, as adhering to only one standard would be very difficult due to a great level of deviation in ranchu offsprings.

The shape of the head growth or wen is mainly divided on two types shishigashira and tatsugashira.
Shishigashira or lion head is square or rounded in shape. Tatsugashira or dragon head is rectangular with developed funtan or protruding cheeks. Tatsugashira is more popular nowadays, nonetheless, shishigashira type can be very beautiful. There is also a third type, transitional between the two mentioned above types. The main objective here is to have size and shape of the head in balance with the rest of the body. It is not desirable to have head growth as developed in tosai, as it is found in nisai and oya ranchu.

Shishigashira head
original art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2014

Tatsugashira head
original art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2014

The body length is accepted as short, medium and long. Longer body would be my choice, it balances best the head, especially in nisai and oya fish, when the head growth develops more. The body shape and especially back curve must be reminiscent of traditional Japanese boxwood comb, that can be short or long.

Long boxwood comb

Short boxwood comb

The tail, which we scrutinize at the early stages of ranchu development, continues to be in the center of attention throughout the fish life. Unlike head or color pattern, tail doesn't just presents with ornamental value, it plays critical role in how the ranchu swims. That is why over the century certain tail traits were identified to produce good swimmers. All in all, there are three tail types accepted: yotsuo or ⅔ split in the middle of the tail, sakurao or a small split at the tip of the tail and mitsuo or no split.

Yotsuo tail
original art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2014

Sakurao tail
original art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2014

Sakurao tail is reminiscent of cherry blossom petals

Mitsuo tail
original art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2014

Ranchu personality and ability to swim in elegant and powerful manner can overpower certain imperfections of its shape, turning the fish into a praised possession.