Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Allure of the Japanese Ranchu ~ 魅力蘭壽

 ~ 丹·布朗

Sometimes, a change in perspective is what it takes to see the light.
~ Dan Brown

Most who had visited Japan would be awed by its unique culture that has been very successful in conjugating tradition with modernization. Albeit Japan's technological prowess, various ancient trades and art still persist in the traditional way, reverberating the candid contrasts of old and new in the Japanese's lifestyle and society.

Goldfish aquaculture in Japan is no exception. Long before the advent of glass tanks, goldfish were kept in ponds and naturally, they were bred to be appreciated from the top view. Today, many Japanese goldfish varieties are still bred for their top view aesthetics with some of the important goldfish competitions in Japan still assessing the goldfish from the top view.

Jikin Club Competition in Japan :
How beautifully the jikin waves its tail like the petals of
a flower from the top view!

Ranchu Competition in the AJRS (All-Japan Ranchu Show)

The most famous of all Japanese goldfish is of course the Ranchu. In fact, the Chinese Ranchu was created in the early 80's when the Japanese Ranchu was introduced into Fuzhou to cross with the Chinese lionhead. Ironically, it was the Chinese Ranchu that first took the goldfish world by storm. The Thai breeders have also imported the Japanese ranchu and selectively bred it for appreciation in the side view profile. The Thais, being very skilled in ornamental fishes, and inevitably these ranchu become very popular too and are widely known as the Thai ranchus (side view appreciation).

Top view profile of a Chinese ranchu:
head is more rounded, body more olive shaped,
peduncle thinner and tail are not so widely open

Top view profile of a Japanese ranchu:
head is squarish, thick back, streamline body and wider tail spread

Why are the original Japanese ranchu not as well known as their cousins in China and Thailand? The main reasons being that in Japan, ranchus were mostly bred by closed groups of Japanese hobbyists in ranchu clubs, hence the lack of commercialisation until the age of the Internet in the mid 90s. Another reason is that most hobbyists are not accustomed to appreciating goldfish from the top view because of the popularity of keeping goldfish in glass tanks.

What then is the allure of the Japanese Ranchu? For a culture passionate about the refinement of anything, the aesthetics of dynamics is but only a natural course in the Japanese goldfish art and culture. The Japanese ranchus are bred not only to look beautiful from the top view but also to swim beautifully. They also seem to exhibit very different temperament from the Chinese and Thai ranchus; Japanese ranchus are extremely hyperactive like playful puppies. This could be due to their structure that was bred for swimming aesthetics.

The most endearing moment for the Japanese Ranchu keeper is a shoal of cute ranchus wagging their tails and sexy peduncles in anticipation of their meals. Their active temperament, stocky peduncle, broad back and wider tail spread are a real joy to be appreciated from the top view ponds. Many people who started keeping the Japanese ranchu soon realised that they have open up a whole new perspective in enjoying the goldfish hobby.

Always therapeutic to watch a group of healthy ranchus feeding

Tips of starting the Japanese Ranchu hobby:

The Japanese ranchu have been closely inbred and isolated for more than a century in Japan and are very sensitive to gill bacterial and gill flukes. A wrong footing in the hobby can prove very painful and disastrous for the newbie. However, the Japanese ranchu can be very easy to keep if we are discipline and observe some basic rules.

1) Reliable source
Get your Japanese ranchu from a source who has quarantined and acclimatized the ranchus to local conditions for sometime. Healthy fishes should be eating well and swimming actively.

2) Do not mix Japanese ranchu with other types of goldfish or ornamental fishes.
Avoid mixing Japanese ranchu with other types of goldfish or ornamental fishes from other continents. The Japanese ranchus are not well immune to new pathogens carried by fishes from other continents due to a century of isolation. Mixing them is not impossible but usually prove very tricky. The story of all Japanese ranchu wiped out in a matter of days after mixing with other varieties of goldfish is all too common. 

3) Learn to diagnose their sickness before they deteriorated.
With early diagnosis and applying the correct treatment, the chances of recovery is very high. For such hyperactive fishes, low appetite, listlessness, parking on the bottom or floating near the water surface are tell-tale signs of sickness. The good news is, the majority of the sickness can be tackled with salt and anti-bacteria treatment in the early stages of development.

