Oranda Goldfish Definitive Care Guide: Color Varieties, Size, Lifespan and More…

A sign of wealth and influence, the weirdly beautiful oranda goldfish continues to fascinate aquarists from all over the world.

Its appearance, combined with peaceful behavior, makes it a very tempting choice for fishkeeping enthusiasts. They look stunning in almost any tank and their appearance only draws you closer.

They are available in an enormous variety of colors and types.

Whether you are just starting out or have kept tanks before, the oranda goldfish is an amazing pet that will keep you happy for a long time.

Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this fish.

Category Rating
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Variable
Lifespan: 15 years on average
Size: Up to 9 inches (23cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Cyprinidae
Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, with some Plants
Compatibility: Peaceful community fish

Overview

Oranda Goldfish

The oranda goldfish (Carassius gibelio forma auratus) also known as the Red Cap is an artificially cultivated breed from the widely known aquarium goldfish (Carassius auratus).

They belong to the Cyprinidae family and are believed to have originated in China; there are even earlier mentions going back to 15th century. Its origins are still under debate, but the majority of taxonomists agree that these fish are a product of crossbreeding.

The oranda has many variations. This variety can be a bit confusing and makes people think they are different species. You only need to look through the photos in this article to get a feel for the many different variations.

On average they live for 15 years but under good aquarium conditions they can live longer. Good aquarium conditions is a collective term and few people have a good understanding of what it actually is, so take a moment to familiarize yourself with some golden beginner rules.

You should expect to pay between $35-40 for a 4 inch orandas.

Look for healthy, bright and active fish. If there are any signs of disease on any of the fish in the tank, it’s better to buy somewhere else. Be cautious and you’ll get a healthy one.

Typical Behavior

Like ordinary goldfish, orandas aren’t aggressive. They are very peaceful and loving fish that get along with other peaceful fish in the aquarium.

They are not a schooling fish but they still feel comfortable in a tank with a number of their own species.

Whilst they are not fast swimmers, like the Comet Goldfish, they are still energetic and bring a lot of life into your aquarium. You’ll find them spending most of their day swimming and digging.

They swim all over the tank and can be found at the top, as well as at the base.

This goldfish doesn’t hide a lot, mainly due to its size.

Appearance

Orandas are easily recognized by their cap (a series of outgrowths on their head). The cap is a distinctive feature of this species and is also known as the ‘wen’. This usually doesn’t fully develop until they are around 2 years old.

This species of fancy Goldfish has a huge variety in color: black, red, black with white dots, blue, black with grey gradient, red with orange-yellowish spots, white and many others.

Outgrowths cover its entire head, except for the eyes and the mouth. The size and the ‘richness’ of the cap depends on their living conditions. Their eyes are large and usually slightly protrude above the cap.

What should be mentioned is that the length of their body is only 30% percent larger than its width. That makes the fish appear very round or bubble-like, almost spherical.

Their dorsal fin is big and unpaired, the sole unpaired fin. The caudal fin is merged and resembles beautifully intertwined silk threads. It’s also very large – nearly two thirds of the body length. Their scales are large and closely packed. They form beautiful patterns that are clearly visible.

Oranda goldfish reach about 7 inches in length. However some specimens can get even larger depending on the environment they’re living in. Here are a few of the most popular varieties of Oranda Goldfish:

Black Oranda Goldfish

Black Oranda Goldfish

Their name speaks for itself. They have all the characteristic features of the breed and is thought of as a different variety because of their dark coloration. The outgrowths covering their head are usually a couple of shades lighter than the rest of the body.

Blue Oranda Goldfish

Blue Oranda Goldfish
Blue Oranda Goldfish by Humanfeather (Wiki Commons)

Also referred to as Seibungyo, or Seibun, this is another color variant of the oranda. Their body ranges in color from dark to light greyish-blue. The blue color sometimes gets mixed up with other colors, leaving only their head pristine blue.

Red Cap Oranda Goldfish

Red Cap Oranda Goldfish

Red Cap is the best-known variety of oranda. Unlike other types, their head isn’t fully covered in outgrowths, or “capped”. Instead only top and upper parts of the head are covered.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

The oranda goldfish was created through selective breeding, so they don’t have a natural habitat of their own.

However, being descendants of a wild Asian carp, we have a solid understanding of what their preferable conditions are and what the tank setup should be.

Tank Setup

Water temperature should be kept in the range of 68-71.5°F. Hardness should be in the range from 6-18°dH and pH should be close to neutral (between 5 and 8). Like other freshwater fish, orandas are very sensitive to changes in water parameters.

When choosing a substrate keep in mind their love for digging. If your substrate is sharp gravel or uneven sand, your goldfish will hurt themselves. Instead you should use nicely rounded gravel or large grains of sand.

Moderate amount of plants are allowed, but please ensure that you don’t end up with more plants than free space in the tank. They are large fish and need lots of space to swim around. If you restrict their swimming space it will make your fish feel uncomfortable and can also result in sickness as they become stressed.

If you want plants you should pick small, sturdy leafed varieties which don’t prevent oranda from swimming freely. A few plants you might consider are vallisneria or elodea.

In terms of lighting, orandas require a normal daylight cycle of 8-11 hours.

They love to eat and as a result the water quickly becomes dirty. That’s why there should be a good filtration system. Oxygen-rich water is important for any freshwater fish, and a strong aeration system is also needed. This will keep the water oxygenated and clean.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Each oranda goldfish will need a minimum of 20 gallons. Ideally, try going a little bigger than that if possible.

