Oranda Goldfish – Care, Lifespan, Size, and Other Fascinating Facts

Did you know that there are approximately 200 different species of goldfish?

But what are the different goldfish types, and how do you know what kind makes the best pet for your child? Well, unless you have a fish pond in your garden, we reckon that one of the varieties of Fancy goldfish makes a great choice.

In this guide, we focus on the Oranda goldfish. Here, you can learn where these beautiful fish came from, why they make such great pets, and how you can provide your Orandas with the care they need.

Oranda Goldfish – Overview

Scientific Name:

Carassius auratus auratus

Common Name (species)

Oranda, Tigerheads, Tiger Goldfish, Bubblehead Goldfish

Family

Origin

Captive-bred hybrid, no wild populations

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Activity

Moderately active foragers

Lifespan

10 to 15 years, although can live longer

Temperament

Peaceful, highly social fish

Tank Level

Swim in all areas of the tank

Minimum Tank Size

20 gallons

Temperature Range

65° to 72° Fahrenheit

Water Hardness

5 to 19 dGH

pH Range

6.5 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Needs powerful filtration but a buffered flow

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Moderate, egg-layers

Compatibility

Good community fish but may eat very small fish and invertebrates

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Tends to dig, so can uproot plants. Sometimes eats tender shoots and leaves.

Origins

Modern goldfish are all descended from the wild Prussian carp of east Asia, where they were once the most commonly eaten fish species in China.

The wild carp, known as “chi,” were mostly silvery-grey in color. However, every so often, a genetic quirk would throw out a fish that was bright red, yellow, or orange. Wild fish of that color didn’t last long, quickly being targeted and eaten by predators. However, in the ninth century, Buddhist monks began to “rescue” those colorful chi and keep them in ponds where the fish were safe from predators.

Soon, breeding colorful chi caught on, and more varieties were produced, each with different coloration, form, and finnage. By the 1500s, China was trading these “goldfish” with Japan. In the 1600s, goldfish made their way to Europe, reaching the U.S. by the 1800s.

Oranda Fun Facts … 

The Oranda goldfish, Carassius auratus auratus, is one of the oldest fancy goldfish variants.

The Japanese call these goldfish Oranda Shishigashira, and there’s also a calico version that’s known as Azuma Nishiki.

Orandas are extremely popular with collectors and breeders right across Asia, where these fancies are also called Tigerheads or Tiger goldfish. Prize specimens can sell for hundreds of dollars!

Natural Habitat

There are no wild populations of Oranda goldfish. In fact, all the fish you see for sale in pet or fish stores are captive-raised.

However, the Prussian carp, the goldfishes’ distant relatives, are still found living in Central Asia, inhabiting slow-moving waters such as lakes, ditches, ponds, and rivers. Here, the fish feed on insect larvae, plant matter, algae, and small crustaceans.

Appearance

Like all Fancy goldfish, Oranda goldfish have egg-shaped bodies. Their scales are large and round and can be matte or metallic.

The fish’s tail fin (caudal) is long and split. When the fish is hanging still in the water, the tail spreads out into a gorgeous fan shape. Hence, the Chinese call the Oranda, “flower of the water.” All the other fins are paired, creating a symmetrical appearance.

Oranda Goldfish
Image Source: wikimedia.org

But the Oranda’s most distinguishing feature is its big head, topped by a cap of fleshy tissue called a wen. Juvenile Orandas don’t have the wen, which doesn’t appear until the fish is a few months old and continues to grow and spread until the fish reaches two to three years of age.

Colorful Creatures

Oranda goldfish come in a huge variety of beautiful colors, including:

  • Orange
  • Red
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Calico
  • Red and white

There’s also a variety of Oranda called the Redcap. These fish are completely silver or white with a vibrant, scarlet hood, resembling a bright red cap.

How Do I Tell the Sex of My Oranda?

Male and female Oranda goldfish look pretty much identical. However, you can tell the difference between the boys and the girls during the breeding season.

Take a look at your fish from above. If the fish is female, she will appear wider and plumper than the male. Male Orandas produce white pimples called tubercles over the gill covers and head.

Size

So, what size will your new pet goldfish reach?

Oranda goldfish can grow to reach around seven inches in length when fully mature. However, if kept in a very large tank and provided with an excellent diet and optimum conditions, Orandas can reach a much bigger size than that.