4) Be familiar with the basics and salt treatment techniques
Perform the salt treatment whenever you mix fishes from different sources or different ponds. Salt treatment should be used as a routine maintenance too. The salt treatment article which I shared in an earlier post has received very favourable feedback from hobbyists who tried it out. They observed that the fishes have improved in health and growth.

Close up.. focus on the tail and the thick peduncle

5) Water quality and feeding
A good water change regime based on your stocking and feeding should be observed by the ranchu keeper. In essence, learn to feel and read the water quality by studying the behaviour of your ranchus. Water change regime will vary according to the stocking, feeding and environmental factors.

In general, for goldfish keeping in Singapore, water change should be at least 80% to 90% once every 7 days. The frequency of water change also depends on your stocking, feeding and weather conditions. it is highly recommended to buffer the water with baking soda because we have very soft municipal water. The guideline is one tablespoon of baking soda for every 25 US gallon, which should buffer the water to maintain a stable pH above 7 for a week or so under normal conditions. 

Either a bio-filter system indoors or the natural wall algae and green water in the outdoor can be used to maintain the water quality. The later is preferred as goldfish are essentially outdoor fish that do best with ample sunlight. Some advance hobbyists have also successfully used the high output T5 lightings or the metal halid to groom wall algae and natural green water algae to maintain good water quality indoors.

6) Well balanced diet
In competitions, winning ranchus are ranked in accordance to the sumo titles. Sumo wrestlers may be big and fat but they are not the average fat man; they are very strong and very agile - thanks to the nutritional food and a strict exercise regime. It is the aspiration of the Japanese breeders to develop their ranchus like sumo wrestlers. So it is the same for the ranchu - big, strong structure nurtured with good exercise and a well balanced diet.

More frequency of lighter meals is preferred to a few heavy meals. Keep them well fed, but not too indulged so that they will have plenty of exercise foraging the pond for food. The older second year (nisai) and third year fishes (oya) also do not need as aggressive feeding as do young yearlings (Tosai).

7) Start small
Black Baby Ranchu (BBR)
Patience is very important in the art of the Japanese ranchu. Learn the hobby from basics with the cheaper grade ranchu. Black baby ranchu (BBR) are also good to kick start the hobby. Investing in the hobby too aggressively without a good understanding of the ranchu would likely kill the hobby.

Eventually, most hobbyists do not need to acquire very expensive or very high grade ranchu to enjoy the hobby. Most are just happy with the average ranchu for general appreciation.  Like many other hobbies, it all depends on how we want to play, there are different grades of ranchu to satisfy players of all levels and expectations.

You may contact me for any queries regarding the Japanese ranchu or any type of goldfish. No purchases is required.

Recommended readings:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Facebook! ~ 面簿

~ 托馬斯·杰斐遜

In matters of style, swim with the current;
in matters of principle, stand like a rock

~ Thomas Jefferson

What is the big fuss now that I am on facebook? It is nothing so cool nowadays since facebook has been around for a loooong time and almost everyone has one.  

The main reason that took me so long to embrace this social media is that it can potentially expose too much of my privacy that I am comfortable with. Apart from the fish hobby that I have always been happy to share in public, I would still prefer to keep my personal and family life private. Well, I reckon it is a matter of control which means first I must understand what facebook can do.

So it took me a long time trying to understand it, and by the time I decided to jump onto the bandwagon, my younger generation told me that facebook is no longer the coolest thing in social media :'(

Nonetheless, I think facebook is a powerful tool to reach out to more people and ideal for sharing short and candid updates, especially now that I could not blog as often as I would love to. My blog, GoldfishArtQuatics will remain as my favorite platform to share more lengthy thoughts. Thanks for being very kind and supportive of my blog all these years!  

and by the way,
the Vermillion Goldfish Club is also now on facebook: 

Friday, August 7, 2015

SG50 - Happy Golden Jubilee Singapore!!! 新加坡金禧年

~ 匿名

The reason most people give up so fast is that they look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come. 
~ Anonymous

Just last week, I discovered one of my pearlscales in a breeder pond has developed a little crown head wen. This is no coincident as I had created my new variety from the Chinese crown pearlscale, what that's more interesting was that the head crown phenotype had been inhibited for quite a number of years before it resurface again. 

In recent years, I have been focusing on the tail structure and pearl scaling and have not paid very much attention on the head crown. My thought was that once the finnages and scaling are stable, I can cross them with the crown pearlscale again to re-construct the head crown.

