Oranda Goldfish: Everything you need to know

The Oranda goldfish, Carassius auratus auratus, is a variety of fancy goldfish and one of the most popular goldfish types on the planet!

In Japan, these goldfish are known as Oranda Shishigashiri. And there’s a calico version, too, called Azuma Nishiki. Orandas are popular with breeders and collectors throughout Asia, where the fish are also referred to as Tiger goldfish or Tigerheads. 

What Do Oranda Goldfish Look Like?

Orandas are distinguished by the fleshy growth on the top of their heads that’s called a wen. The wen doesn’t appear until the fish is around three to four months old, fully forming after about one to two years and continuing to grow until the fish is between two and three years old.

Orandas have egg-shaped bodies covered with large, round scales, which can be metallic or matte. 

The caudal (tail fin) is long and split, forming a beautiful floating fan shape when the fish hangs stationary in the water. For that reason, in China, these fish are called “flowers of the water.” The fish’s other fins are usually paired, giving the creature an enchanting symmetrical appearance.

Fish of Many Colors!

Orandas come in a wide range of colors, including red, calico, black, red and white, and even blue.

One of the most popular and sought after color morphs is the Redcap Oranda, which is completely silvery-white except for a bright cherry-red hood that looks like a cap.

Boys or Girls?

Ordinarily, male and female Oranda goldfish look much the same. However, there are distinct differences between the two during the breeding season.

When in spawning condition, male Oranda goldfish develop white tubercules all over their head and gill covers. When viewed from above, the female fish will appear fatter than the male if she is bearing eggs.

How Big Do Oranda Goldfish Grow?

Orandas are quite large fish, growing to reach between six to seven inches long at maturity. However, the variety can grow much larger than that, depending on the individual’s genetic makeup and the conditions in which it is kept.

For example, the largest reported Oranda goldfish was called Bruce. Bruce was bred at the TungHoi Aquarium in Hong Kong, where he reportedly reached a massive 15 inches in length!

What is the Lifespan of the Oranda Goldfish?

The average lifespan of the Oranda goldfish is between ten and 15 years. However, it’s not uncommon to find specimens that survive for 20 years or even more, provided that their aquarium is well-maintained.

Are Oranda Goldfish Easy to Keep?

Although Oranda goldfish are undoubtedly popular, they can be more challenging to keep than other fancy goldfish varieties. 

Orandas are quite delicate, having a lower tolerance for poor water quality and requiring slightly warmer water than flat-bodied goldfish types. Also, the fish’s wen or hood can be prone to damage and infection resulting from debris, fungi, and bacteria accumulate amid the folds of tissue. For both those reasons, Orandas are not considered suitable for life as outdoor pond fishes.

Like all goldfish, Orandas are gregarious fish that do best when kept in small groups of similar types.

Oranda Goldfish Origins and Background

Orandas, like all fancy varieties of goldfish, are not found in nature. 

According to recent genetic research, it’s thought that all modern goldfish are descended from a species of wild carp, Carassius auratus gibelio. These Prussian or Silver Prussian carp originate from Central Asia, specifically, Siberia, where the fish live in slow-moving or stagnant water bodies, such as ponds, ditches, lakes, and rivers, feeding on algae, plant matter, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and the like.

For hundreds of years, carp were raised as a food source. However, in the 1500s, the first ornamental goldfish were traded to Japan by Chinese breeders, arriving in parts of Europe in the 1600s and the US by the 1800s. 

Large, flat-bodied, brightly colored goldfish were originally kept as ornamental pond fish. However, fancy rounder-bodied varieties were later developed by Asian enthusiasts to be displayed in glass vessels as status symbols in the homes of the wealthy. 

Of those early fancy goldfish pioneers, the Oranda is one of the oldest known variants. Today, there are no fewer than 125 different varieties of fancy goldfish!

Oranda Goldfish – Care Guide

If you’re considering buying a beautiful Oranda goldfish, you’ll need to know how to care for it.

