Lionchu Goldfish; Care Guide, Lifespan, and More

The Lionchu is a very unusual goldfish breed that makes a great talking point when included in a Fancy goldfish collection.

However, we don’t recommend these odd-looking fish for beginners. Lionchu goldfish are quite delicate creatures. The fish’s fleshy “wen” is prone to injury and infection, and the Lionchu’s poor swimming ability often leaves it struggling to compete with its more agile tank mates for food.

Read this guide to learn more about the Lionchu and how to care for them. 

Origins Of The Lionchu Goldfish

All goldfish are thought to be related to a species of carp. These wild Prussian carp were originally bred for food in China in the 1700s.

A few brightly coloured carp appeared, probably due to a genetic quirk. Breeders kept those “golden fish” and started to experiment with crossbreeding them. As a result, the first recognizable goldfish appeared! Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the fish were widely traded with Japan, Europe, and latterly, the U.S., becoming extremely popular as ornamental pond fish.

All varieties of modern goldfish are captive-bred. If you do ever see a goldfish swimming in your local park pond, it’s probably an unwanted pet that’s outgrown its tank and been set free by the owner.

What Is A Lionchu Goldfish?

The Lionchu goldfish is a Fancy goldfish variety that is produced by crossbreeding the Lionhead and Ranchu goldfish breeds.

The Lionchu combines the characteristics of both parent breeds, having a broad, curved back, deep body, and similar tail placement to that of the Ranchu, and the large, fleshy head growth or wen of the Lionhead. Like both their parents, Lionchus don’t have a dorsal fin.

Lionchus are a relatively new goldfish breed, coming from Thailand and being made popular by a group of goldfish enthusiasts from Singapore. 

Lionchu Goldfish Lifespan

Lionchu goldfish typically have a lifespan of between ten and 15 years. That being said, if the fish are provided with the optimum aquarium conditions and a high-quality, balanced diet, the fish can often live for over 20 years.

In exceptional cases, some Fancy goldfish have been known to reach an incredible 30 years of age, sometimes outliving their owners! 

What Size Are Lionchu Goldfish?

Lionchu goldfish generally grow to around 6 inches in length or more.

The tiny fish you buy in fish stores are typically three to six months old, quickly growing to double their size in just a few months. So, when choosing a fish tank for your Lionchu goldfish, be sure to buy a tank that’s going to be big enough for them once the fish are fully mature.

Colors And Patterns

Lionchu goldfish come in an impressive range of colors, patterns, and scale types, including:

  • Metallic red
  • Metallic orange
  • Metallic blue
  • Metallic black and white
  • Metallic bronze and white
  • Metallic red and white
  • Calico nacreous scales
  • Bi and tri-color nacreous scales

All the different colors and patterns can have spangles.

Price And Availability

Lionchus are not commonly available in your local fish store or pet shop. However, you can usually buy the fish online. 

The price of the fish depends on their quality, breeding, and colors. Generally, prices vary from $60 and upward for one fish. Rare examples are considerably more expensive.

Is The Lionchu Goldfish Suitable For Beginners?

We don’t recommend the Lionchu goldfish for beginners to the hobby.

These are sensitive fish that can be vulnerable to fluctuations in water quality. The Lionchu’s wen is very prone to damage and infection, and the fish often struggle to get enough to eat, as their clumsy swimming style prevents them from competing with more agile tank mates.

Lionchu Goldfish Care Guide

In this section of our guide to caring for Lionchu goldfish, we tell you everything you need to know about looking after these amazing fish.

Tank Size

Lionchu goldfish need a tank of at least 20 gallons. That allows enough space for the fish to swim and prevents overcrowding. You’ll need to provide an additional ten gallons per extra fish.

If you’re going to set up a community tank, you’ll need an aquarium of at least 50 gallons.

Lionchus are not suitable fish for a nano tank or goldfish bowl. Your fish won’t stop growing because you keep them in a small container. Instead, your Lionchus might be physically abnormal, or their growth rate will be stunted. For that reason, we recommend you buy the largest aquarium you have the space to accommodate.

All goldfish need lots of oxygen to thrive, so you need to provide your fish with an environment that’s rich in oxygen. For that reason, the aquarium should be rectangular rather than tall. That shape makes it easier for the fish to swim to the surface to feed and provides plenty of surface area for efficient gaseous exchange. 

How Many Goldfish Can You Keep?

