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!

5” Imported Red and White RyukinThe 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.

5” Imported Black RyukinColors

Ryukin come in a variety of colors:

  • red,
  • red and white
  • Black
  • blue
  • white
  • iron (rare)
  • tri-color,
  • calico
  • chocolate

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.

5” Imported Calico RyukinRyukin 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.

4 responses

  1. Josh Keely :

    Wow, thanks! My ryukin would sometimes start floating upside down and multiple times I thought it was dead. I also would sometimes see it struggling to stay submerged. I felt bad and was sure it was going to die but had no idea what was going on. Thanks again. This really cleared things up.

    1. rosaline :

      Hi Josh! We are glad that you found this article to be helpful. We hope your Ryukin is doing better today!

  2. Chris Bachman :

    I have a Ryukin we typically keep in an outdoor pond with a half dozen long body goldfish. We used to bring him inside during the winter but this year decided not to since the indoor tank already has a few new warmer water goldfish now. I am concerned he may not be able to handle the Zon5 and Zone 6 temp we get here in Park City. The other goldfish seem to handle it no problem, and I have heard the Ryukins are pretty hardy. He seems to be nose down against the rocks…the others are just hanging around…. Should I be worried?
    I can move him inside but it will be crowded in our 55 gal with a large Oranda and two 4-5″ long others.

    1. Hey Chris! Ryukin should be able to handle the colder temperatures. However, if you have any concerns, we would recommend bringing it inside for the Winter. Just be sure to maintain the water quality in the indoor setup.

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