Thursday, 12 December 2013

4 Weeks of Winter Rest, So Far

Another week has passed and there has been nothing notable to report regarding the ranchu. They all continue to rest, and look well, with water temperatures dropping to a controlled 6.8 degrees C at night and rising to about 7.5C on milder days.

Today, just out of interest, i decided to run a couple of pond water tests. Given that the ranchu are in unfiltered ponds and have now been in the same water for for a few weeks, i was keen to see if my confidence in their current condition was valid. I wasnt disappointed, nitrite and ammonia tests both returned negative readings which was reassuring.

Today i also spent time studying the development that each of my ranchu went through this year, comparing the same fish as tosai and nisai. There were obvious noticable changes in size but also interestingly real improvements and noticable changes in (what i believe to be) important areas of the ranchu's form. 

Whether the changes be genetic or through grooming it will certainly give me something to consider when selecting spawning pairings and sorting fry next year.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wrap up Ranchu, Arctic Blast Incoming!

A day at home today gave me the opportunity to check the pond and the ranchu over in the daylight. A little wall algae waste had accumalated but this was syphoned out easily.

The activity inspired the ranchu into investigating what was occurring. Whilst not ideal, it did give me the opportunity to get a closer look at the condition of each of them. They all look well, which is reassuring, given that they have now spent a couple of full weeks below 10 degrees C, with the ranchu barely moving at all, which is still a little weird as at any other time it would signal an issue.

The pond has been sitting at around 7c, with the current outside conditions and the lid keeping temperatures just above what the thermostat is set to. We have colder conditions forecast and i may lower the thermostat a little further. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Freeze Begins for the Ranchu

Just a quick update today. As you can see from the picture above of my old pond, freezing night time conditions have now arrived. Temperatures in the last couple of nights have dropped to -2 C, which has been the first real test of the ponds setup and a good indicator as to how the pond temperatures may be affected.

Things look positive. Thankfully, everything seems to have stood up to the challenge, with the thermostat reading the desired set temperature (7.5 C) late last night and again early this morning. 

No change to speak of with the ranchu, although a couple do appear a little more active than i would expect. One female is very inactive, which i must get my head around as being normal given the conditions, but it is still a little unnerving. I'm sure when my ranchu numbers increase i will be less fearful of losses at this time if year. 

When the bubble wrap arrives (tomorrow) they will be wrapped up and shaded, which should help reduce activity levels.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Time to put my feet up?

Today i made some final preparations to the ponds, with the upcoming winter in mind. I finished cleaning out the other ponds and made some repairs to the lids that were needed. I have some rolls of bubble wrap ordered that i intend to throw across all the ponds to help insulate them further. 

I've been sneaking a peak at the ranchu to check on their condition, although its important not to disturb them too much during the resting period. It is somewhat unnerving, the thought of not attending to, changing water, or feeding the ranchu for several weeks. Todays inspection reassured me though, as the water conditions appear to be fine with no waste visible. Plus, with no further food going in, in theory, there is no reason water quality should deteriorate significantly.

I have been studying ranchu a lot recently, and will continue to during the winter, as i begin making plans for the upcoming season. The "perfect" ranchu is made up of many elements and the winter provides a great opportunity to think about ways in which the development of each element could be optimised through grooming. 

Although this season resulted in no spawning i have learnt a great deal about my ranchu. I have been able to see more about the genetics of each fish, as they grew and developed as Nisai, which will be valuable when selecting fry. I am very confident this year will be more successful.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Winter Resting Period Begins

As hoped, the ponds have continued to cool nicely this week and have now dropped below 10 degrees C (50F). This week i will get them down a little further (below 8 degrees C) and will aim to hold them there for several weeks. 

The ranchu are now less active, particularly after dark, although all appear well. The winter period provides a great opportunity to study the ranchu. They are motionless for long periods and in lots of water, making it a good opportunity to assess the ranchus structure and balance clearly.

