Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Monday, July 28, 2014


The young tosai now are 100 days old and 3 in (7.5 cm) long. I kept only six from my April, 2014 spawn of nearly 700 fry. Some of the keepers could be my potential breeders, but time will tell. For now, I enjoy watching them grow and change. Overall, I am pleased with the results of this spring's spawn and can only hope that the next year I will be lucky to get another step closer to creating my own line of top view ranchu. Years of work ahead!

Komado and Sarasa-aka (Little Window and Red Mottled with White) pattern

Tonchou (Japanese Crane) pattern

Ka-gashira and Azuki (Yellow head and Adzuki Red Beans) pattern

Ka-gashira and Shiro (Yellow Head and White Body) pattern

Ichimonji-aka and Azuki (Straight Red Line and Adzuki Red Beans) pattern

Hara-shiro (White Belly) pattern

Friday, July 25, 2014


Over a couple of days I have noticed unusual behavior in one of my young tosai. The fish was not swimming much, taking longer rests on the bottom of the pond. I observe it for a few days, but could't find an answer, when I finally realized that it had something to do with water pH.

After checking pH, I was astounded to find that it had dropped to 6.6 - 6.8 from its usual 8.0 - 8.3. This is what I was so afraid of for some time, reading the stories how everyone will go through one of these pH drops and loose all the fish.

It has been a lot of work since the April spawn, as I have being occupied with rasing the young. I lowered my guards and wasn't taking pH readings often enough, thinking that the water quality was always good, since I use bio filter and perform weekly 90% water changes.

With the addition of the spawn, the bio-load had increased and I neglected cleaning the filter from all the gunk for too long. As a result, I had my first bio-filter "malfunction" followed by a pH drop.

I spent today cleaning the filter and doing 100% water change. After the cleanup the pH went up to 7.7 - 7.8. I will be checking it regular and hope it will stabilize fast. The buffering capacity of my municipal water is good.

The lesson is learned - don't get distracted!


Continuing my ongoing trial and error experience with the pond, I thought, why not watercress? I am still looking for more ways to lower nitrates, besides 100% water changes.

Right now, the pandanus plants (Pandanus amarillifolius) that I have been growing in the ranchu pond are flourishing. I bought two kinds -  tissue cultured small plants eight months ago (see my post "Pandanus Plant") and an adult pandanus 1.5 foot (45 cm) tall, that I divided on three pieces. New roots are developing well and judging by the new growth and color, the plants are getting enough nutrients.

Pandanus plants growing in my ranchu pond

The water is drained to show pandanus root system

To extend my nitrate "elimination", I am now trying out watercress (Nasturtium officinale). This plant is aquatic or semi-aquatic, naturally found in and around freshwater streams. I thought that watercress would be a perfect candidate to grow in my ranchu pond. Being a popular leaf vegetable in my kitchen, I am also looking forward to consuming it.

I started off by germinating watercress seeds in finally cut paper towel. Keeping the substrate very wet was the key. Why cut paper towels? I try to avoid introducing pathogens and any other unwanted elements into my ranchu pond. Any plant's root system that had been grown previously in the soil, I sterilize with bleach. Cut paper towels offer a clean substrate.

After the seedlings developed 2-4 true leaves and a root system, they had been transplanted on pieces of Matala filter media, which I have been using in my bio filter. Matala mats seem to be a perfect medium for using in my improvised hydroponic culture. I hooked strips of Matala to the edge of the pond with hooks made of galvanized wire, so the strips are halfway in the water, allowing only the root system to be submerged. 

Fifteen days later, my watercress plants are growing well. With little time, their root system will come through the Matala mats using up the nitrates and growing succulent leaves for my kitchen. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014


A beautiful pattern is called azuki or adzuki beans and points to isolated red scales scattered on a white body. Being a part of sarasa group, azuki pattern can make ranchu look very special. As the color "matures" and maintained with a proper grooming, the contrast between red specks on white can produce most amazing patterns in ranchu.

