Big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish: Feeding, Breeding & Complete Care guide

Big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish is one beautiful freshwater pet fish that can ever grace your aquarium. Its raspberry like head makes it undoubtedly the fancy goldfishes’ crowning jewel.

Its immaculate friendliness and the wen (the large hood on its head) sums-up the attractiveness and appeal of this goldfish with a big head. 

Historically, it has its origin in East Asia; particularly China. In fact, “the flower of the water” is what the Chinese called this goldfish Oranda owing to its flower like head growth.

Though its relation is the wild carp, Oranda fancy goldfish however is not as hardy as the common goldfishes. This is partly because of weaknesses of selective breeding, from which it results. As a result therefore, they are very delicate and need very good care; both in ponds and aquariums.

Big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish Appearance:

This is one easily identifiable goldfish. One of the first questions to many buddying aquarists is, how big do Oranda goldfish get?

Well, Oranda goldfish size is about 6-7 inches. However, some do outgrow that size courtesy of great genetics and care.

“Bruce”, the 3-pound goldfish; a.k.a the Red Oranda:

This is a classic case of a bigger than 7” Oranda goldfish. This big head Oranda fancy goldfish records a staggering 14.6” and gunning for a place in the Guinness book of records.

Additionally, besides size, the uniqueness of its other features makes it easily identifiable. These unique features include:

The Body and fins:

It has an “egg or bubble” shaped body. This is contrary to the slender shape by most common goldfishes. Uniquely, its length is almost half of its large belly’s width. This shouldn’t be read to mean bulky because they aren’t.

Further, it has closely packed large scales. This subsequently forms clearly visible, pristine beautiful patterns.  

The uniqueness of fancy goldfish oranda doesn’t end at the body shape. It extends to the fins too. All its fins are paired except the dorsal fin only.

The paired caudal fin forms a quadruple point like; such a beauty it is. It’s too large; almost 3 quarters of the fish’s length.

In a still position, the expansive tail fin fans about to hold it in position.

The tail fins vary on individual Orandas; like an elegant train trail. The tail shapes include ribbon tail, broad tail or even fan tail.

Well, there are many other fishes that outdo it in swimming; it’s a poor swimmer. However, this big head goldfish, Oranda fancy goldfish is quite a spectacle in its in-water movements control; thanks to theses paired fins.

The wen:

The fleshy and warty cap/hood that develops with age on its head, also referred to as the crown is undoubtedly its most distinct feature. No wonder the loose reference of the “big head goldfish” fancy goldfish.

Till after about 4 – 5 months, the wen signs are not visible. Actually, its full prominence in growth is only after 2 – 2.5 year mark. It may take a little longer in others though.

In some Oranda Fancy goldfish, the thick and rough textured wen only “perches” on the head; in others it covers the entire head and face.  An overly grown one will definitely interfere with its vision.

NOTE: The wen possesses no nerves. As a result and painlessly to the fish, it can be trimmed. However, you’d need to sedate it for comfortable grooming.

Variations in color:

You are excused if orange and yellow are the “only” colors in which you know this big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish in.

Just a note though, the diet has an influence on the coloration of Oranda fish.

Their scales and metallic sheen combine very well to give that glitzy radiant effect under light.

That said however, now know that there are other color variations. These Oranda varieties distinguished by color include:

Black Oranda Goldfish:

It has all the other features of your Orange/yellow Oranda goldfish. The only difference however is that the whole of it body is black.

Well, the wen may be somewhat light (just a little though) and may spot some small strains of orange.

Red Cap Oranda Goldfish:

While the body is all white, the cap is bright red and a little smaller than other Orandas. As a result, this makes it outstanding.

Big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish
Blue Oranda Goldfish:

Individual goldfish could fall anywhere within the range of bluish-gray to deep blue color. However, it’s not uncommon to sight some orange, black or even white spots contrasting the blue background.

Behavior and temperament of Oranda fancy goldfish, the big head goldfish:

Orandas are some of the most graceful, passive, charming and peaceful fancy goldfishes. Above all, they are not aggressive even with other tankmates.

Instead, they’re very sociable and deserving of all the attention they can get. And why won’t they rightly deserve it with all that beauty?

Well, it’s a slow swimmer but still sufficiently energetic to still find them swimming all-round the tank. Mostly though, it’ll be digging/scavenging on the substrate or nipping on the tank plants.

Hiding is not one of its habits though.

Don’t be shocked that they can be intelligent enough to even recognize you. And how do you tell they note and appreciate you? Always look out for those cute gulping sounds for acknowledgement response.

What is the Oranda Goldfish lifespan?

With impeccable and proper oranda goldfish care, don’t be surprised when its lifespan stretches to about 10 – 15 years. This however is only possible in an aquarium whose water quality and all requisite parameters are always optimal. In short, it’s a long time commitment but with subsequent beauty in reward.

