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Lionhead Goldfish: Pictures, Lifespan, Care & Breeding Tips (Ultimate Guide)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Lionhead goldfish

I guarantee you’ll be blown away by what you’re about to learn.

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Quick Facts about Comet Goldfish

Species Name: Carassius auratus auratus
Temperature: 75°–80° F
Temperament: Sweet, gentle, wiggly
Lifespan: 5–10 years on average
Size: 6 to 8 inches on average
Hardiness: Somewhat hardy
Tank Size: 10 gallons

We love the ease and selection eBay offers for purchasing Lionhead goldfish. eBay has terms and conditions for the sellers, which ensure the prompt and safe delivery of the fish. Of course, as with any online purchases, you should always read the reviews from any individual seller you are considering before you purchase to protect your newest addition to your fish tank family.

lionhead goldfish swimming
Image credit: Huy Thoai, Shutterstock

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Lionhead Goldfish Overview

Lionheads are rapidly gaining ground in popularity. Even chain pet stores are picking up on the trend and offering them for sale to their customers. To be perfectly frank, the young ones aren’t that impressive.

With stubby fins, missing dorsal, and pointy heads, they don’t look much different than a torpedo. But once they get bigger…

… And their wen starts to develop…

… And they put on some weight around the middle…

These fish start to look a lot more like what they were named after. It can be argued that the wen is their most prominent feature. While the Oranda sports “wennage” mostly on the top of the head, the Lionhead’s wen covers the whole head—cheeks, gill plates, and crown. This puffy “mane” is what gave them their name!

As far as coloration goes, they come in a wide variety, from deep rich blacks to striking sakura. Their most common color pattern is red and white. In Asia, a popular coloration is Tancho or white with a red cap on top! (Sometimes referred to as “red crane.”)

Lionheads are a kind of dorsal-less goldfish with short fins and (in good specimens) a full wen. Many of them are sold as Ranchus in pet stores. A lot of people get confused when it comes to telling the difference between a Ranchu or a Lionhead. Since the Ranchu came from the Lionhead and they look incredibly similar, that doesn’t really come as a surprise. What’s the secret? It’s actually in the shape of the back and the tuck of the tail when the fish is viewed from the side.

Ranchus have a much tighter tail tuck and curved/arched back, whereas Lionheads have a flatter back. Ranchus also have a shorter body and don’t develop quite as much wen growth, though more recently bred ones seem to have fuller growth. There are actually “Lionchus”—fish that are half and half!

lionhead goldfish_Arunee Rodloy_shutterstock (2)
Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

Fun fact:

A long-finned “Lionhead” is a Shukin!

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How to Take Care of a Lionhead

Lionheads can be surprisingly hardy and active fish, despite their modified body types. In fact, some people have success leaving theirs outside to winter without any more trouble than other hardier breeds. But they do have one weakness, which can happen to more mature fish.

If the wen growth becomes so large that it encloses their eyes, they can have difficulty seeing. Some variants like the Catlion have CRAZY HUGE wens. This can lead to trouble finding food and competing with the faster fish in the aquarium. It is possible to trim the wen (like an Oranda), but this might not be easy for the average hobbyist.

Lionheads also face another difficulty: Their short bodies. The Lionhead has been bred to have a more compact body. In fact, the more recent ones have a much shorter body than the ones bred in times past.

They can have trouble with their swim bladders unless their feeding schedule and water conditions are on point. But like other fancies, they can also live up to 10 years (on average)!

Choose the Right Aquarium Size

As we’ve already covered, Lionheads with excessive wen growth can have trouble navigating their environment. That’s why it’s really important to make sure there is nothing in the goldfish’s tank that could potentially lead to injury, such as pointy objects on tank decorations or areas they could get stuck in. Make sure yours has a proper home to live in, and don’t fall for the misconception of the ever-popular but dangerous goldfish bowl. It won’t be able to reach its full potential or have a happy life.

Lionchu or lionhead-ranchu_Anstey33_shutterstock
Image Credit: Anstey33, Shutterstock

Aim for 10-20 gallons of water when choosing your tank size. That way, your fish will be able to grow big and strong and not get poisoned by the bad water conditions and stress.

If you're a new or experienced goldfish keeper who’s struggling to figure out the best temperature for your goldfish family, check out our best-selling book on Amazon, The Truth About Goldfish,  which covers everything about tank maintenance practices, maintaining optimum fish health, and more!

The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

This crucial aspect of the tank setup could be affecting your pet’s health more than you suspect.  which 

Providing the Right Water Temperature

It just so happens that (unlike lots of other species) goldfish adapt to their environment pretty well. However, chilly water is more likely to cause health problems as the fish’s immune system is weaker. Of course, too hot is stressful also. So, what is the best temperature for goldfish to make your finned friend comfortable? For nearly all types of goldfish, including Lionheads, it’s actually in the 75-80 degrees F range.

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Are Lionhead Goldfish Good Tank Mates?

Could it be that your pet is longing for a fishy friend? If so, you’ll want to find out what other fish you can safely keep with your Lionhead goldfish. Because of their friendly personalities, they tend to do great with most other fancy types of goldfish, with maybe the best being other moors or fish that are vision impaired, such as other telescopes or celestial eye goldfish.

But here’s an important tip: Only keep other goldfish in with goldfish.

They do best that way…TRUST ME. Interesting to look at doesn’t matter nearly as much as having a peaceful tank. The bottom line? Please don’t make the mistake of putting other kinds of fish in there too, like tropical fish, as they don’t mix well and can hurt your goldfish.

beautiful red lionhead goldfish_Arunee Rodloy_shutterstock
Image By: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

What to Feed Your Lionhead Goldfish

Diet plays a critical role in the well-being of your Lionhead and also its growth. Goldies are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter for their food. A balanced diet is really important to them because, with their rounder body shape, they are prone to swim bladder trouble. That’s why it’s really important to have a solid feeding plan.

Choosing a quality staple food is the biggest step to take when you are figuring out how to feed a balanced meal to your aquatic pets.

You can read more about goldfish diet requirements in our feeding article.

Breeding Lionheads

Trying to find the breeding tubercles (or “breeding stars”) on a Lionhead goldfish’s gills is pretty much impossible.

But there’s hope:

During the breeding season, check the front rays of the pectoral fins. Breeding can be induced by exposing the fish to a period of cold weather followed by a period of warmer weather. Once they finally decide to breed, They can lay over a thousand eggs!

Everything Else You Need to Know

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to caring for your Lionhead. There just isn’t enough time to go into all the detail! But don’t worry: I wrote a complete care guide called “The Truth About Goldfish.”

It contains ALL the information you will ever need to make sure your fish doesn’t just survive but THRIVES. I’m sure you want yours to reach its full potential, right?

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What do You Think?

Have you ever owned a lovely Lionhead goldfish? What was your experience with this breed of fish? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Featured Image: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

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