Large Oranda Goldfish in aquarium

For example, the biggest Oranda ever recorded was said to be a 15-inch specimen that his breeders christened Bruce. That amazing fish was bred in Hong Kong at the TungHoi Aquarium.

Life Expectancy

Oranda goldfish typically live for between ten and 15 years, although there are reports of some fish reaching an amazing 20 years or even more.

Compatibility and Tankmates

Oranda goldfish are peaceful fish that can do well in a community tank of other coldwater species.

Tank Mates

Like all goldfish species, Orandas are highly social creatures that thrive in a community of their own kind or with similar types of fancy goldfish.

Fish to Avoid

Orandas are clumsy swimmers, partly because of their body shape and partly because of their wen that can obscure their vision if the tissue overgrows the fish’s eyes. For that reason, it’s best not to include fish that are fast swimmers, such as Comets or other varieties of flat-bodied goldfish that would outcompete the slower Orandas for food.

Also, large Orandas will readily make a meal of very small fish, such as Mosquitofish or White Cloud Minnows. Although snails are usually quite safe, invertebrates such as small shrimp will also be on the Oranda’s menu.

Feeding

When choosing food for your Oranda goldfish, always buy the best quality food that you can afford. Cheap brands usually contain lots of padding that’s of little value nutritionally and can even harm your fish.

What to Feed Your Oranda Fancy Goldfish

Oranda goldfish are omnivores, needing a mixture of plant matter and meaty protein in their diet to thrive. So, a balanced mix of flakes, goldfish pellets, frozen and live foods is a good diet for your fish.

Feed to Prevent Digestive Problems

However, round-bodied goldfish are prone to digestive problems, such as Swim Bladder Disease, bloat, and constipation if fed a diet of only dried food.

Heap of dry complete multi-ingredient flake food for daily feeding of all ornamental fish

To prevent that, feed your Orandas only specially formulated fancy goldfish pellets or flakes. Also, I find that by including a portion of frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia, I can keep my fancy goldfishes’ digestive system ticking over properly.

Can I Feed My Oranda Goldfish Live Foods?

Yes, you can feed your Oranda goldfish live foods.

However, be very careful that you only give your fish live food that’s come from a reputable source. Also, you should remove the food from the water it comes in before offering it to your fish. Live food can come with hitchhiking parasites and bacteria included, and you don’t have that in your tank!

For the same reason, you should never take live foods from nature.

One safe way of providing your Oranda goldfish with live food is to set up a home brine shrimp hatchery if you have the time to devote to that.

How Much and How Often to Feed 

Goldfish are extremely greedy fish, and they will keep on eating and eating, often to the detriment of their digestive system.

I recommend that you feed your fish two to three times daily, only offering only what they will eat in two to three minutes. That said, you may need to allow your Orandas a little extra time, as the wen can make it tricky for the fish to see and locate their food.

Tank Requirements

Tank size

If you’re starting off with one Oranda, you can get away with a tank of 20 to 30 gallons. For every additional fish, you’ll need to add a further 10 gallons. Don’t be fooled by those cute inch-long fish that you see in your local fish store. Those little guys grow quickly, and you could easily find your tank is overstocked and too small.

Not only do these fish grow pretty large, but they also produce copious amounts of waste. A larger tank helps to dilute that waste and makes maintaining a healthy environment easier.

Goldfish need water that has a high concentration of oxygen, so always go for a long aquarium rather than a tall one; a long tank has a greater surface area that allows good gaseous exchange. Do not keep goldfish in a bowl! A bowl doesn’t provide sufficient surface area and is far too small for goldfish.

Tank Setup

Oranda goldfish don’t have specific requirements when it comes to the tank setup.

Substrate

All goldfish like to dig and rummage around in the substrate, hunting for scraps of food. So, choose smooth medium-gauge gravel for the substrate in your Orandas’ tank.

Decoration

Orandas are not good swimmers, and their eyesight can be compromised by the wen, so always leave plenty of open swimming space for the fish.

When choosing décor for your aquarium, avoid rough rocks and sharp pieces of wood that could injure the Oranda’s wen and trailing fins, and reserve large items of decoration and ornaments to the perimeter of the tank.

Plants

Goldfish are keen diggers, and they tend to eat tender plant leaves, too. However, you can use hardier species of plants and anchor them securely in the substrate with plant weights or keep the plants in clay pots.

