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Red Cap Oranda Goldfish: Care Guide, Varieties, Lifespan & More (with Pictures)

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By Lindsey Stanton


Goldfish may be one of the most commonly kept pet fish in the world, but many people do not know they are the product of around 2,000 years of selective breeding. This selective breeding has led to dozens of varieties of goldfish. Some goldfish varieties are extremely recognizable, maybe none more recognizable than the Red Cap Oranda. This playful goldfish can make a lovely addition to single or community tanks but may not be the best option for new fish keepers. Read on to learn more about the unique Red Cap Oranda goldfish!aquarium plant divider

Quick Facts About Red Cap Oranda Goldfish

Species Name: Carassius auratus auratus
Family: Cyprinidae
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperature: 65–72˚F
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Orange or red wen; body can be orange, red, black, blue, yellow, gray, white, or silver
Lifespan: 15 years average
Size: 6–7 inches average
Diet: Omnivorous
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons (variable)
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater; filtration; heater; substrate optional; aquatic plants
Compatibility: Other fancy goldfish, peaceful community fish, and invertebrates that cannot fit in the goldfish’s mouth
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Red Cap Oranda Goldfish Overview

The distinguishing feature of Red Cap Orandas is the brain-like growth on top of the head called a wen. The wen usually has few, if any, blood vessels, but it is still prone to injury and infection. These fish are hardier than many other fancy varieties of goldfish but do still require closely monitored water parameters and routine monitoring for injuries to the wen.

Red Cap Orandas are active, spending their time swimming or scavenging. Orandas are fast for fancies, especially when young, but they are still much slower moving than non-fancy goldfish varieties. Even though they spend most of their day swimming about, Orandas are not particularly good swimmers. While they enjoy scavenging, it is important that they are fed foods that are easy for them to eat, like floating pellets. Any food they may miss can be picked up during scavenging later but should not be relied on as their primary source of nutrition.

Their docile nature makes them great tankmates to other peaceful, freshwater fish. However, care should be taken to choose tankmates that will not nip the delicate fins of the Oranda or steal all of their food. It’s also important to consider that Red Cap Orandas are still goldfish and will eat just about any small fish or invertebrate they can fit in their mouth.

How Much Do Red Cap Oranda Goldfish Cost?

Red Cap Orandas are sold for a wide range of prices based on the size, coloration, quality of the breeding stock, and the seller. They can be purchased for as little as $4 to $5 but can also sell for upwards of $30. Due to their needs, the startup cost of purchasing a Red Cap Oranda and necessary equipment can easily exceed $100 for a tank with appropriate space, filtration, heater, and other accessories.aquarium plant divider

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Red Cap Orandas are naturally curious and intelligent. Like many varieties of goldfish, they can learn to recognize patterns, sounds, and people and may be partial to the person who feeds them. They may even beg for food when they see certain people or at specific times of the day. They are peaceful tankmates but will eat almost any tankmate they can fit into their mouth.

Orandas are often content to live in a tank alone, but they do have individual preferences and personalities, so some may enjoy having a friend in their environment.

Side view of a red cap oranda
Photo Credit: © Depositphotos.com / Argument

Appearance & Varieties

The Red Cap Oranda goldfish is a fancy variety of goldfish, meaning it has a double tail. Its tail fins are long and flowing, and its dorsal and pectoral fins are slightly longer than those of a common goldfish but shorter than those of other fancy goldfish varieties. Its body is almost as tall as it is long, giving it a ball-shaped appearance.

Usually, the wen does not make an appearance until around six months of age and is not grown in fully until two years. As the fish ages, the wen continues to grow. It usually sits on the head like a cap, giving the fish its name, but can grow down further onto the face and head without covering the eyes and mouth. Since the wen usually has no blood vessels, it can be trimmed by a professional if it begins to grow over the eyes or mouth.

Red Cap Orandas are most often seen in the color combination of a bright red or orange wen and a body that is a single shade of orange or white. They can also come in different combinations of single, bicolor, or even tricolor bodies and wens, including calico. Other varieties of Orandas include Black Orandas, which have a black wen and varying shades of black or gray bodies, Blue Orandas, also called Seibun Orandas, which have a blue wen with blue, gray, or black bodies, and Panda Orandas, which have a combination of white and black bodies and wens.aquarium plant divider

How to Take Care of Red Cap Oranda Goldfish

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Tank/Aquarium Size:

The recommended tank size for an Oranda goldfish is 30 gallons, but this is variable. They do need space to swim and scavenge, and like most goldfish, they prefer tanks that are long and narrow as opposed to tall and rounded. As long as they have adequate space to swim, Red Cap Orandas can live happily in a variety of tank sizes. Smaller or overstocked tanks will require better filtration and more frequent water changes than larger tanks or those with fewer fish.

Water Temperature and pH:

Red Cap Orandas require a steady water temperature in the 65–72˚F range. Some experts even recommended a smaller temperature range of 68–72˚F. Indoors, they should have a tank heater to maintain the water temperature in this range. Orandas are one of the varieties of fancies that can live in outdoor ponds but only with appropriate water temperatures. They either need to live in warm environments or have a heater appropriate for the size of the pond. Orandas require a neutral pH level between 6.0-8.0.


