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Lionchu Goldfish: Care Guide, Varieties, Lifespan & More (with Pictures) 

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By Lindsey Stanton

Lionchu or lionhead-ranchu_Anstey33_shutterstock


The Lionchu Goldfish is a hybrid breed created by crossing the Lionhead and Ranchu varieties of goldfish. They were originally bred in Thailand but are becoming more and more popular worldwide thanks to their attractive appearance and placid temperament.

They do have some specific tank requirements that mean they’re not the best breed for beginner aquarists, but they can make the perfect addition to a tank in experienced homes. Let’s find out more about the charismatic and eye-catching Lionchu!aquarium plant divider

Quick Facts about Lionchu Goldfish

Species Name: Carassius auratus
Family: Cyprinidae
Care Level: Medium
Temperature: 65°-78° Fahrenheit
Temperament: Sociable and friendly
Color Form: Orange, red, blue, black, calico, and tri-color
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Size: Adults grow up to 6 inches
Diet: Omnivorous. Can be fed pellets, flakes, vegetables, fruit, and live food
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons for 1 fish, 50 gallons minimum for a community tank
Tank Set-Up: Well filtered water with low water flow. Avoid sharp substrates as these fish are prone to infections
Compatibility: Suitable for community tanks with small schooling fish and other slow-moving goldfish; should not be kept with fast or aggressive species
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Lionchu Goldfish Overview

The Lionchu Goldfish is a hybrid or mixed breed fish, created by crossing the Lionhead and Ranchu breeds. They have yet to be recognized by the American Goldfish Association (AGA) or Goldfish Society of America (GSFA) but are becoming increasingly popular with aquarists thanks to their placid temperaments and attractive looks.

This breed originates in Thailand, with their increased popularity down to a group of goldfish hobbyists. They were first exhibited at the My Fancy Goldfish Competition in Singapore back in 2006, and their popularity has been growing ever since.

There are some concerns that their lack of dorsal fin and excessive facial tissue leads to welfare issues, including decreased swimming ability, impaired vision, and risks of infection.

They need a specific set of tank parameters, which generally need an experienced aquarist’s skill to maintain. As such, they’re not a suitable breed for beginners. They’re a peaceful and graceful addition to any tank but should not be kept with certain other species which may out-compete them for food and other resources.

Kept in the proper conditions, they can live for up to 15 years.

How Much Do Lionchu Goldfish Cost?

The price of Lionchu Goldfish will vary depending on their quality and breeding. Expect to pay anywhere from $60 and upwards for one fish. Rare colored fish may cost more.aquarium plant divider

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Lionchu Goldfish are sociable and placid. They are slow swimmers and can get out-competed when it comes to swimming for their dinner! While they might love their food, they don’t always reach it before other fish in a community tank.

They are gentle and non-aggressive. They will happily live in a tank on their own, with other Lionchu goldfish, or in a community tank with appropriate other species.

Red Oranda Gold Fish_Sardo Michael_shutterstock
Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

There is no official breed standard for the Lionchu, as they’ve yet to be accepted by the Goldfish Society of America (GFSA) or the American Goldfish Association (AGA).

The Lionchu combines many of their parent breeds’ characteristics, including the broad and curved back and tail placement of the Ranchu with the large head growth of the Lionhead.

Lionchu Goldfish can be found in a range of colors, including metallic orange, metallic red and white, metallic black and white, metallic blue scale, and metallic ancient bronze and white. They can also have nacreous type scales, in the colors bi-color, tri-color, and calico. All can have spangles.aquarium plant divider

How to Take Care of Lionchu Goldfish

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

If you’re trying to decide what sort of tank setup a Lionchu Goldfish will need, here’s all the information you need!

Tank size

You should allow a minimum of 20 gallons for your first Lionchu Goldfish, adding another 10 gallons for each additional fish. A tank size of at least 50 gallons is recommended if you’re going to have a community tank.

Lionchu Goldfish are not an appropriate species for small Nano tanks.

Water temperature, pH, and quality

A low wattage heater is needed to maintain your water temperature between 65° – 78°F.

They’re sensitive to pH changes, so water needs to be kept within a pH of 6.0-8.0.

Hardness can be within a broader range, from 5-19 dGH.

Levels of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites should be kept as close to 0 ppm as possible. Regularly testing your water quality is essential to make sure you can quickly make any adjustments as soon as possible.

If you need help getting the water quality in your aquarium just right for your goldfish family, or just want to learn more on the subject (and more!), we recommend that you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish.