Azuki CBR bred by High Ranchu

Azuki CBR bred by High Ranchu

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Komado or "small window" name points to a small whitish rectangle on the top of the red ranchu head. Interestingly enough, if this pattern is reversed, presenting white head with a red rectangle, it would be called tanchou pattern, named after Japanese crane.

Komado CBR bred by High Ranchu

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Besides solid red or solid white ranchu, there is a large group called sarasa or mottled. Various red and white color combinations are found among this group. Depending on the amounts of either color, sarasa ranchu are called red sarasa, where predominantly red is mottled with white and white sarasa, where predominantly white is mottled with red.

Unpredictability of color patterns gives each sarasa ranchu its uniqueness and character. This is where our individual likes take over and make the selection more difficult. There is no rule or requirement on what the pattern should be, as long as it complements the fish.

White Sarasa  CBR bred by High Ranchu

White Sarasa CBR bred by High Ranchu

Red Sarasa CBR bred by High Ranchu

Red Sarasa CBR bred by High Ranchu

Monday, July 7, 2014


Solid red or red-orange is the "official" ranchu color. The brighter and deeper the color, the more beautiful the ranchu gets. Solid red is one of my favorite. In my opinion, deep red color makes ranchu's shape and form better appreciated, without any obstruction by the color pattern. Japanese character used to describe red ranchu is 猩々 and means orangutan, solid color.

Pictured below CBR have just completed transitioning from black to red. Melanophore, a black pigment, was replaced with carotinoid pigment, producing red and orange color. At first baby ranchu appears yellow, further developing deeper orange and red. With a proper grooming these baby ranchu will reach that desired red fairly soon.

CBR bred by High Ranchu

CBR bred by High Ranchu

Development of deep red color in ranchu can be affected in a few ways. One is the sun. The ranchu that receives several hours of sunlight will develop a desirable color depth. If sunlight is unavailable, artificial lighting with a daylight spectrum will be a good substitute. Also, the darker the walls and the bottom of the tank the better the color will show. Goldfish can lighten or darken its color depending on the surrounding. This ability to camouflage comes from their wild ancestors, although have lost its survival function in goldfish, it effects decorative quality.

Food is another important component for producing rich color. Literally - "ranchu is what ranchu eat". Foods reach in carotenoids, a group of organic pigments, where astaxanthin (red) and lutein (yellow) are major contributors to ranchu color. There are a number of pellet foods with these pigments added. One is Saki Hikari brand (purple and red packaging) with its color enhancing diets. Also, introducing spinach, pumpkin, duckweeds and algae in the ranchu diet will assure their bright color.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


As my BBR have transitioned into CBR, their color patterns are becoming important in overall appreciation. The color itself is slowly developing from yellows and pale orange to brighter tones and reds. I am lucky to have the pond in a location where it receives a good amount of morning and late afternoon sun. That, combined with feeding them Wolffia and Saki Hikari Red promotes deeper reds and oranges.

As ranchu colors become more pronounced, I will be posting a series of articles illustrating their patters. After all, selecting ranchu based on a set of very strict standards until now was done in "black and white" (BBR). Our individual preferences of colors and patterns are now added to an already complicated selection process. It makes that "perfect" ranchu, we all are looking for, even more elusive. It is the time to start compromising between some physical imperfections (only few left however after several culls) and likable color patterns, already noticeable personalities and swimming tendencies of the young ranchu. 

In the spawn, I got quite a few sarasaaka (red motled with white) and sarasashiro (white mottled with red) patterns, but only one individual with a completely white body and yellow head ( kiatama), a nice contrast to the rest dominating red colored ranchu. As a reassurance of this prized color combination, two white bodied ranchu with yellow heads won first and second prizes in oya category at the 53rd All Japan Ranchu Show in 2013.

I hope with little time, the orange-red markings on the pectoral fins and tail of the below pictured ranchu will intensify for a stunning contrast against its pearl-white body and yellow head, creating this unique pattern.

CBR bred by High Ranchu, 75 days old

Another ranchu from the spawn carries white body, or almost white, with only tiny orange mark right before its yellow head. The fins turned out the most beautiful, colored in orange with even markings on the tail.

CBR bred by High ranchu