Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Lionchu Goldfish: Pictures, Size, Care, Tank Setup & More

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

orange lionchu ranchu goldfish in black background

The Lionchu Goldfish is unique among these species because it’s a cross between species. The parents are Lionhead Goldfish and the so-called king of goldfish, the Ranchu. Both varieties have a long history among enthusiasts, although the former is Chinese in origin and the latter Japanese. The Lionchu Goldfish is relatively new, being first bred in Thailand and then exhibited in 2006.

The two parent varieties share similar characteristics, including a devoted following of enthusiasts. The crossing takes the endearing features of both and cranks it up a notch to create a truly unique fish.

Size: Up to 6 inches long
Lifespan: 5 – 10 years
Similar Breeds: Pompom Goldfish, Lionhead Goldfish
Suitable for: Beginners
Temperament: Friendly, easygoing

goldfish divider


Lionchu Goldfish Characteristics

Ease of Care

aquarium plant divider

Lionchu Goldfish Cost

Since it’s a new fish, you may find it challenging to find one. There’s also the popularity of the parent varieties. Both can fetch decent prices, which can affect the availability of Lionchu Goldfish. You can expect to pay at least $100 and several hundred dollars for rare colors. It’ll likely be hard to find a seller with fish for sale. The Ranchu adds to the cost considerably.

The Sociability of the Lionchu Goldfish

The Lionchu Goldfish shares many traits you’ll find with other varieties. They are typically gregarious, schooling fish. Experts recommend keeping them in groups of at least five individuals to provide the necessary enrichment and mental stimulation for these intelligent creatures. Goldfish can communicate with one another with schooling reinforcing these abilities.

Schooling also provides protection against predators for this prey species. A group of scattering fish makes it difficult to capture one. This behavior also provides a forum for them to learn. Observation is vital for survival to pick up life skills. Schooling can relieve stress by having the company of conspecifics. Keeping it under control is critical for disease prevention.

red and white lionchu goldfish in black background
Image Credit: Shabira, Shutterstock

Do These Fish Make Good Pets?

Their sociability and intelligence also come into play with the Lionchu Goldfish’s suitability as a pet. These fish can form memories. They can make associations between stimuli and rewards. Once your pet has settled into its new home, you may be able to teach it to take food from you. After all, treats are potent motivators, even with fish.

There’s no denying how cute the Lionchu Goldfish looks. The fleshy lumps on the fish’s head or wen make the animal look adorable and like stuffed animals. The crossing amplified this feature. Undoubtedly, that has fueled the popularity of the parent varieties and, thus, the Lionchu Goldfish.

Does This Fish Make a Good Tankmate?

The Lionchu Goldfish is friendly enough to make a decent tankmate. The issue lies with other fish that share the water. Their body shape and lack of a dorsal fin make these creatures slow-moving. They couldn’t keep up with fast-moving species that could otherwise tolerate the same tank conditions. They could easily nip at the fins of the Lionchu Goldfish and leave it vulnerable to infections.

Care Guide & Tank Setup

Water Quality, pH & Temperature

Goldfish can handle less-than-ideal conditions, which is one reason they’re popular as beginner pets, particularly with children. That’s a good thing for a species that is such a voracious eater as this one. Consequently, they also produce a lot of waste. Therefore, regular maintenance is imperative. You should test your tank bimonthly for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

Goldfish can tolerate a relatively broad pH range. However, they’ll thrive best if you keep them within a range of 6.0–8.0. Doing partial water changes twice a month can help maintain stable water conditions. You should keep the temperature within 65–78℉. That’s another factor in choosing tankmates since many tropical fish species prefer warmer temperatures.


You can use gravel with pebbles larger than your Lionchu Goldfish can swallow. These fish often root in the substrate, so it’s wise to get gravel that has smooth edges to prevent injuries. Remember that aquarium water isn’t the most sanitary of mediums. Breaks in the skin are open doors to infections with often severe consequences.

lionchu goldfish inside the aquarium
Image Credit: Anstey33, Shutterstock


Goldfish can be destructive if you have live plants. After all, it’s a significant component of their diet. We suggest not fighting this drive. Instead, put inexpensive species for the fish to eat, such as pondweed  (Potamogeton spp.). Artificial plants can provide valuable cover, with many products looking quite realistic for pleasing aesthetics.