I hope that there will be very little to write about for several weeks as the ranchu go through their resting period. Rumours are that we could see snow next week, and that we could have the worst winter for 60 years, with snow right through to March. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Frosty Weather Hits the UK Ranchu

In recent days the UK has had colder weather including the first frosts of the autumn/winter. The ranchu are beginning to slow down a little i think, although i've not had as much time to observe them during the daytime recently, due to work commitments.  

Feeding has continued to be reduced as the pond temperature slowly drops. The digital thermostat is reading around 12 degrees C. By the end of next week, i hope to have the pond down to below 10 degrees C, by which time the ranchu will no longer be being fed. Very soon the ranchu will be moved into the pond that they will spend the winter period in. Before then i will be giving the ponds a thorough going over to ensure they will be insulated as best possible.

The all japan ranchu show 2013 has now passed and the quality of ranchu on show was incredible. Winners can be seen in full glory below, enjoy!!

Oya class

Nisai class

Tosai class

Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Japan Ranchu Show 2013 (AJRS 2013)

The hurricane force winds that we were expecting moved across the country about 30 miles south of us here in the Midlands. Thankfully, the worst we saw was a few gusts and lots of rain.

The temperature is now quite cold, particularly at night, with temperatures around 5 degrees C. The ranchu ponds are continuing to cool-down and the fish are on reduced feeds but continue to look well and active.

This weekend sees the 58th All Japan Ranchu Show 2013 arrive at Tokyo Park. Some of the best show ranchu in the world will be shown.

I look forward to studying the best of Japans ranchu for 2013.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Batten Down the Hatches!

If we are to believe the forecasts the UK is set to see some stormy weather over the weekend and into monday, with very high winds expected. This could reak havoc in the garden but hopefully the lids will stay on the ponds and will protect the ranchu from a free flying fence panel!

Temperature has been quite mild for the tine of year and the ranchu ponds are still sitting at around 14 degrees C. It is rumoured that we are meant to be dye a winter from hell this year, with snow and freezing conditions possible from November through to February. It is certainly time for me to begin lowering the pond temperatures. 

The ranchu have remained active and look really well, even though the temperature is a good 8 degrees C lower than it was only a couple of months ago. 

It has been interesting to see how the ranchu have all developed this year as Nisai. One of my least favourite fish when i first got them has grown on me considerably and i am excited to see how it develops as an Oya. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Ranchu heading into Winter '13

In the last few days the weather in the UK has cooled considerably and we've consistently had daytime temperatures of 10-15 degrees, with night time temperatures below 10 degrees C.

The pond has kept the ranchu at a steady temperature of around 15 degrees C.

The ranchu are all looking really well and even in the cooler water, they are still very active. I have observed that recent conditions in the ponds appear to have resulted in increased wen growth on all ranchu. 

There are many factors to consider, but it is the first time that i have seen obvious wen growth across the whole group at the same time. I guess with all the ranchu nearing Oya age, and perhaps maturity, natural development may become less extreme and changes through grooming become more obvious.

I will now begin the slow process if reducing the pond temperature for the wintering that the ranchu will endure. The cool down will take at least a month and so by starting now, the ranchu should be at the winter temperature by mid/end november. I will hope to keep them at 6 degrees C until at least late Jan, when i will start warming them very slowly once again. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Japanese Ranchu for sale UK

Japanese ranchu for sale UK

For anyone in the UK interested in the traditional ranchu culture, finding ranchu for sale, of Japanese lineage, can seem challenging. I wanted to run through a few options available to you.

Firstly it is almost guaranteed that your local pet store will not sell them. You may find ranchu for sale in better equipped aquatics shops, but they are likely to have been bred to a very different (commercial) standard. If you have ambitions to breed or show quality "top view" ranchu then you should look elsewhere. By acquiring a knowledge of the characteristics expected in good ranchu, you will soon be able to see the important structural differences between "top view" quality and commercial fish.