Tank Mates

Oranda Goldfish Care

Even though orandas are peaceful and friendly fish you still need to be careful about which fish you introduce to the tank.

When choosing tank mates, the main things to keep in mind are their size and temperament. Small fish should be crossed off the list right away as they can be swallowed.

The best option is keeping a group of orandas, or keep them with other species of Goldfish.

If you decide to get other species, make sure they can be kept under the same conditions (especially temperature). If you don’t want to keep a few of the same species, the next best option is similar sized Cyprinid fish or catfish.

For example, peppered catfish, leopard pleco or catfish from Ancistrus will all make great tankmates. They will also help keep the tank clean, that’s useful if you consider oranda’s eating habits and the amount of waste they create.

They shouldn’t be kept with Neons, Mollies, small Barbs, Bettas, Gouramis, Cichlids and Platies. All of them may nip at the oranda’s fins, which only traumatizes fish.

Keeping Oranda Goldfish Together

You can keep these goldfish together, just make sure they all have enough space.

What To Feed Them

Oranda Goldfish Swimming

Their diet is very similar to that of the wild carp. They are omnivores, mostly feeding on insects, small crustaceans and plants. They are quite greedy and will eat anything that they can fit in their mouth.

Oranda goldfish will gladly feed on all sorts of both live and dry foods. It is important to often include a vegetable like salads or spinach. If you don’t want to make it yourself, get combined foods. They’re easy to find and there should be plenty in your local pet stores.

The quality of the food directly correlates with their color; the better the quality, the brighter the fish.

They love to eat and easily gain weight. That’s why you should be considerate with their diet to prevent them becoming obese.

Keep an eye out for any signs of overfeeding. If you spot your fish swimming on their side, skip feeding that day, let it rest and in the future give them smaller portions. Young orandas should be fed twice a day, adults once a day.

Overfeeding often leads to problems with digestive system and should be taken seriously. When you don’t pay enough attention, it ends up being lethal for your fish. If you’re unsure whether the portion size is right, keep in mind that an average portion should be around 3% of the fish size.

On the other hand, if not fed frequently enough they will start digging up the substrate looking for food.

Oranda Goldfish Care

Oranda Goldfish Appearance

Orandas are freshwater fish and have a lot in common with many other goldfish in terms of care. As mentioned earlier, they are sensitive to water parameters so weekly water changes of 25% are needed.

When orandas are kept with smaller active fish, you will find their fins are nipped and even possibly bitten off. This can cause fin rot, which is a very unpleasant sight.

Ignoring the suggested water temperature range can result in something called white spot disease, or Ich. This disease is caused by small parasites and is usually introduced to the aquarium on any second-hand equipment or new fish.

When fish have been contaminated, small white grains start to appear all over the body. Warmer temperatures only increase rates of parasite growth. This should be monitored with chemicals and medications which you can find in most pet shops.

In some goldfish varieties, outgrowths can sometimes start obstructing their vision which prevents them from eating properly. If that’s the case, visit your local pet store and ask for any supplements that may prevent the growth of their cap.

Don’t try to cut them off yourself. The best option is to visit the pet shop and look for medications that may help.

Red cap orandas in some regions are also susceptible to cap infection such as bacterial infections.

Breeding

Oranda goldfish can be bred in home aquariums and over the past few years it has become even more popular. Many people now breed them at home and then sell them online.

All varieties reach puberty at around 2 years. For breeding you need a tank of 15-25 gallons. Before breeding, put the female and a couple of males in separate tanks and give them live foods. It is recommended that you have some plants in the aquarium and round substrate.

You don’t usually need to do anything else to prepare the tank.

Spawning usually takes place early in the morning and lasts for several hours. After that move all the parent fish to another tank.

Fry will be able to independently move and feed after the incubation period (2-3 days).

At first they can be fed infusoria, but as they grow, the size of the food should be increased. There are also specialized foods for goldfish fry available – take a look online or in your local pet store.

Is The Oranda Goldfish Suitable For Your Aquarium? (Summary)

The oranda goldfish is a wonderful example of just how much diversity is out there.

They are a large but peaceful fish and prefer to live with similar tank mates. It’s not an easy fish to care for but it is worth the effort.

There are all sorts of health complications associated with poor care, and that should always be kept in mind. However, they have a pretty simple diet and can be easily fed at home. This aquarium fish is one of the most exciting and beautiful out there.

What is your experience with Goldfish? Let us know in the comments section below…

Robert Woods Portrait
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.

4 Comments

  1. I love my Orandas. I have two that I believe to be female. They are between 1-2yrs old and about 6-7 inches long. They have such a personality and can differentiate me from other people. They will actually shy away from strangers but come to me readily to be fed from my hand.

  2. I’m new to Fishkeeping … have 6 goldfish and 2 plecos
    … My tank is still under a year old .. unfortunately have lost a few fish but the ones I now have seem to be doing just fine .. it’s a big tank .. 350 litres and am considering adding a couple more fish .. I came upon your site by accident but am so glad I did so .. have been reading up on all the info .. love this site and looking forward to reading many more articles ..

  3. Hi , My oranda is facing a constipation problem will you please advise me what would I do to treat this disease.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Abdul, constipation is usually caused by too much fibre. Do you feed your Oranda a varied diet rather than just flake foods? Thanks, Robert

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