Goldfish can see colors. Therefore, it makes sense to provide light for your pet. We recommend setting up a lighted hood with at least 12-hour intervals of day and night. It’ll offer a suitable representation of the species’ life in the wild with a reliable source of vitamin D.


A filtering system is essential for your Lionchu Goldfish. It helps create a stable environment. Remember that these fish live in large bodies of water in the wild where conditions wouldn’t fluctuate much. Your responsibility as a pet owner is to replicate this situation. A power filter will remove floating debris while siphoning the substrate with partial water changes can remove waste.

Things to Know When Owning a Lionchu Goldfish:

Food & Diet Requirements

Goldfish are opportunistic omnivores in the wild. You can replicate this diet in captivity, starting with a commercial diet formulated for these species. They require a minimum protein intake of 29% with 13% fat. They also need a significant amount of carbohydrates due to their plant consumption. We suggest verifying the contents when choosing a product.

You can supplement it with leafy greens to provide them with plant-based foods. Animal-based proteins like bloodworms and brine shrimp can ensure they’re getting enough of these nutrients.

Size and Growth

Interestingly, wild goldfish grow faster and larger than captive-raised fish. After all, the maximum size your Lionchu Goldfish will be is about 6 or more inches long. Conversely, a wild one can get up to 18 inches long. It can also get up to 7 inches long in its first year compared to the roughly 2.5 inches for a captive fish. The difference lies in the size of the waters in which the respective fish live and their diet.

Your Lionchu Goldfish will reach its maximum size around 3 years old. Growth slows after adulthood in contrast to wild fish, where it continues their entire life. Your pet will gain about an inch a year until it reaches its genetically determined size. Remember that these fish are selectively bred with some traits fixed after inbreeding.

Orange and white lionchu goldfish isolated on blue
Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock


A crossing is sometimes a wild card since it’s uncertain which parent’s genes will dominate in varying traits. You’ll see variations in the size and shape of your pet’s wen. Colors can also run the gamut from white to orange to black. Specimens may have a mix of two or three colors, along with calico examples. Remember that the price of the fish will vary with the rarity of the pattern.

Lifespan and Health Conditions

Healthy water conditions are imperative for the good health of your Lionchu Goldfish. It will protect it from complications and secondary infections from injuries. Treating disease usually involves quarantining the infected specimen and adding something to the water. Minimizing stress is vital to aiding recovery.

Minor Conditions
  • Loss of color
Serious Conditions
  • Ich
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fin rot
  • Fungal conditions
  • Parasites
  • Swim bladder disease

Male vs. Female

Male and female fish will both make delightful pets. The differences between the sexes are minimal. Perhaps the primary concern is if you want to breed your fish. You can often get sexed fish, making this prospect easier. The size differences are also subtle.

aquarium plant divider

The 3 Little-Known Facts About the Lionchu Goldfish

1. Written Accounts of the Ranchu Go Back to 1748

The written evidence provides compelling proof of this variety’s existence in Japan. However, it also shows how the appearance of the fish evolved with selective breeding.

2. The Lionhead Has a Larger Head Than the Ranchu

Because this is a combination of the two fish, you need to understand that there are some differences between the parents. For example, the Lionhead is going to have a larger head, hence its name. However, you might see head size vary in the Lionchu.

3. The Color Variability of Goldfish Made Them Important for Religious Purposes

The ancestor of the domesticated goldfish was a dull olive green. That’s a far cry from the array of colors and body shapes we see today. This genetic quality propelled its use for religious purposes.

Multi-colored lionchu goldfish against a blue background
Image Credit: Sardo Michael, Shutterstock

goldfish divider


Final Thoughts

The Lionchu Goldfish is a unique crossing of two popular varieties. The result is both rare and pricey—if you can find one. It brings together the desirable qualities of the two parents to create a decidedly cute fish. However, it’s not like your everyday goldfish. Its body shape and lack of a dorsal fin put it at a disadvantage against faster swimmers that could injure the fish.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Shabira, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database