Joining a goldfish club, or one of the few ranchu clubs in the UK, may offer a way of acquiring fish, as well as gaining useful knowledge from other ranchu enthusiasts, though some clubs have strict rules regarding the distribution of fish among its members.

Previously, clubs were the only route, or a private import costing thousands of pounds. Thankfully, for the lone ranger out there that would rather find there own path, like i did, ranchu can now be found for sale in the UK more easily. At the right times of the year (often spring and autumn), independent ranchu enthusiasts and breeders, like myself, have ranchu for sale. This offers an affordable way for anyone to get involved in the traditional ranchu culture.

Assuming this winter goes to plan, i expect to have ranchu available early next year. All spawns will go through a very strict selection process from as early as 2 weeks post spawn. This ensures the best fry have the optimum conditions to develop in, asap. It is therefor wise to express an interest with any breeder well before the start of the upcoming breeding season if you are interested in buying ranchu from particular breeders.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Autumn is upon the ranchu

I recently finished making some minor modifications to the ponds, most notably creating more level bases to the ranchu ponds. Doing this has improved the drainage and cleaning procedure for me when the ponds are syphoned. The liners all came out and 50mm polystyrene sheets were placed across the bases. The soil beneath the sheets was levelled, with a minor slope created from back to front, which now pushes water to one end of the pond when emptying. At that end a small, deeper, drainage section was cut out of the polystyrene. The results have been great.

The weather is meant to turn colder over the next few days, with daytime temps set to go from around 18 degrees C to around 10 degrees C. The reds of autumn have come out in plants around the garden in the last couple of days and i'm now thinking this might be a good trigger for beginning the wintering process of my ranchu.

Today i learnt something promising about the effectiveness of my ranchu pond lids. I have two ponds full of water, the one the fish are in, with a heater, has sat with the lid open today. It has been a cool overcast day, the unheated pond (without fish) has had the lid shut and when tested was 3 degrees higher than the pond with ranchu in. The heater has also been on at times to maintain the set temp meaning the lids are adding at least 3 degrees C to the ambient water temperature.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

An Overdue UK Ranchu Post

It has been many weeks since my last post when i was in the process of building my outdoor ranchu ponds. They are now pretty much complete. As you may expect there have been a number of modifications and improvements already made to them and I still a few more planned. On the whole though, they are performing tremendously and my small group of ranchu are looking well.
Outdoor Ranchu Ponds in the UK

Temperatures have been far easier to control, particularly during brighter days when the ponds haven't warmed up like they did in the conservatory. The lids also appear to be doing a reasonable job preventing heat loss with a single 200 watt heater currently all that is required during the night intermittently to keep temperatures stable, even with evening temperatures below 10 degrees C at times, which is promising for the  approaching winter. The ranchu have been kept between 15 and 20 degrees C, are feeding well, active, deeper in colour and looking healthy.

Japanese Ranchu enjoying UK Weather

With the winter fast approaching it will very soon be time to start the gradual cool down. I hope to make it a very gradual process this year, and expect to have lowering temperatures well on their way by November. With the extra ponds now available i also intend to separate the sexes over the winter this year.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Ranchu Pond Build Begins. Turning Japanese!

With the glorious weather set to be with us for a little while now, a couple of days ago i set about constructing my new ranchu setup. My plans were to have 3 ponds, which will function primarily as "growing out" ponds. I have seen many examples of concrete ponds used across Japan

I intended to build the ponds out of railway sleepers and then line them. They would be much cheaper than custom made fibreglass ponds, easier to build than blocks and concrete, removable, and still the right dimensions (with ranchu in mind), strong and attractive enough to look at (which was an important factor in getting the nod of approval from the misses!). The only downside being that the water will have to be pumped or syphoned out rather than simply pulling a plug.  However, with a spare pond always available, water changes will become much faster. Move ranchu from pond A to pond B, drain pond A, refill and open a beer.

In the middle of last week the railway sleepers arrived and i set about laying them. I was hoping to get an available depth of around 15 inches in the ponds. The cheapest way of doing this was going to involve laying the sleepers on their thinnest edge, as laying them more traditionally flat was going to require twice as many layers to get the depth i wanted available.

