About Ryukin Goldfish – The Hunchback of the goldfish world

Around 300 years ago, a descendant from the fantail goldfish was brought from China to Japan through the Ryukyu Islands, from which the breed got its name, Ryukin. This breed was further bred selectively in Japan to develop the characteristics that we know of today.

So what is it that is so special about Ryukin Goldfish? Hint: It is the hunchback of the goldfish world.

About Ryukin Goldfish


The Hump

Well, I hope you have already guessed that it is the hunched back that makes Ryukin goldfish different from the other goldfish breeds. Actually, the hunched back is a hump on the back, behind the head. As this is the most distinguished feature about Ryukin goldfish, having a more pronounced and higher hump translates into higher quality.

High Quality Ryukin

The Head

The head on this goldfish breed is more triangular and pointed in shape. It does not have any head growth or wen that are popular in breeds such as Oranda or Ranchu goldfish.

In fact, Ryukin has a head that looks too small for its body… kinda remind me of Gru from the “Despicable Me” movies.

The Body

This goldfish breed has an egg-shaped body. It has a deep body, almost as deep as the length of its body, and has a rounded belly. This type of body shape makes Ryukin goldfish a slow swimmer, and prone to swim bladder disease. That is why it is recommended for it to be kept with fellow tank mates that are equally slow in swimming. Else, it will be difficult for it to compete for food.

Adult Ryukin goldfish can grow more than 6 inches in body length, so yes… they do get huge. They need to be provided with ample living space to thrive.

The Fins

The dorsal fin on a Ryukin is usually high and with caudal fin (the tail) that is one or two times the length of the body. All its fins come in pairs, with the caudal fin available in different styles – three lobes, four lobes, ribbon styled, butterfly styled, etc

Remember I mentioned that the higher the hump, the better quality it is deemed to be? Well, imagine a very good quality Ryukin with a high dorsal fin… that makes it a very vertical and tall goldfish!

Ryukin does come in long-finned and short-finned varieties. An example of a short-finned Ryukin is as the picture below:

Short-finned Ryukin
Photo by Lawrencekhoo, CC BY

The Colors

One of the reasons why goldfish is so appealing to enthusiasts is the variation in colors. Same goes to the Ryukin goldfish.

It is available in many different type of colorations and scales (metallic and nacreous). They are available in solid colors of red, chocolate, green and blue among others, and in bi-colored of orange/white, red/white and a very rare black/white. They are also available in tri-colored and calico.

Ryukin Goldfish

About Ryukin Goldfish – Summary & Care

  • Originated from: China, but further “enhanced” in Japan
  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Freshwater or Saltwater: Freshwater fish
  • Temperature: 18-24°C (Coldwater fish)
  • Fins Type: Paired fins
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Food: Pellets, flakes, live food, veggies and fruit
  • Adult Size: Body length can go more than 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years or more

In my opinion, Ryukin goldfish or any goldfish in this matter should not be considered as easy fish to keep. Why?

Bioloads: Goldfish has huge bioloads as they are messy eaters and produce a lot of wastes. This is made worse with us over-feeding them because they look “oh so cute” and hungry all the time. So keeping the fish tank water in good condition is very important and here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure that your tank is fully cycled as you need those beneficial bacteria to help you clear those toxic substances.
  • Do regular fish tank maintenance!
  • Do not over-feed. Feed them in small amounts and remove any uneaten food after a few minutes.
Photo by Kate Brady, CC BY

They grow big: They may look small now but goldfish can grow very big. The Ryukin can grow more than 6 inches in body length in adulthood, so you will need a big tank (at least 20 gallons for the first goldfish and 10 gallons each for subsequent ones). Keeping them in a small space is not only cruel, but will cause a lot of health problems for your goldfish.

Birth defects: The egg-shaped bodied goldfish like Ryukin are prone to swim bladder disease. One of the cause is on what and how you are feeding them. So…

  • Feed them a variety of good quality food so that they can get the nutrition that they need. Again, do not over-feed.
  • I recommend feeding them food that sinks, so that they do not need to gulp at the water surface. Gulping too much of air may cause complication to their swim bladder.

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8 Replies to “About Ryukin Goldfish – The Hunchback of the goldfish world

  1. Hello Alex. I like the look of the Red spotted Ryukin goldfish. I also like to yellow spotted ones too. I know what type of gold fish to get now.

    1. Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the comment. Hope the article is able to provide you with the information about Ryukin, goldfish in general, and their care.

  2. What a cool little fish! I love your pictures and learned so much about this variety of goldfish. My brother got a “run of the mill” goldfish from a fair as a kid and did you know we had that little guy for over ten years!?? His name was Goldie (very original I know…lol) and my brother loved him so much. As he got a little bigger my brother would up the size of the tank and eventually Goldie was swimming in a huuuuge aquarium by himself and absolutely loved it! He had castles and coral and everything a fish could possibly want. I never knew (until Goldie) that a goldfish could ever live that long! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jennifer for the sharing.

      Goldfish can live very long if being taken care of properly. I have read news that there was a goldfish that lived to be in its 40s! Impressive!

  3. Thank you so much for the information. I think I have been overcrowding my tank. Do I size the tank as they grow or, should goldfish have that large a tank when they are small?

    1. Hi Tara,
      My recommendation is to get the biggest fish tank that you can even from the start. Note that the guideline is at least 20gallons for the first goldfish and 10gallons each for subsequent ones.

      However if that is not possible, you can start off with at least a 20gallons for 1-2 baby goldfish & upgrade your tank as they grow. No goldfish bowl, please!

  4. As you said colors look amazing and I actually searched it for amazing colors. You recommended omnivore diet, however, is there any specific food you can recommend for better care?

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