That said though, it can still hit the 20 year mark in a pond just as in the wild.

Ideal Fancy Oranda goldfish care:

The inherent hardiness makes it one of the easiest fish to care for. However, you’ll do yourself a huge favor if you first educated yourself on its critical needs. Besides, be ready to create a conducive and healthy habitation thereafter.

While its relations are the hardy carp family, being a fancy goldfish as a result of selective breeding compromises it hardiness. As a result, it is a little delicate hence needs good care.

In the care package, you have to get the following right;

Ideal Oranda goldfish tank size,

As stated elsewhere here-above, Oranda fancy goldfish is not your best swimmer. However, that’s not to say they don’t deserve ample room to swim. Besides, in comparison with all other fancy goldfishes, Orandas grow ginormous (extremely huge/large). Therefore they need big enough room. This will effectively facilitate its growth to full potential possible.

That said, a 20 gallons tank is viewed as good enough by a good number of aquarists. Out of experience however, a 30 gallons tank is much better as a minimum size instead.

NOTE: For additional fish, the applicable rule of thumb in this case is 10 gallons tank’s size increase for every fish.

Here, the point is that the water volume should be sufficient to effectively dilute the waste deposited in water. Subsequently, this helps to minimize the number of water changes.

Finally, the “best” tank should preferably have a large surface area.

You may ask, WHY? Well, a large surface area is ideal for ensuring sufficient oxygenation of the water. Therefore, prefer a shorter but longer tank with a bigger surface area exposure than a taller and narrower tank.

Oranda goldfish tank setup and tank parameters?

Getting the tank size right for your desired fish stock is just the first step.

The next thing is maintaining the water quality and the right parameters. Remember the Orandas are not overly hardy to withstand poor and untenable water conditions. Their sensitivity makes them not too forgiving if exposed to non-optimal water parameters.

The table below summarizes what you must observe to make the tank healthy and livable;

Oranda goldfish temperaturesWater pHWater HardnessSunlight Hrs/Day
66 – 72° F5.5 – 87 – 18dGH8 – 10 Hrs

Whatever you do, ensure your big head pet goldfish, the Oranda Fancy goldfish is not under anxiety and stress causing conditions. Stress undermines the immunity of your fish.

Consistent water temperatures and water quality eliminates stress on the fish. As a result therefore, do the following to avoid water quality deterioration;

  • Have a good filtration system in your aquarium. It’s critical to ensure the filtration guarantees proper and sufficient water oxygenation.

Besides keeping the water cleaning, it would greatly help if it has biological, mechanical as well as chemical filtration abilities.

  • Regular water changes (weekly). The change should be limited to not more than 25% of the mature tank waters at every change.
  • For tank aesthetics, live aquarium plants are great. However, the plantation shouldn’t be too dense lest you inhibit Oranda’s free swimming space.

As a result therefore, the plants should be sturdier and small for less obstruction.

Tasteless or very course leaves and strong roots are some of the plants attributes. The best of such plants is the Anubias plant.

Further, aquarium’s plants (live or artificial) and all other tank decorations like rocks and driftwoods MUST not have sharp edges/points.

  • For safe and ease of barrowing and scavenging on the substrate, the substrate too shouldn’t have sharp objects. These would inflict injuries when your pet fish is aggressively digging on it.

Therefore, go for smooth and rounded substrate; say like large pieced sand and/or pebbles.

What is the ideal Oranda Fancy goldfish food?

It is primarily omnivorous. In short, it can feed on almost all if not all things feed to it. There is particularly a direct correlation between their color and their feed quality. In short, quality feeds for brighter colors of your fish.

Most importantly though is, a balanced, nutritious, healthy and wholesome diet ensures your pet is healthy and increases its lifespan. Luckily, the easy to find fresh, frozen, freeze-dried and flake foods for fish form the “staple” diet.

Properly prepared vegetables are a great source of the vital roughage. In addition, for the much need proteins, brine shrimp, daphnia and bloodworms are recommended; live or frozen.

NOTE: Live feeds have a challenge of being potential parasite carriers. Caution is thus encouraged.

To feed your pet fish, a practical feeding schedule would be great. Just pick a particular time of day and it will amazingly get used to it.

Noteworthy is that, feed only what the fish will finish in less than 3 minutes. This will eliminate chances of over feeding. This reduces chances being overweight.

Its digestive system is too delicate and as a result, gets easily clogged-up. The industry feeding standard is feeding about 3% of the fish’s body size. 

In addition, over feeding results to swim bladder disease; fish swimming on its side.

NOTE: Upside down and/or sideway swimming isn’t always as a result of swim bladder. Surprisingly, it can also be caused by an overly overgrown hood/wen.