Tank Size

We recommend that you begin with a 20 or 30-gallon aquarium for one Oranda goldfish, increasing the tank size by 10 gallons per additional fish. Although fancy goldfish are not the most energetic swimmers, they do produce lots of waste. A large tank helps to dilute the waste and reduces the number of water changes you need to carry out.

Never be tempted to overstock your tank, and remember just how big these guys can get! If the fish don’t have sufficient space, their growth may be stunted, and health problems can result.

Oranda goldfish need well-oxygenated water, so choose a long tank with plenty of surface area to facilitate good gaseous exchange. Never keep a goldfish in a bowl. The tiny surface area that a bowl provides is not sufficient for one of these oxygen-hungry fish.

Water Parameters

Oranda goldfish are coldwater fish, preferring a temperature of between 65° to 72.° Fahrenheit. The pH range should be between 6.0 and 8.0, with a water hardness of 5 to 19 dGH.

Filtration

All varieties of fancy goldfish are dirty fish, so you must have an efficient filtration system in your aquarium to keep levels of toxins in the water to a minimum.

Oranda fancy goldfish are typically poor swimmers, and they don’t cope well with strong water movement. So, buffer the flow from your filter outlet with plants or decorations, or cap the outlet pipe to redirect the current. 

Carry out weekly partial water changes and use an aquarium vacuum to deep-clean the substrate to remove fish waste, uneaten food, and general detritus that would otherwise pollute the water.

Decoration

Oranda goldfish swim in all areas of the water column, but they are clumsy swimmers! In some specimens, the wen grows so large that it obstructs the fish’s vision, making it even more difficult for them to see where they are going.

Be careful not to clutter the tank with too much décor that your Oranda could bump into. The Oranda’s fleshy head and trailing fins are easily snagged and injured by protruding rocks and pieces of driftwood, so these items are best kept to the perimeter of the tank or omitted altogether.

The best choice of substrate is coarse, medium gauge gravel that gives the tank a natural look and is relatively easy to clean.

What About Plants?

Although including some living plants in your aquarium is a good idea, as they help to oxygenate the water and remove nitrates, Orandas tend to dig around in the substrate, uprooting plants in the process and nibbling on tender leaves, too.

If you prefer, you can use silk plants, securely anchored in the substrate with plant weights. However, plastic plants are best avoided, as these can have sharp edges that may harm your fish.

Diet and Nutrition

Oranda goldfish are omnivores, so they will eat pretty much any kind of flakes, pellets, and frozen foods that you offer.

However, all fancy goldfish can be prone to gastric problems if fed exclusively on dried food, as that can cause constipation, bloat, and swim bladder issues. You can prevent that from happening by feeding your fish twice a day, offering only what they will eat in a couple of minutes. 

Choose pellets or flakes that are specifically formulated for fancy goldfish, and include a portion of meaty protein in the form of frozen bloodworm, brine shrimp, or similar every other day or so. That helps to keep the fish’s digestive system working correctly and can prevent problems.

Goldfish love live foods, too, but that can be a way of accidentally introducing bacteria and parasites into your tank, so frozen foods are preferred unless you set up your own brine shrimp hatchery.

Tank Mates for Oranda Goldfish

Oranda goldfish are highly social, peaceful creatures that do best when kept in a community of their own kind or with other fancy goldfish varieties.

Goldfish are also very efficient scavengers, spending much of their time rooting through the gravel, searching for scraps of food. For that reason, you don’t need to add other cleaning crew members apart from a few large snails to help keep the algae levels down.

Fish to Avoid

Be careful of including small temperate water species such as White Cloud Minnows or Mosquito fish in your tank as they could make a meal for a large Oranda. It’s a similar story with shrimp, which usually finish up as lunch for the goldfish.

Oranda fancy goldfish are poor swimmers that cannot compete for food with faster goldfish types such as Comets, Shubunkins, and Common goldfish. So, as a general rule of thumb, you should avoid keeping flat-bodied goldfish with fancies.

How to Breed Oranda Goldfish

Oranda fancy goldfish are relatively easy to breed in your home tank, as long as you provide the right conditions.

