Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I came across some interesting information and thought it would be suitable to share on Halloween. Many of us have see our goldfish eating their excrement. As appalling as it sounds or looks, it has its explanation and purpose.

Goldfish have no true stomachs, instead part of their gastrointestinal tract has a slight widening. The food doesn't held long enough for the nutrients to become complete absorbed, unlike in animals with true stomachs like us. Therefore goldfish poop still has some nutrients left. I have read that it could take up to three times for the food/excrement to pass through goldfish' gut to be fully digested. Also, sharing their poop with each other helps them to share their beneficial bacteria. Obviously, parasites, bad bacteria and viruses use this as well, but that is entirely different subject.

Original artwork by A.Vasiljev © 2014

This is not an uncommon phenomenon in nature. For example, female koala feeds their newborn with her own excrement containing a cocktail of beneficial bacteria, to prepare their babies to digest toxic eucalyptus leaves.

Happy Halloween everybody!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


It has been almost a year since I posted "Notes on Food". During this time, a couple of new brands of ranchu food have became available and I have gained a better understanding of goldfish nutrition and requirements, so it is time to reevaluate.

I have been experimenting with several brands and diets and glad to have found one that yields good results and fits my requirements. But first, let's talk about what is good on the market today and most of all what these foods are made of. Here, I will be focusing specifically on dry pellets as my chosen staple food for ranchu (read "Ranchu Food: Soft Vs. Hard Vs. Flaky").

There is an abundance of goldfish food available in the U.S., of which I chose only a few, based on their popularity among goldfish (ranchu) keepers and breeders and my own experience. These brands include well known Hikari and Saki-Hikari by Kyorin, Co; Omega One by OmegaSea, LLC and less known in the U.S. Ranchu Kizoku Sinking Pellets, Hatori Ranchu Food and a new "face" on the market since May, 2012, Azayaka Ranchu Sinking Pellets by Mishiro. More variety is great, but it also means more difficult to choose. In fact, selecting the right dry pellet brand for ranchu was as time consuming for me as choosing a cereal for my breakfast. It takes time reading labels on boxes with cereal, comparing sugar content, along with fiber, etc, and then looking at the list of ingredients for its simplicity and value. I do the same for my ranchu.

Fish, squid, shrimp and krill are the sources of marine animal proteins and are the prime ingredients that I am looking for in ranchu food. At the same time, I do not always look for food with the highest protein content. Here is why: goldfish, much like any other organism require high calorie intake when they are young and active and less when they are older. In addition, since goldfish are ectothermic (cold blooded), their digestion and absorption of nutrients are directly linked with water temperature. Lower water temperature - less activity. Also, one must be aware that food high in protein results in more ammonia being secreated by the fish as byproduct and may affect the water quality.

Ranchu fry and BBR must be given food with highest amounts of marine animal proteins, of up to 50-70%; CBR, tosai and nisai ranchu also require food with high level of these proteins, of up to 50%. But when ranchu transition to an oya age, they must be given food with lower protein content of only 30-40%. In addition, when the water temperature drops below 64 F (18 C) all my ranchu regardless of their age, do get pellets that are lower on proteins and fats, making sure that these proteins are from marine animals and are easily assimilated.

I keep reiterating "marine animal proteins" derived from fish, squid, shrimp and krill as oppose to hard to digest by goldfish "land animal proteins" from chicken or beef, or "plant proteins" from soy, corn, rice, barley or wheat. Proteins are not equal. Marine animals like fish and squid are the best sources of essential and most digestible by goldfish proteins.

Fat is another important component in goldfish diet. Dietary fats or lipids are a major source of energy and essential fatty acids are necessary for a number of biological processes. But again, the amount of fats given to the fish must depend on their age, activity levels and the water temperature.

Plant ingredients and cereals apart from proteins contain carbohydrates, a necessary energy source for goldfish, although carbohydrates have to be present in moderation. In fact, excess of carbohydrates and sugars in particular, could cause internal organs damage and failure. There is also fiber as part of the carbohydrates, that provides roughage. Too much fiber will move the gut content faster, preventing normal absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, digesting complex carbohydrates like starches requires bacteria that lives in the goldfish gut. Some bacteria will release gases during the process, which could affect buoyancy or even aid in developing a swim bladder decease (SBD). Floating excrement with gas bubbles trapped inside is likely indication of digestion problems. That is why, I am very careful when looking at the amounts of wheat, rice or soy products in the dry pellet formula, and I definitely do not want to see grains as the primary source of proteins, as these proteins are less suitable for goldfish.

Considering the above, let's look at some choices. Below are descriptions and nutritional information that I could find on the products that I think worth comparing. They are rated (★★★★★) according to their ingredient composition and based on my own experience. I also rated ($$$$) these foods on how expensive they are if purchased in the U.S.



