The Site For UK Ranchu Lovers
The old adage “BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER” is never truer than when looking at Ranchu. There are many key attributes that a great Ranchu must have including a good wen (head growth), however there is one factor that is almost impossible to describe and that is what I call “Presence”. Some Ranchu can meet all the component parts but if it does not have presence then it will never achieve a great status. As soon as you look at a Ranchu in a bowl you can tell if it has this “look at me quality”, it owns the bowl and is totally at ease in its environment. To help develop this characteristic to some degree I regularly bowl my Ranchu so they are used to the environment, however like actors they either have it or they don’t.
There are a number of aspects that can and do impact the development of head growth.
When looking to breed top quality Ranchu you need to start with a pure Japanese bloodline and work from there, as you develop what will become your own line you can then look to bring in other lines that will add to your fish, be it a stronger back, thicker peduncle, better tail etc. By introducing new blood you are also able to keep the gene pool fresh. We can influence the look of our Ranchu but we need a strong gene pool if we are to breed stunning fish. If the genes are not there for a good head then the chances of your breeding a top quality Ranchu are greatly diminished.
I have been told that it is often said in Japan that 60% of a good Ranchu is down to the genetics the other 40% being influenced by its environment / food or in other words it’s grooming.
When selecting fry during the various development stages the head development is one of the last features you are able to select on, some young fry have a squarer head so that does at least provide the foundation for the type of head growth that I personally like. I have also noticed that young Ranchu that start their head development before they change colour are often those that have a more developed head latter on.
The environment and food regime are critical in developing Ranchu, just as it is possible through grooming to influence development for the good, equally it is possible to hold back the development through poor grooming techniques. Many years ago I was told I was not a “Fisk Keeper” but a “Water Keeper” in which fish live, this is so true with grooming Ranchu. Water changes are frequent normally 100% every three days and the water is pre filtered to remove chlorine, metals etc. For young fish a gentle aeration and low water levels are essential, my Tosai are raised in no more than 10cms deep and of course you need to limit the number of fish in the vat. For the first year I try to keep my fish in water no lower then 20c.
As previously mentioned both the environment and food play an important part in the development of the head, I feed my young fish on a varied diet (Would you want to eat Steak and Chips every day?), that includes a variety of very small pellets (specifically developed for young Ranchu) and imported from Japan, frozen blood worm and chopped earth worms. It is important that the young fry/tosai are fed a number of times during the day rather than one big daily feed. I am fortunate that during the summer months I am able to feed them personally 3-4 times a day, if that is not possible due to other commitments then investing in automatic feeders is a must. If you want to get the best from your fish then you need to feed high protein and good quality food.
Various Head Styles.
Just like haircuts the head growth of a Ranchu has its fashion/popularity at the moment the square look has prominence. It is generally accepted that there are four main styles of head. Ranchu with all white heads do not fare as well at shows as just like the fins being white they do not show well against the show bowl, some red is preferable.
1) Female Mask: A very rounded look and heavy development to the gill plates.
2) Bonnet: As the name suggests most of the head growth is on the top of the head and is very rounded. The Futans and gill plates are not so heavily developed.
3) Dragon Head: Highly developed Futans, gill plates not so fully developed. Creates a very square looking head when viewed from above and personally my favourite.
4) Lion Head: Developed Futans, gill pates and cheeks also developed creating a very round look.
Shown below are a few examples of the various head growths.