Habitat Requirements

Filtration

Close-up betta filter baffle
Image Source : Green Jean

Goldfish are very messy creatures that produce a lot of waste. So, you need a very efficient, powerful filtration system to remove the toxins the fish produce from the water. An external canister filter system or powerheads can do the job efficiently.

You’ll need to buffer the flow so that the Orandas aren’t stressed by the water movement. My filter has an adjustable flow outlet, which is handy, but you can also use plants or solid decorations to redirect the water current away from your fish’ swimming area.

Goldfish need well-oxygenated water, so adding a bubbler or air stone can be beneficial.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

Oranda goldfish are coldwater fish, preferring a water temperature of between 65o and 72o Fahrenheit.

The water pH should be in the range of 6.0 to 8.0, with a water hardness of between 5 and 19 dGH.

Lighting

Aquarium

Goldfish don’t have specific lighting requirements, so any good-quality LED lighting unit will be fine. Adjust the light levels to suit the live plant species you’ve chosen.

Tank Maintenance

To keep the water super-clean and free from toxins, carry out 30% water changes every week, and deep-clean the substrate with an aquarium vacuum to remove uneaten food, plant debris, and fish waste.

Clean the viewing panes clear by using an algae magnet, but don’t remove all the biofilm and beneficial bacteria that live there, as that adds to the effectiveness of your biological filter.

Once a month, rinse the filter media in tank water to remove sludge and keep the material clear so that the water flows through it unhindered. Replace old filter media periodically, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Setting Up The Aquarium

Gather together all the items you need to set up the goldfish tank, including:

  • Canister filtration system or powerhead
  • LED lighting unit
  • Plants
  • Medium-gauge gravel substrate
  • Smooth rocks, driftwood, etc
  • Water conditioner

How to Set up the Aquarium

  1. Rinse the gravel under running water to remove dirt. 
  2. Put a few inches of the substrate into the tank. Set an upturned bowl on top of the gravel. 
  3. Install the filter and heater, but don’t turn them on. 
  4. Fill the aquarium with dechlorinated tap water to an inch below the fill line, slowly pouring the water over the upturned bowl so that you don’t displace the substrate. 
  5. To start the nitrogen cycle, the water must contain a small amount of ammonia. Add a handful of the substrate from an existing setup, a little fish flake, or a few drops of pure ammonia to the dechlorinated water. 
  6. Wash your décor to get rid of dust, and arrange the items in the aquarium. 
  7. Remove damaged or dead stems and leaves from live plants if you’re using them, and plant the stems in pots or in the substrate, allowing plenty of space for growth and spread. 
  8. Turn on the heater and filtration system, and allow them to run 24/7. Live plants need between eight and ten hours of light every day for photosynthesis, so switch on your lights if necessary. 
Nitrogen Cycle Diagram

Before adding any fish, you must allow at least ten days for the tank to fully cycle. To ensure that the water is safe for fish, test it to ensure that the levels of ammonia and nitrites are zero and nitrate levels are below 20ppm. 

If the levels are too high, all you need to do is allow a little more time and keep re-testing the water.

Health and Disease

Oranda goldfish are pretty hardy, although they can be prone to the most common fish diseases, especially if the tank is not kept clean and the water quality pristine.

The Oranda’s wen can be prone to developing infections if it is damaged or if fragments of food become wedged between the folds of flesh.

Signs of Good Health

Oranda goldfish are busy fish, constantly foraging among the plant bases and in the substrate. These greedy fish are always ready for a feed, too!

These are social fishes, happily spending time with their tank mates and swimming in all areas of the tank.

Red Flags

Red flags that could indicate health problems brewing for your Orandas include:

  • Not eating
  • Hanging at the surface, unable to swim down
  • Sitting on the bottom of the tank
  • Skin damage, sores, ulcers, or red areas
  • Rubbing the body against the substrate or tank décor
  • Inability to remain swimming upright
  • Not socializing with tank mates

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is an aquatic parasite that causes White Spot disease. Affected fish flick or rub against objects in the tank. Tiny white dots appear all over the fish.

Raise the tank temperature to 82o F for a few days, and treat the tank with Ich medication.

Flukes

Flukes are parasites that attach themselves to the gills or body. Affected fish secrete excessive mucus and try to dislodge the flukes by rubbing against objects in the aquarium.