Four different formulas and several pellet sizes, sinking. Product of Japan. 
$$$$ Juvenile formula for fry. Ingredientskrill meal, whole fish meal, squid meal, starch, krill extract, squid liver oil, yeast, soybean lecithin, calcium phosphate, paracoccus beneficial bacteria, vitamins, minerals. Analysiscrude protein min 52%, crude fat min 8%, crude fiber max 4%, crude ash max 19%
$$$ Growth formula for young fish. Ingredientswhole fish meal, krill meal, shrimp meal, squid meal, starch, flour, soybean oil, yeast, fish oil, shell fossil powder, calcium phosphate, seaweed, paracoccus beneficial bacteria, garlic powder, turmeric powder, vitamins, minerals. Analysiscrude protein min 51%, crude fat min 8%, crude fiber max 5%, crude ash max 17%
$$$ Balance formula for adult and breeding fish. Ingredients: whole fish meal, krill meal, wheat germ, beer yeast, soybean oil, flour, alfalfa meal, garlic powder, fish collagen, calcium phosphate, seaweed, chitin-chitosan, plant polysaccharide, vitamins, minerals. Analysiscrude protein min 38%, crude fat min 4%, crude fiber max 5%, crude ash max 13%
$$$ Color enchanting formula. Ingredientswhole fish meal, spirulina, krill meal, wheat germ, beer yeast, soybean oil, flour, alfalfa meal, garlic powder, fish collagen, calcium phosphate, seaweed, chitin-chitosan, plant polysaccharide, vitamins, minerals. Analysiscrude protein min 40%, crude fat min 4%, crude fiber max 4%, crude ash max 13%


★★★★ RANCHU KIZOKU D SINKING PELLETS (a.k.a. Japan Ranchu Lord Type D Pellets)

$$$ One pellet size, sinking. Product of Japan. Ingredients: whole fish meal, squid, seaweed, soy, krill, yeast, vitamins and minerals, EPA and DHA essential fatty acids. Analysis: crude protein - min 48.1%, crude fat - min 8.4%, crude fiber - max 4.4%, crude ash - max 14.1%



$$ Three different pellet sizes, sinking. Product of the USA. Ingredients: whole salmon, whole herring, whole shrimp, wheat flour, wheat gluten, fresh kelp, lecithin, astaxanthin, vitamins, natural and artificial colors, preservatives. Analysiscrude protein - min 33%, crude fat - min 8%, crude fiber - max 2%, crude ash - max 8%



Three different formulas, three different pellet sizes, sinking. Product of Japan. 
$$$$ Saki-Purple color enhancing formula. Ingredients: fish meal, wheat germ meal, soybean meal, wheat flour, brewers dried yeast, starch, dried bakery product, gluten meal, fish oil, spirulina, vegetable oil, rice bran, seaweed meal, astaxanthin, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, vitamins, minerals. Analysis: crude protein - min 45%, crude fat - min 7%, crude fiber - max 3%, crude ash - max 20% 
$$$ Saki-Green growth formula. Ingredients: fish meal, wheat germ, flour, beer yeast, starch, gluten meal, soybean meal, fish oil, vegetable oil, seaweed powder, probiotics, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals. Analysis: crude protein - min 45%, crude fat - min 5%, crude fiber - max 3%, crude ash - max 20%  
$$$$ Saki-Red extreme color enhancing formula. 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. Analysis: crude protein - min 46%, crude fat - min 7%, crude fiber - max 2%, crude ash - max 19% 



$$$$ I have not had the chance to use this food and can not grade it based on the inconsistent ingredient list provided by the seller. As this food is very high on protein, I would feed it to only young fish like fry and BBR. However, listed pellet size 1.6 mm thick and 2-5 mm long would prevent from feeding very young fish without crushing the pellets. Sinking pellets imported from Thailand. Ingredients: "pepper squid", fish meal, vitamin A and B, "fiber", soybean, wheat, lecithin (on the label misspelled as levithin), cod liver oil, minerals, "alga deep". Analysiscrude protein min 69.2%, crude fat min 3%, crude fiber max 8%, crude ash max 10%


After learning and trying and observing most of the above foods and their affects, I leaned toward Azayaka Ranchu Sinking Pellets. So far, I have been getting great results feeding this brand to my ranchu. My tosai growth rate is increased with the use of Azayaka Growth Formula. At five months they have reached over 4 in (10.2 cm) in length, their excrement is not as large and does not float, which indicates good nutrient absorption and healthy digestion. So far these are the best digestion results I have noticed. I also like that I can switch between different formulas and different pellet sizes, knowing that I feed quality ingredients and not too much protein of plant origin (read "Amino What??"). Being not the cheapest food, Azayaka is not the most expensive either. It was a surprise for me to find out that Saki-Hikari (purple bag), which I was buying for years, cost me more ounce per ounce than Azayaka.

Concerning other brands. Although, I do like Omega One Goldfish and Ranchu Kizoku Sinking pellets and still use them for added variety, I noticed with some of my ranchu that these pellets cause some buoyancy problems if fed as a staple. The problems go away after changing the diet. Especially, it is noticeable with Omega One Goldfish Pellets and Omega One Sinking Super Color Kelp Pellets, which are not mentioned in this review. Because of that, I use them only to supplement. As far as Hikari and Saki-Hikari, I stopped using these brands. Apart from being fairly expensive, their formulas contain too much wheat and soy products (read "Amino What??")