I was really elated that after 10 years, my dream creation with all the characteristics I aspire - pearl scaling, dragon eyes, pompon complete with head crown has finally congregated in a single fish. A rare specimen that exhibits good finnages and complete balance. It is an example of how aesthetics can be harmonized with structural balance. I cannot describe how happy I am :))

This weekend, on the 9th of August 2015, Singaporeans will be celebrating 50 years of our national building. How timely that this fish has arrived for another good reason for celebration. I am proud that this new variety has been acknowledged by a few goldfish dignitaries in China. I hope that my crowned dragon eye pompon pearlscale will be known as a goldfish uniquely made in Singapore :))

In this Golden Jubilee year for Singapore, my wish is for fellow Singaporeans to forge a stronger sense of national pride and identity based on the virtues of trustworthiness, perseverance, efficiency and hard work.  

Happy 50th birthday Singapore!!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Aquarama 2015

快樂是: 想的、説的、做的形成一致。甘地
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Herewith in this blog post are videos of some goldfish in the Aquarama 2015 goldfish competition. To view the pictures of all winning goldfish entries, please check out the Vermillion Goldfish Website featured article on Aquarama 2015.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bountiful Harvest ~ 豐收年

A beautiful Lunar New Year
red packet with auspicious goldfish



Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

~ Abraham Lincoln

Star stud 2015

The first quarter of the year is usually my busiest due to the Ranchu breeding season. This year, the first Ranchu spawn happened on 10th of January. On one hand, I am happy that the spawn sizes are bigger than previous years, but on the other hand, I am worried about the time and effort required to raise these unprecedented size of Ranchu spawns. 

Though I had managed much larger spawn sizes with my Pearlscales, raising the Japanese Ranchu requires far more time and effort. So I stopped after collecting 8 spawns as I do not want to bite more than I can chew. The lack of space and food can easily stunt very young fries, rendering irreversible effects on their future development and all efforts will go down the drain. 

Another seed pair of my bloodline
red -male, red-white - female
Quick snap of a spawn A this morning
This is a very exciting Ranchu year for me not only for having the spawn sizes that I have always craved for, but also my most important seed male that sired a few spawns is one with big and strong frame, a feature not so common for male fishes (at least for my Ranchu bloodline). I had always thought that it was a female when it was younger due to its size and broader features. This fish had also done me proud by winning the East Torishimari (4th position) in the OARS Tosai class. With better seed parent fishes and more spawns, I hope to do better than last year.

Spawned: 24th Jan 2015
Video: 17 Feb 2015

Tomorrow (19th February) marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the Goat and an extra long weekend to enjoy the festive holidays. This also means that the daphnia supplier will be on holiday too. This is one of the most challenging and busy period for me to ensure that the fries have alternative food sources and continue to grow at a steady momentum. It is a strange dilemma every Lunar New Year that I always look forward to the family reunion and festive mood, and yet also hope that the holidays will be over soon so that my precious BBRs can once again feast on their favourite daphnia. 

I would like to wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tora Oranda (Tiger Oranda) ~ 虎紋獅


Your friends are a reflection of yourself.
~ Elizabeth George

3.5 months old Tora Oranda

The calico goldfish (五花) was created by crossing a transparent scale (透明) goldfish with a metallic scale (正常鱗) goldfish. As such, the calico goldfish spots some hard metallic scales over matte-transparent scales. In some cases, metallic scales congregated in clusters and create interesting reflective effects. Hence, the term reflective scales (反光鱗) are also used broadly nowadays. 

A pair from the same spawn having sky-blue patches and red head wen

Calico goldfish has very random and varied combinations of black, orange, yellow, brown, red, white and even sky-blue coloration, likened to a painting canvas decorated with impressionistic hues of intermingling colours. It is no doubt, my favorite colour pattern!

Another of same spawn with lesser black markings

My recent outcross of the Chinese calico oranda with the Thai black (nacreous scale) oranda yields various different and interesting colour patterns within the same spawn. Many of which spotted the tiger-liked decorations with orange base and black markings. I hope some can grow real big and majestic like a tiger ;-)

I am also selling some excess fishes in my sales blog.

Breeding the TVR

Breeding the TVR
Breeding and maintaining a bloodline of the Japanese TVR since 2003.

Goldfish Artwork

Goldfish Artwork
Marriage of 2 of my passions - Goldfish and Art.

Creating a New Variety

Creating a New Variety
My dream of creating a new variety of goldfish in 2006 has proven to be more than just an impulsive fantasy.

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