Goldfish, in general, do not require tank substrate, but Orandas enjoy scavenging and the substrate can provide an enriching environment for them. Aquarium sand is a good choice of substrate. River rocks can be used but provide little scavenging ability. Smooth gravel can also be used, but it should be large enough that it cannot fit in the fish’s mouth to avoid intestinal or oral obstruction. Rough gravel can cause damage to the Oranda’s delicate fins and wen.


There are a large number of plants appropriate for goldfish, but for Orandas, it is best to consider plants that enrich the environment without cutting down on the swim space the fish needs. Good choices for plants Orandas may appreciate include Elodea, Java Fern, Java Moss, and varieties of Anubias.


Red Cap Oranda goldfish require around 8–12 hours of light per day, which can be achieved through artificial lighting or natural lighting. If artificial light is used, day/night cycles are important to maintain sleep/wake cycles in fish, so they should get around 12 hours of dimness or darkness per day.


Goldfish create a heavy bioload in their environment due to their food intake and large amount of waste output. At a minimum, a filter pump appropriate for the size of the tank is necessary, but a stronger pump may be required for multiple fish in the environment. It’s important to remember that aquarium filters house a large amount of the good bacteria needed in the tank to control ammonia and nitrate levels as well as break down fish waste.

If you're a new or even experienced goldfish owner who is having issues understanding the intricacies of water filtration, or just wants a bit more detailed information on it, we recommend that you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish. 

The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

It covers everything about creating the most ideal tank setup and more!

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Are Red Cap Oranda Goldfish Good Tank Mates?

When bringing home a new fish, it is recommended to quarantine them for 2–4 weeks to ensure they do not bring disease or parasites into the community tank. Red Cap Orandas are great tankmates to other peaceful creatures like snails, Neon Tetras, African Dwarf frogs, and Guppies. Orandas and other goldfish can and will eat almost any tankmate they can fit in their mouth, so it is important to keep an eye out for fry from livebearers like Guppies and invertebrates like newly hatched or small snails.

Even small goldfish can become a snack for Red Cap Orandas in community tanks, so usually, it’s safest to keep them with other fish of similar size. It’s best to avoid tankmates that may nip the Oranda’s fins, like mollies and platies. While some bettas can successfully live in community tanks, it is not recommended to put them with Orandas or other long-finned, sensitive fish. Aggressive fish like cichlids should never be included in a community tank with Orandas.

What to Feed Your Red Cap Oranda Goldfish

Red Cap Orandas, like other goldfish, are omnivorous. Feeding a high-quality diet not only ensures longevity and health, but it also creates brighter colors in the body and wen of the Oranda. Floating pellets or flakes or slow-sinking pellets are recommended as opposed to regular sinking food since Orandas are not very efficient swimmers. Hikari, Omega One, and Northfin are trusted brands of goldfish food. Repashy is a gel-food base that also provides high-quality nutrition.

Orandas should also be provided with fresh fruits and vegetables as treats, and it is a good idea to keep greens like arugula, kale, and lettuce in the tank at all times to provide roughage and prevent the eating of tank plants. Any uneaten fresh foods should be replaced daily. Frozen and fresh treats like daphnia and brine shrimp can also be fed to Orandas.

Keeping Your Red Cap Oranda Goldfish Healthy

With proper nutrition and a healthy tank environment, Red Cap Orandas can live long lives. It may be necessary to find a veterinarian who cares for fish if the Oranda’s wen requires trimming or if the fish appears ill. Finding a fish veterinarian can be difficult, but not impossible. Many agricultural veterinarians will care for fish in more rural areas. The American Association of Fish Veterinarians’ website is a great resource. They have a locator tool that allows you to search by state, address, or zip code to find a veterinarian near you.


Orandas are egg-laying reproducers, so breeding relies on creating an environment that mimics a natural breeding environment that will stimulate egg production and laying in females and spawning in males. Ideally, the female and male or males should be moved to a smaller tank, around 10-20 gallons, but breeding can occur in the regular tank as well. Moving the fish from a cooler to a warmer environment slowly and safely usually stimulates breeding.

Providing plants or some kind of spawning mop to catch the eggs will make it easier to keep the eggs safe as well as monitor them. Once the eggs have been laid and fertilized, they will hatch very small goldfish fry in a couple of weeks. These fry will be consumed by adult goldfish, so they should be kept in a separate tank.

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Are Red Cap Oranda Goldfish Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Red Cap Orandas make an aesthetically pleasing and overall delightful addition to a tank or pond. Their unique appearance and playful nature make them excellent aquarium or pond pets. They are intelligent and will even learn to eat from the hand of their keeper. Since they do require specific water parameters and close monitoring of their wen, they should only be taken on by someone with some fish-keeping experience or a new fish keeper with a fully cycled tank and willingness to meet the needs of the fish. These goldfish can live anywhere from 10-20 years or longer, so the long-term commitment of their care should be considered when deciding on a Red Cap Oranda.

Featured Image Credit: hxdbzxy, Shutterstock

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