After all, I believe that Azayaka is a perfectly balanced ranchu food that is also suitable for any variety of round bodied fancy goldfish. This made me to pursue the idea of making it available to goldfish keepers outside of Japan, where it is gaining great popularity. I was lucky to find a supplier directly in Japan and am able to offer a good price on my blog for freshly delivered to your door Azayaka Ranchu Sinking Pellets.

In conclusion, regardless of the goldfish food choices you make, remember to feed them with a variety of foods. Make it a combination of different dry pellet brands, gel food, bloodworms, few vegetables and definitely your own grown wall algae. All this will ensure a complete diet for your fish, stronger immune system and longevity, and definitely a sense of accomplishment for you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Pandanus amarillifolius plant that I acquired 8 month ago is now officially "rooted". It took awhile for the plant to overcome dividing and its root system being sterilized with Clorox ® solution. Today, the plants are flourishing. By the way the leaves look and their growth rate, it seems that the plants are getting enough nutrients from the ranchu pond. Although, there is no significant effect on reduction of nitrates yet, I hope in the future as the plants get bigger and grow more roots, it will become noticeable. Just to remind, that the pandanus plants are suspended above the surface of water with their roots developing in the water with no substratum.

For now, it is an attractive addition to the pond and my ranchu seem to like to swim up to the roots and pick an algae growth from them. Oh, and did I mentioned that rice cooked with pandanus leaves tastes so much better!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


May be because ranchu are slow swimmers, it is so calming to watch them. While very active during feedings, the rest of the time, ranchu will roam the pond with no rush looking for nibbles or just swim leisurely back and forth. Here is the video of my ranchu swimming in slow motion. With this filming technique every move is accentuated and fun to watch. Enjoy my tosai and nisai swim slower than slow.

Friday, October 3, 2014


It is time to write about the medicines that I have in my "M" cabinet. First off, I have to admit that I do not have enough experience in diagnosing nor recommending any medications for treating a sick goldfish. Likely, my ranchu have not given me much chance (and I hope never) to have hands on experience in treating them. I can only write about what I have researched and thought will be important to have, when the need comes. 

I trust that the best strategy in treating diseases is prevention. The first thing I did, as a preventative measure, I bought a UV Sterilizer. If chosen and set up properly, it can be an effective way to sterilize  pond water from many free floating pathogens found among bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. At the same time it has no negative effect on nitrifying bacteria, as they are not free floating. 

Another very important preventive step is a quarantine. To avoid troubles down the road, when you get a new fish, NEVER introduce it to your established stock without proper quarantine. It is a MUST TO rule to follow. Since I raise my ranchu indoors, I always take an extra step in sterilizing anything that will go into my ranchu pond and have been in contact with soil or any other body of water, or have been used in another aquarium. For this purpose I often use Clorox.

As far as "first aid kit" medicines that I have collected, here is the list (not necessarily in the order of importance) :
  • aquarium salt for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal bath and as a tonic
  • hydrogen peroxide 3%oxidizing agent, topical antiseptic for fungal or bacterial skin infections
  • potassium permanganate, oxidizing agent for antiseptic bath
  • methylene blue for anti-fungal bath and as topical anti-fungal, detoxicant for ammonia, nitrite, and cyanide poisoning
  • praziquantel (PraziPro), anti-parasitic medicine, optional
  • medicated food with metronidazole (Anti-Protozoan Flake), anti-protozoan, optional
  • anti-bacterial medicines and medicated foods

Among anti-bacterial and anti-fungal medicated foods I still have Medi-Gold (no longer available) containing broad spectrum antibiotic sulfadimethoxine and ormetoprim sulfa, and Antibiotic Flake with kanamycin, which fights primarily gram-negative bacteria. I also purchased Elbagin, a yellow powder with bactericidal, fungicidal and mild sedative property, containing sodium nifurstyrenate. Elbagin is not readily available in the US, but is widely used in Asia, especially Japan to treat bacterial problems in fish and as an infection preventative and calming agent during transporting.

When ready to stock up on fish medicines, it is important to note their expiration dates and buy the medicines in small quantities, just enough for the first round of treatment. If the treatment is needed it is very important to make sure that you also provide an adequate environment for your fish with all water parameters in check, and all stressors eliminated or greatly reduced. Medicating your fish won't help in many cases if the overall water quality is not addressed and improved. The steps in treating any sick fish would be, first to a analyze the current water quality and improve it if necessary, then diagnose and evaluate the sick fish condition, then chose a proper treatment. 

Two more cents of wisdom - be reluctant and prudent with using any medications, especially antibiotics and have a solid reason when you decide to start a treatment. Learn to diagnose and to choose the right meds and their application. There are tons of information online to guide through this. One of the great sources is Goldfish Keepers Forum, a must site to join and learn!