Having laid the first layer, it became obvious to me that a second layer was going to increase the height of the ponds to a point where they may become ugly to look at. Unfortunately this meant that to get somewhere near the depth i still wanted, i would need to dig down. It took the best part of 2 days, in the hottest weather the UK has seen so far this year, but i managed to get an extra 5 or 6 inches added to each pond. 

UK Ranchu Goldfish Ponds

The ponds are 6 ft long, almost 5 feet wide and will have an available depth around 15 inches which should be plenty for my ranchu grooming. Due to the nature of ranchu ponds, temperature fluctuations are a common problem and so i will be setting about making both shaded and insulated lids to protect from the elements before any ranchu go into them.

Having decided to stick with just one layer for the ranchu ponds, it has meant that i have sleepers left over and so i will be able to crack on with plans for another pond build very soon. I intend to make a larger, deeper pond that will be the home of my seed fish. I intend to insulate it heavily in the hope i can winter the ranchu in it as well. 

The ranchu themselves are well and i'm suprised at how active they are given the temperature. The weather has been very warm for the UK, around 30 degrees C for a few days now, and the pond temperature today has risen to around 26 degrees, even being shaded! 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Errors In My Ways?

Ranchu Goldfish Photo Artwork

For the last couple of days the UK and my ranchu have enjoyed some of the warmest weather of the year. Temperatures during the day have been close to 30 degrees C. Whilst i've been around to shade the pond, and open doors and windows, this has still caused the pond temperature to rise beyond my control. Sometimes as much as 3 degrees C. With the ponds being as shallow as they are i simply see no way that temperatures can be kept more stable during the height of summer.

The ranchu remain fairly lazy, in terms of spawning behavior, although i have witnessed some chasing during the night as temperatures cool. It made me realize a flaw in my methods. By following advice to avoid temperature swings in a short period of time, the pond thermostat was often increased after a warm spring day, to prevent a full drop during the night. Inadvertently this has meant the pond has never really cooled, or spent any length of time at cooler, spring like temps and has simply increased to a summer like temperature. I suspect i have created conditions more commonly encountered in places like Singapore and Thailand where ranchu enthusiasts regularly have to cool their ponds to induce spawning behavior!

I am hopeful that i may be able to still sneak a spawning in this year, to give me something to see the year out and experiment with. I am already getting excited about the 2014 season, which i am hopeful will be much more productive as my group become Oya.

Todays image is of a ranchu taken on a new phone with a photo editing app used to jazz it up a little. Hope you like! I'm also expecting to start constructing my new ranchu ponds this week so more photos and details on those will follow.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Ranchu Goldfish Update June 2013

Female Ranchu Goldfish UK

The weather has been mild in the last couple of days and last night the ranchu began chasing much earlier in the evening. Unfortunately nothing came of it, but it was nice to see the chasing behaviour once again.

I have been waiting for a delivery of bloodworm and during this time the ranchu were being fed solely pellet for a few days. Interestingly the whilst the water quality appeared to be of better quality for longer, chasing behavior did not occur at all during this period. 

Todays image is of another female. This particular fish has shown decent growth since i acquired the group, particularly in its length which i'm please with as i like longer ranchu (though still strong). Whilst this piece has obvious weaknesses, i am pleased with the scaling and length of head, and body. 

I follow a number of Japanese breeders through various blogs, all provide a wonderful insight into the ranchu culture in Japan. I was shocked to read recently of one particular breeder who became the victim of a fish house burglary which emptied seven of his ponds of 60+ parent ranchu! A sad but clear example of just how highly valued good ranchu are in modern Japan.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Warm Weather and Lazy Ranchu!

Female Ranchu Goldfish UK

As we enter June we are forecast a spell of weather warmer than we have previously had. The evenings are now much milder and i am planning to start trying to manage the pond temperature so that it can be kept more closely to an ambient temperature.

