Although Chinese in origin, the Ryukin Fancy Goldfish was originally bred from the common Fantail on the Ryukyu Island archipelago between Japan and Taiwan in the late 1700s. It is from this string of 55 islands that the Ryukin draws its name.
They are a popular variety in both the US and Japan. This is probably because they are a hardy species of goldfish and don’t require the more in-depth care or tank preparation that some other Fancy Goldfish do.
Ryukin can grow to as much as 8” long. They also have longevity. With good care, they have been known to live over 10 years!
The Hump and Other Identifying Characteristics
The Ryukin is renowned for its “hump”—which rises from the neck to between the shoulders. It is the most prominent and sought after feature, and as such, it is something that breeders actively try to accentuate. The bigger the hump, the better. This has resulted in some extremely “tall” Ryukin, where they are taller than they are long.
Like the fantail from which they are descended, Ryukin have a pointed head, and are deep bodied (or egg-shaped).
The Ryukin might appear similar to the Fantail, as both have the double—or split—caudal (tail) fin, however, the Ryukin’s is wider. The Ryukin tail fin can have three and sometimes four lobes, and can be double the length of its body. Those with the long tail are also known as Fringe- or Ribbon-tails. Butterfly tails are also found on Ryukin Goldfish. They are also available in long and short finned varieties.
Ryukin come in a variety of colors:
- red and white
- iron (rare)
Care and Handling
As a result of their body style and shape, some issues can develop. The intestinal tract can end up becoming clogged with food leading to constipation. This can be mitigated by not overfeeding. If it does occur, peel-less peas can help to move the process along.
They can also have swim bladder issues (as do some other egg-shaped goldfish). However, floating upside down can also be a symptom of constipation, so using the constipation protocol can sometimes rectify it.
Ryukin can handle a fairly large water temperature variance. They can survive near-freezing temperatures, meaning that they can survive in ponds (as long as the temperature drop is only a few degrees per day). However, Ryukin are best viewed from the side so if for no other reason than aesthetics, they are better suited to aquarium or tank life.
Also, because of their “height” (increased vertical profile), whichever body of water they are going to live in needs to be deeper than that of other goldfish.
They are better swimmers that some other types of goldfish (like Bubble Eyes), and as such can often out-compete some less mobile goldfish, making them poor tank mates. Additionally, Ryukin can be aggressive to other Fancy goldfish breeds, so mixing them with the slower, smaller or less mobile goldfish might not be a good idea. Other Ryukin, Lionheads, Ranchu, Fantails and Orandas are better options in the same environment.