The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

It covers everything from water conditioners to nitrates/nitrites to tank maintenance and full access to our essential fishkeeping medicine cabinet!


Lionchu Goldfish are pretty sensitive and can easily pick up fin tears and wen infections. For this reason, a simple tank setup is recommended, using either smooth stones or sand. Avoid any décor with rough or abrasive edges to minimize the risk of your Lionchu cutting themselves.

Some owners even keep a bare-bottom tank for this species.


Plants are not essential, but you can add them for some vertical interest. Your Lionchu Goldfish are omnivorous, so they may eat your plants or dig them up.


Lionchu can live happily in both high and low-light environments.

Filtration & Aeration

In general, goldfish produce a lot of waste but have high oxygen needs, so investing in a high-quality filter is essential.

Lionchu Goldfish are sensitive to poor water quality, so you’ll need a powerful filter to keep your water quality as high as possible. Adding aeration devices like a bubbler is recommended to increase water movement and oxygenation, as well as maximizing filtration.

Keep the water flow low, as Lionchu aren’t strong swimmers, so can struggle in a tank with high currents.aquarium plant divider

Are Lionchu Goldfish Good Tank Mates?

As we already mentioned, Lionchu are relatively poor swimmers, so they find it difficult to compete for food with faster swimming species. They won’t cope well living in a community tank with Shubunkin, Comet, or Common Goldfish, who are all much stronger swimmers.

Keeping them with fish that may nip their fins or otherwise act aggressively should also be avoided. Because Lionchu are slow swimmers, they will be unable to swim away fast enough, and their placid temperament means they won’t defend themselves. Ripped fins can easily become infected in this sensitive species.

Some species that Lionchu can be kept with include:
  • Bottom feeders including banded corydoras and loaches
  • Snails, shrimp, and freshwater crab
  • Peaceful schooling fish like minnows and danios
  • Slow-swimming species like Celestial Goldfish, Bubble Eye, Oranda, Fantail, Ryukin and Black Moor

If you’re in doubt about which species to keep your Lionchu with, you can keep them in a single-species tank.

What to Feed Your Lionchu Goldfish

Lionchu Goldfish love their food, so you do need to keep an eye on how much they’re fed to avoid them overeating. Keep feed times to a maximum of twice per day.

They enjoy a wide range of foods, including:
  • High-quality flakes
  • Goldfish pellets
  • Vegetables
  • Plant matter
  • Fruits
  • Brine shrimp
  • Tubifex worms
  • Daphnia
  • Bloodworms

Meat should make up no more than 50% of their diet, with the rest being made up of pellets, flakes, fruits, vegetables, and plant matter.

Because Lionchu are poor swimmers, you may need to monitor feed times to make sure that every fish in your tank receives their fair share. Some owners will use tongs to place food directly in front of their fish.

Keeping Your Lionchu Goldfish Healthy

Lionchu goldfish are quite delicate, and owners need to monitor them carefully to make sure they’re healthy.

The Lionchus excessive facial tissue, sometimes called a wen or hood, can cause some health and welfare issues. This hood can grow to the extent that it starts to interfere with their gills, as well as their ability to swim and see.

The excess flesh can also increase the risk of them suffering from skin infections.

Lionchu also lack a dorsal fin, which is one of the main reasons they’re poor swimmers. Goldfish without dorsal fins are typically slow swimmers and have to expend more effort into moving around. They also tend to roll from side to side when both resting and moving, as the lack of dorsal fin affects their stability.

Keeping your fish tank clean is vitally important to prevent your fish from suffering from the following:
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites
  • Protozoa

Lionchu, like many other goldfish, can suffer from swim bladder disease.

An improperly balanced diet can lead to bloating and constipation.


Breeding Lionchu Goldfish is best left to professional breeders, especially as to produce this hybrid, you need both Lionhead and Ranchu goldfish.aquarium plant divider

Are Lionchu Goldfish Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Lionchu Goldfish can make an excellent addition to many home aquariums. They’re peaceful fish who love their food! They’re not strong swimmers due to their body shape and lack of dorsal fin. Their exaggerated facial tissue can sometimes impair their gills and vision.

Lionchu Goldfish are laid-back, but they’re prone to a few different health conditions and need to live in a carefully managed tank in order to minimize the risks of them suffering from skin conditions. It’s best to keep them either alone, in a single-species tank, or with other slow swimming and non-aggressive fish.

If you’re an experienced aquarist who’s confident establishing and maintaining the exact conditions that these fish require, then the Lionchu Goldfish might just be the perfect new addition to your tank!

Featured image credit: Anstey33, Shutterstock

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