Treat the tank with an antiparasitic treatment.

Fungal infections

White, cottony growths on the head, body, gills.

Quarantine affected fish, and dose the tank with antifungal medication.

Bacterial infections

Sores, ulcers, and red patches over the body and head infections.

Treat the water with antibacterial medicine.

Swim Bladder disease

Fish cannot remain on an even keel, sinking or floating randomly, struggling to remain upright. Commonly caused by constipation but sometimes bacterial infection.

Starve fish for 24 hours and feed meaty protein, live food, or a skinned pea.If ineffective, treat the tank with a Swim Bladder disease medication.

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is an aquatic parasite that causes White Spot disease. Affected fish flick or rub against objects in the tank. Tiny white dots appear all over the fish.

Suggested Action

Raise the tank temperature to 82o F for a few days, and treat the tank with Ich medication.

Health Issue

Flukes

Symptoms or Causes

Flukes are parasites that attach themselves to the gills or body. Affected fish secrete excessive mucus and try to dislodge the flukes by rubbing against objects in the aquarium.

Suggested Action

Treat the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White, cottony growths on the head, body, gills.

Suggested Action

Quarantine affected fish, and dose the tank with antifungal medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Sores, ulcers, and red patches over the body and head infections.

Suggested Action

Treat the water with antibacterial medicine.

Health Issue

Swim Bladder disease

Symptoms or Causes

Fish cannot remain on an even keel, sinking or floating randomly, struggling to remain upright. Commonly caused by constipation but sometimes bacterial infection.

Suggested Action

Starve fish for 24 hours and feed meaty protein, live food, or a skinned pea. If ineffective, treat the tank with a Swim Bladder disease medication.

Breeding

Oranda goldfish are egg-layers, and they’re quite easy to breed in a home aquarium setting. Generally, the fish spawn in the spring when the water gets warmer. Goldfish are happy to breed in small or large groups.

Choose healthy fish to breed from, and condition them by feeding a diet that contains plenty of live food. Professional breeders often separate the male and female fish for several weeks beforehand to increase the fishes’ interest in breeding.

Spawning Tank

You need a spawning tank of at least 20-gallons.

Provide lots of bushy plants, some spawning mops, and flat stones for the eggs to adhere to.

When the fish are ready to begin spawning, reduce the temperature in the tank to around 60° Fahrenheit. Gradually, raise the temperature by 3° per day until the Orandas begin spawning. That usually happens when the water temperature is between 68° and 74° Fahrenheit.

A small catfish ancistrus stuck to the glass of the aquarium near the thermometer

Throughout the build-up to spawning, continue to feed the fish a live diet of daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.

Spawning Behavior

As a prelude to breeding, the male fish will chase a female around the aquarium. The fishes’ colors become more vibrant and intense at this time.

Once the female is receptive to the male’s advances, the fish will gyrate alongside each other until the female drops her eggs. The process can continue for several hours, during which time the female Oranda can lay as many as 10,000 eggs.

The Eggs and Fry

As soon as the eggs hatch, you must remove the parents before they eat the eggs.

The eggs usually take around four to seven days to hatch. Once the fry is free-swimming, feed them commercially prepared fry food and infusoria, followed by finely crushed flake and baby brine shrimp once the babies are large enough to eat it.

Availability

Girl With Sales Assistant Choosing Goldfish In Pet Store

You can buy Oranda goldfish from most fish and pet stores, but buying online from a dealer is the best way to go if you want a particularly unusual color variation.

Oranda goldfish vary in price from a few dollars per fish to several hundred, depending on the quality, color, and finnage of the specimen.

Product Recommendations

  • Air stone and pump
  • Algae magnet
  • Aquarium (minimum size 20 gallons)
  • Aquarium vacuum
  • Books on keeping tropical fish
Beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Aquascape.
  • Filtration system
  • Medium-gauge gravel
  • High-quality fancy goldfish flakes and pellets, frozen foods
  • LED lighting unit
  • Living plants (optional)
  • Smooth rocks, driftwood
  • Water conditioner/dechlorinator

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to caring for the Oranda Fancy goldfish.

Do you have some of these delightful fish? What fun name did you choose for your Oranda? Did you breed them successfully?

Tell us in the comments box below, and don’t forget to share our guide if you loved it!

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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