Lionchus enjoy the company of other goldfish. These are peaceful fishes, but because of their poor swimming ability, they should only be kept with other round-bodied varieties of Fancy goldfish, such as Ryukins, Butterfly Telescope goldfish, and the like. 

Comets and other slim-bodied goldfish are very fast, agile swimmers that will outcompete the slower Lionchus for food and don’t make good tank mates. 

Water Parameters

Lionchus need a water temperature of between 65o and 72o Fahrenheit. 

These fish are sensitive to water pH, which needs to be kept between 6.0 and 8.0, with the water hardness in the range of  5 and 19 dGH. Goldfish are freshwater fish, but they can tolerate a moderately brackish environment as long as the salinity is under 10% with a specific gravity of below 1.002.

The levels of ammonia and nitrite must always be zero, and nitrates should be 20ppm or below. 

Although goldfish don’t generally jump, the aquarium needs a cover slide or hood to prevent startled fish from leaping out. A hood also helps to reduce evaporation and prevents dust and foreign bodies from falling into the water. 

Filtration Systems

Goldfish are notoriously dirty fish, producing massive quantities of waste each day. Goldfish don’t have a stomach, so as the fish swims, whatever it eats passes straight through the creature’s digestive tract and out into the water. 

So, you need a powerful filtration system to keep the water clean and safe for the fish. When choosing your filter, look for one with a GPH (gallons per hour) rate of at least four times that of your tank’s volume. That means that the filter pump passes the water through the filter media four times every hour, ensuring that the environment stays healthy and clean for your Lionchus.

As previously mentioned, Lionchus are dreadful swimmers, wobbling around in the water, and sometimes struggling to get from A to B. For that reason, you need a filter system with an adjustable outflow valve so that you can direct the flow away from the fishes’ swimming area, or you can use ornaments or dense planting as a buffer as an alternative.

Tank Maintenance

To keep your goldfish tank looking good and safe for your fish, there’s quite a bit of tank maintenance to do.

Every week, you need to change up to 30% of the water to remove nitrates. The easiest way to do that is to use an aquarium vacuum to simultaneously suck up uneaten fish food, organic waste, and plant debris from the substrate. Hotspots for accumulations of waste include underneath decorations and the filter box and around plant bases.

Any living plants in your setup must be kept tidy and any dead leaves removed, and broken stems trimmed. Although you want to leave a small amount of algae somewhere unobtrusive for the fish to graze on, you should get rid of most of it to keep the viewing panes clear.

Tank Decoration

You can use whatever décor scheme you fancy for your goldfish tank. However, if you keep delicate goldfish species, such as Lionchus or Bubble Eyes, there are a few crucial guidelines to follow for the fishes’ safety.

Stay Safe!

Lionchus have a fleshy wen on their heads that is very vulnerable to damage by sharp or abrasive objects in the tank. In extreme cases, the fish’s wen grows right down over its eyes, preventing the fish from seeing clearly. For that reason, we recommend that you keep tank decorations around the edges of the tank, leaving the middle clear.

The best choice of substrate for Lionchus is a large gauge, smooth gravel that won’t injure the fish when they’re foraging for food scraps.

Live Plants

Fresh plants make a valuable addition to your tank. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the plants take up nitrates and carbon dioxide from the water to use as nutrients. Plants give off oxygen, too, helping to oxygenate the environment for the fish.

However, all goldfish species tend to dig up plants and eat certain delicate species. So, choose tough species that won’t fall victim to the goldfishes’ attention, such as Anubias, Java Fern, and Marimo Moss Balls.


Goldfish benefit from a night-day cycle in their tank. The fish become active when the lights come on in the morning and then rest when darkness falls in the evening. If you keep live plants, you must provide them with eight to ten hours of light each day so that the plants can photosynthesize.

Ideally, you’ll have a lighting unit with an automatic timer. However, if you don’t, you can use a simple timer plug that you’ll get from good DIY stores.

Nutrition and Feeding

Goldfish are omnivores, eating both meaty protein and plant matter, including algae. 

You can replicate that diet pretty easily for your captive fish by including Fancy goldfish flakes or pellets as a daily ration, as well as some frozen meaty foods. A good basic diet for Lionchu goldfish can include:

  • Fancy goldfish pellets and flakes
  • Frozen meaty foods, including brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, tubifex worms, etc.
  • Fresh veggies, such as skinned peas, zucchini, etc.