Further, uneaten food remains are prime pollutants interfering with the water quality.

Excess feeding decaying in the tank results to toxic pollutants like ammonia and nitrite spike in the aquarium. This must be avoided because even the slightest levels of the two can be fatal.

Further, remember they are not fast swimmers. This therefore makes it difficult for Oranda goldfish to compete for food if tanked with fast and aggressive swimmers.

In addition, the hood overgrow inhibits its vision even for foods. Subsequently, if not properly matched in a community tank, your big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish may starve.

Well, Orandas like to glean and scavenge on the substrate. This is good for clearing excess feeds especially in a community tank.

However, excess digging on the substrate could indicate they are not having enough food.

How to breed Oranda Fancy goldfish:

Orandas are pretty easy to breed. This is after about 2 years, by which time, they hit puberty. Just pair them or keep them in a group, say of 5-6 members.

Having a female with more than one male is ideally the best for optimal success.

However, make a replica breeding tank of the main tank with a mature and properly cycled tank’s water conditions. To this breeding tank, introduce a spawning mop or a fine-leafed plant. Why? It’s because eggs will be laid on these leaves.

You may consider a sexes separation a few weeks to breeding. This builds spawning interest in them. While separated, they can be treated for diseases and/or parasites. This ensures a healthy fry thereafter.

Well, prior to introduction into the matured breeding tank, live foods which are high in protein are fed to the fish. This is important for conditioning and inducing them to spawning.

Another spawning inducement trick is temperatures tinkering. Lower them to say 62° F and then slowly raise them by say 2 – 3° F per day. This you should do till the optimal temperatures for spawning of about 70 – 76° F.

Just so you know, early in the morning is when spawning takes place. Well, be advised that it might take several hours. Immediately thereafter or soon enough, take all of them back to the main tank. It’s to avoid preying on the eggs.

Up-to 10,000 eggs can be laid.

Thereafter, mostly in about 3 days or so, the eggs hatch. However, some delay to even 6-7 days.

At this stage, your fry can only feed on liquid foods; particularly infusoria is great to start them off. Thereafter, graduate them to baby brine shrimp. This is of course after a bit of growth and ability to take in bigger sized feeds increases.

Notably, during breeding, the color on both sexes intensifies. Further, the males develop white bumps/grains on both head and gill covers. It’s one of the few ways and time to tell the female from the males.

Well, if keen enough and adequate familiarity, you still can tell them apart. The males have smaller and thinner bodies unlike the females.

What are the common diseases?

As earlier stated, stress and anxiety highly compromises the immunity of the fish. Poor water quality is the number one cause of stress.

The most common disease courtesy of un-optimal water conditions (particularly water temperature and pH balance fluctuations) is Ich (a protozoan disease).

Other diseases are cloudy eyes, swim bladder, bacterial and fungal infections, protozoa as well as parasites. This does in no way mean goldfish are not hardy though.

The wen and other body crevices/creases are particularly prime areas where food remains and tank debris can easily be trapped in. Subsequently, they start decaying and harboring other harmful bacteria. The eventual result is causing infections on your pet fish.

A spike of ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank has serious and potentially fatal ailments results.

Yes, diseases can be treated and an eventual full recovery by the fish attained. If only one fish is afflicted, it can be separated from the rest for treatment. However, it’s still possible to treat all tank occupants in the main tank if need be.

You are however cautioned to be careful on the medication as some can kill the beneficial bacteria. Additionally, filtration system’s carbon can be removed because they are known to have medication components absorption affinity. This renders the treatment ineffective.

In addition, aquarium salts are great in adding electrolytes in the water. These increase response to treatment.

In summary, most of the diseases and infections are particularly very preventable by effective water filtration and timely water changes.

What are the best Oranda tankmates?

A few things to consider before putting Oranda fancy goldfish in a community tank are:

  • Orandas are non-aggressive: Tank them with equally social, peaceable, non-aggressive and docile fish for easy schooling. These include tetras, leopard plecos and Pearl Danios.
  • They are slow swimmers:  They being not fast swimmers inhibit their ability to compete for foods vigorously against fast swimming tankmates. Therefore, egg-shaped fishes like them are the ideal tankmates. They shouldn’t have to compete for food because they can’t.
  • What is the permissible bioload (the demand on the filters to adequately process nitrogen from decaying foods and waste in the tank)?

Because of their sensitivity, messy tankmates aren’t the best because the water quality is prone to easy deterioration.

Ultimately, the tankmates must have compatible water conditions.


The tank conditions must be optimally healthy always for this big head goldfish, Oranda fancy goldfish. Its delicateness and sensitivity will not sit well with poor water quality.

Armed with this info’ and care pack, color your tank with these magnificent and easy on the eye big head goldfish, Oranda Fancy goldfish.

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