Orandas are egg-layers, spawning when the water temperature increases during the spring, like their wild relatives. You can breed goldfish in groups of as few as five individuals.

Spawning Tank

The spawning tank should be at least 20 gallons, and the fish you’ve chosen to breed from must be disease-free and healthy. Many breeders like to separate the male and female Orandas for a few weeks before breeding to increase the fishes’ interest in spawning.

Set up the tank with lots of lush planting, spawning mops, and a few flat surfaces that the eggs can stick to.

Gradually reduce the temperature in the spawning tank to around 60° Fahrenheit, and then slowly increase that at a rate of 3° per day until spawning begins, usually at between 68° and 74° Fahrenheit. Throughout that time, give the fish plenty of high-protein foods, including live brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

Spawning Behavior

Before spawning, the male Oranda chases the female around the tank. Both fish intensify in color at this time. 

When the female is ready to mate, both fish gyrate alongside each other until the female is stimulated to drop her eggs onto the plants or spawning mop where they attach by sticky threads. The spawning process can go on for several hours, and the female Oranda can lay up to 10,000 eggs. 

The fertilized eggs generally hatch within four to seven days. Once the eggs are laid, you must remove the parents to prevent them from eating the eggs. 

You can feed the fry specialty fry food, followed by brine shrimp or crushed flake, once they grow large enough to take it.

Health and Disease

Oranda goldfish are fairly hardy, provided that you maintain the correct water conditions for them and give them a high-quality, nutritious diet. However, a few common freshwater fish diseases can affect individuals that are weakened or injured.

Protozoan Diseases

Ich is a common protozoan disease that appears as a rash of white spots across the fish’s body, fins, and gills. 

Other similar parasitic conditions include Costia and Chilodonella, both of which cause cloudiness of the skin.

All these conditions are easily treated by dosing the aquarium with an over-the-counter antiparasitic medication that you’ll find in your local fish store.

External Parasites

Occasionally, external parasites find their way into your tank, usually on plants or with live food.

Flatworms called flukes attach themselves to the fish’s gills or body by means of hooks in their mouths. Argulus (fish lice) are flattened crustaceans that fix themselves to the Oranda’s body, and anchor worms can sometimes be seen, protruding from the affected fish’s sides.

Again, all these parasites can be treated relatively easily with antiparasitic medication.

Fungus

If you notice white, fluffy growths on the Oranda’s body, gills, or around the mouth, that’s likely to be some form of fungus. Fungal infections can be treated with an over-the-counter antifungal product you can buy in your local fish store.

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria of various types are present in most fish tanks, only affecting fish injured or weakened by stress.

If your Oranda goldfish develops reddened areas, sores, or ulcers anywhere on its body or fins, that’s probably a bacterial infection. Shredded fins can also be caused by a bacterial infection, often due to poor water conditions.

Fortunately, most minor bacterial infections can be treated with over-the-counter antibacterial medication. 

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim Bladder Disease is a common problem for most varieties of round-bodied fancy goldfish, including Orandas.

Fish with this condition struggle to maintain their position in the water, sometimes sinking to the bottom of the tank, floating to the surface, or struggling to remain upright on an even keel. There are several common causes of the condition, although constipation is the most usual culprit.

Often, withholding food for 24 hours and then feeding the fish live or frozen food or defrosted frozen peas can alleviate the problem.

Availability

As one of the most popular varieties of fancy goldfish globally, Orandas are readily available from most pet and fish stores. If you want a particularly unusual color morph, you can usually find specimens for sale online through specialist breeders.

Prices vary from a few dollars to a few hundred per fish, depending on the coloration, form, and breeding of the individual specimen.

Final Thoughts

The Oranda fancy goldfish is a perennial favorite with goldfish enthusiasts around the world.

These fish are relatively easy to keep, provided that you give them the correct water parameters, a nutritious diet, and maintain the tank correctly. With a little effort, it’s also possible to breed Orandas in your home aquarium.

Do you have Oranda fancy goldfish? If you do, tell us about them in the comments box below, and don’t forget to share this guide if you enjoyed it!

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