The lionhead goldfish is the oldest and arguably the most popular of the dorsal-less goldfish breeds.
Bred in China to depict the image of the mythical lion-dog, the lionhead is characterized by the ‘wen’, or head growth, that covers its head.
The lionhead comes in a variety of colors ranging from red, orange, chocolate, blue and black and calico, bi-colored and tri-colored variants.
The lionhead is almost identical in appearance to the ranchu goldfish and is in fact the predecessor to the Japanese bred strain. The lionhead, however, has a larger head growth in comparison to the Ranchu and its back isn’t as rounded.
Lionhead temperament and care
While younger lionheads do not require any special care, older lionheads with larger head growths require a certain amount of special attention and aren’t recommended for beginner aquarists.
The thickening of the head growth as the fish grows older can often obscure their eyes and gills, impeding their vision and breathing. It is therefore crucial to ensure that the lionhead aquarium is adequately oxygenated.
Because of their bulky bodies and lack of a stabilizing dorsal fin, lionheads are also one of the poorest swimmers among fancy goldfish. For this reason, lionheads should not be kept with faster swimming fish. Ideal tank mates for the lionhead include Bubble Eye goldfish, Celestial Eye goldfish and Telescope Eye goldfish.
Lionheads aren’t as agile as other species of goldfish and often blunder into decorations and injure themselves. It’s therefore important to make sure that no decorations or plants in the lionhead aquarium have sharp edges.
Lionheads, like all goldfish, are omnivores and will readily accept any plant or animal matter based food. A high protein diet will encourage more vibrant colors and greater hood growth in lionheads.
Breeding lionhead goldfish
Like most other fancy goldfish varieties, Lionheads aren’t exceptionally difficult to breed and can be encouraged to spawn given the right conditions of a healthy diet, adequate tank space and appropriate water temperatures.
Choosing lionhead goldfish
When selecting a lionhead, it’s important to look for fish with a body depth of ½ or more of their body length. The lionhead’s back should be a smooth and shallow arch from head to tail with no ridges or spikes. A lionhead’s hood should be full, dense and symmetrical on all sides.