All varieties of egg-shaped Fancy goldfish are prone to digestive problems, including constipation and bloating. Those conditions can impact the fish’s swim bladder, which affects the Lionchu’s ability to swim on an even keel. Affected fish swim on one side, sink to the bottom of the tank, or sometimes float at the surface, unable to swim down.

Fortunately, you can usually cure those problems by starving your fish for 24 hours, and then including meaty protein and fresh veggies in the fishes’ diet.

Do Lionchu Goldfish Like Live Foods?

Lionchu goldfish love live foods! Unfortunately, we don’t recommend feeding live foods to your fish. Although undoubtedly nutritious and a natural diet, live foods often come with a cargo of hidden bacteria and parasites that can be very dangerous for your fish.

Instead, feed your fish frozen meaty foods, unless you fancy taking on a home brine shrimp hatchery.

How Much To Feed Lionchu Goldfish?

Lionchu goldfish should have two or three small meals each day. You can prevent overfeeding by offering your Lionchus only what they will clear in a few minutes. Leftover food should be removed with an aquarium vacuum cleaner to prevent the food from rotting and polluting your tank.

What Are Good Tank Mates For Lionchu Goldfish?

Goldfish are a peaceful species that thrive when kept in groups of their own kind. 

As mentioned earlier, the best tank mates for Lionchu are other round-bodied Fancy goldfish. You can also include large species of snails and shrimp that can add interest to the tank, as well as acting as a cleaning crew for your aquarium. However, tiny shrimp should be avoided, as they will most likely be eaten by the Lionchu.

Avoid slim-bodied goldfish. These types are very fast swimmers that can hassle and barge the Fancies at feeding times, leading to stress and injuries. 

Health and Diseases

Lionchu are somewhat fragile when compared with other varieties of goldfish, and they can be affected by a few health conditions, including:

Wen Injuries

The Lionchu’s wen is very susceptible to injury. 

An overdeveloped wen can trap bits of debris among the folds, which often sets up bacterial infections.

Check your Lionchu’s every day for signs of damage to the wen, and treat any damage right away with a broad-spectrum antibacterial medicine that you can buy in pet or fish stores.

White Spot Disease

White Spot Disease is also known as Ich or Ick.

The Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite causes Ich. This aquatic parasite is often found in marine and freshwater fish tanks. However, the parasite only causes problems for fish that are already diseased or weakened by stress.

In the early part of its lifecycle, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis attaches itself to the fish’s skin. Infected Lionchus will flash or flick themselves against solid objects in the tank in an attempt to remove the irritating parasites. After a few days, a sprinkling of tiny white spots appears across the fish’s body, gills, and fins.

White Spot isn’t generally fatal if treated promptly with an over-the-counter medication that you’ll get from a good pet store.

Bacterial Infections

Stressed or injured Lionchu often contract secondary bacterial infections. The nature of the symptoms of bacterial infection are varied but can include:

  • Reddened  areas on the body
  • Ulcers
  • Lethargy
  • Ragged, torn fins
  • Missing scales
  • Lack of appetite
  • Breathing difficulties

Minor bacterial infections are generally treatable with medication that you can buy in good fish stores or from your local veterinary clinic.


Fluke is the term that’s used to describe various species of external parasites that can attack goldfish. The most common flukes that are found in coldwater tanks, include:

  • Anchor worms
  • Fish lice
  • Skin flukes

Flukes get into your tank on new fish, hidden among the leaves of plants, or with live food. 

To prevent flukes getting into your aquarium, always quarantine any new fish for a couple of weeks before you transfer them to your main tank. Inspect plants carefully, and remove anything obvious. Then, wash the plants in a solution of tank water and an antiparasitic drug.

Breeding Lionchu Goldfish

Although breeding most types of goldfish is pretty straightforward, that’s not the case with Lionchus.

The Lionchu is a hybrid, and to produce one, you need to use Lionhead and Ranchu goldfish parents. For that reason, we recommend that you leave breeding this unusual, delicate fish to professional breeding operations or very experienced hobbyists.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to the weird and wonderful Lionchu goldfish. If you did, please share it!

Lionchu goldfish are a very delicate species of these popular coldwater fish. For that reason, we don’t recommend these fish for beginners. For these large fish to thrive, you’ll need a 20-gallon tank as a minimum, adding a further ten gallons for every additional fish you want to add to your collection. You’ll also need to run and maintain a powerful filter system to cope with the excessive waste that these goldfish produce.

Do you keep Lionchu goldfish? What tank mates do you keep with your Lionchu? Tell us about your goldfish in the comments box below.

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