The Site For UK Ranchu Lovers



A Brief History

Ranchu The King of the Goldfish.


Where does one start when considering this magnificent fish, I guess the best place is at the beginning. It is generally agreed that the development of the humble goldfish started in China where in its natural form it was kept as a food fish. There is some discussion as to whether the Prussian carp (carassius auratus gibelio) or the Crucian carp (Carassius carassius) were the original forefathers of the goldfish, research tends to indicate that the Prussian carp is the likely ancient ancestor as there exists greater similarities. The fish were kept in ponds for easy access and some of the farmers started to notice small differences in coloration, rather than silver these fish showed traces of gold, before long these fish were separated from the rest and shown to visitors and from there the goldfish culture started. The first historical report of fancy goldfish being introduced into Japan is 1502. Since its humble origins the goldfish has remained a firm favourite, and is now a truly worldwide fish and man has and continues to develop many differing varieties.


Although the Ranchu started of life in China, it was in Japan during the Meiji period (1868 – 1912) that the basics of the fish we know today were firmly established and to this day is where the real masters of this fish reside. We must remember that the Ranchu is not a natural fish but one that has been developed by man. When looking at early pictures of Ranchu you can see how the fish continues to be developed. The fact that this is a man made fish means that many of the youngsters that result from spawning have small defects and do not come up to the standard required, hence there are few good quality specimens that become available as only the best are selected and grown on to maturity.


A true Japanese Ranchu needs to conform to certain core characteristics, a strong clean back, a thick powerful  peduncle (no narrowing towards the tail), good proportioned head growth with strong funtans (jowels), and a well balanced and set tail are but a few of them.


As a result of differing cultures we now have a mixture of fish that have their ancestry in Ranchu, There is the Japanese Ranchu, the Chinese version  and the Lionchu.

A true Japanese Ranchu will have a slightly longer body and a square cut head whereas the Chinese version will have a deeper body and the overall appearance of the wen (head growth) will tend to be rounder. The Lionchu is a cross between a Ranchu and a Lionhead. Within the UK there has been much work to develop a set standard.


In Japan Ranchu are viewed from the top in white enamel bowls that are at the most 60cms off the floor. True Ranchu

enthusiasts will stand for hours stooped over a white enamel bowl looking at a prize specimen. When judging high grade

specimens the slightest demerit can make the difference from being a winner to an also ran, as an example the tail pipe

entering into the bracelet is seen as a serious demerit.  It is a misconception that Japanese Ranchu are only appreciated

from above, yes the top view is important but the overall appearance of the fish is also taken into account, it must be

balanced (Ogata), hold itself well in the water (no head standing), skin quality must be good and for a real show winner it

must have presence and that is something that cannot be quantified in a standard, the fish either has it or it has not.


Compared to the All Japan Ranchu Show (AJRS) the UK shows are in their infancy and have only a few dedicated members

,whereas in Japan it is a major event with many hundreds both exhibiting and attending.  A major difference between UK shows and those in Japan is that initially in Japan all Ranchu are placed in large vats according to their classification (age) and only those deemed worthy are then selected and placed into the white bowls. To achieve white bowl status is a true accolade. In the UK we are far more concerned about transmitting disease between fish and all fish entered are placed directly into individual white bowls, thereby reducing the chance of cross contamination.
















  A Chinese style Ranchu, note the short body length, and rounded wen.                                                                           Judges and exhibitors at All Japan Ranchu Show 2009