In recent days there has been very little chasing behavior observed, even following heavy water changes. I'm wondering if my current feeding routine is perhaps a little heavy for them and the warm pond temperature perhaps a little too much for spawning conditions. Full bellies + warm water = lazy ranchu!

The ranchu in todays image is a fat female. She has a good volume of headgrowth and although its a little untidy in its growth she didn't have far off this amount of growth at 6 months, so i will be keen to see her spawned and the quality of her fry.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Further Studying of the Ranchu Development

With a recent water change i was able to get some nice photos of all the ranchu i currently have. One male ranchu in particular has provided a nice opportunity to study its development and changes in the 8 months that i have had them.

All the ranchu have seen good hood growth over the winter, and in particular under the eyes, making the head shape when viewed from above much more "shovel" like. This can be seen in the image above and is a feature in ranchu that i am fond of.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

UK Ranchu Pond Update - May '13

It has been a few days since my last entry and to be honest not a lot to write about. We have just enjoyed a very bright, warm bank holiday weekend. Temperatures must've been well above 20 degrees C and the temperature in the conservatory got higher than that. Fortunately i was at home and able to open doors and shade the pond ensuring the water temperature remained stable.

Earlier in the week i saw first hand the effects of temperature changes on the ranchu. Oversleeping meant i was late checking on the ranchu one morning. It was very bright, mild and hot in the conservatory, the temperature in the pond had increased from 22 to around 24 degrees C, in a few hours. I did what i could to prevent the increase further by shading the pond and opening doors.

As the pond temperature stabalised late afternoon, i adjusted the digital thermostat to prevent a huge drop back to what had been the normal temperature. That evening the ranchu were much less active and i checked the water temperature with an alternative thermometer. The thermostat had given an inaccurate high temp and an inaccurate low temperature, meaning a decent swing in temperature had still occurred! The following day the ranchu were still pretty lethargic.

It has taken about 48 hours, but today the temperature is back to what they have been more used to and all ranchu have been very active once again. Phew.....

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Improvements to the Ranchu Spawning Mop

Male Ranchu Goldfish

I have decided to dispose of the green synthetic spawning mop that i made for the ranchu a few weeks ago. It's not entirely clear what plastic it was made from, so to be safe, i have removed it from the pond. I have resorted to a netting material that i know to be fish safe and soft, The ranchu appear to be happy, engaging with it much more than the previous one.

All fish appear well and i am learning a lot from studying my small group of ranchu.  How they move, how they feed, and how each one acts, reacts and develops very differently. I'm now almost certain that i have an even split of 3 males and 3 females. All the ranchu have breeding tubercles on their pectorals, but i have observed milt released from 3 during handling. No milt has been seen on the others, and all appear to have protruding vents (commonly found on females).

The ranchu in todays image i'm confident is male. I particularly like the scaling and the tail size/shape. He is also a strong chaser.

Today has been a bright sunny day. The temperature in the pond increased a little this morning and the ranchu enjoyed the morning sun on their backs as they cruised around in fresh water, changed last night. As i write this at 22.38 it still feels very mild and i wonder if tonight could be the night?......

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Monitoring Ranchu Development

UK Ranchu Goldfish Growth

As April passes, the UK continues to enjoy the long awaited spring sunshine, with temperatures around 20 degrees C for the last few days. My ranchu have now also reached the ripe old age of 1 year. Having acquired the ranchu when they were around 6 months, i recently took some photos of them all to compare growth rates and development. Even with the treatments, a long winter and reduced feeding i am very happy with how the ranchu are developing (which gives me some faith in my methods!)

I intend to do the same again in another 6-12 months. I see this as a crucial part of understanding the development potential of my stock. For example, within the last 2 months, the funtan development on one particular ranchu has been tremendous, more so than on other fish in the same conditions. This fact will be considered when selecting fry from this seed, to avoid immediately disgarding ranchu with weaker funtan development that may develop in its first year.

Still no eggs, although the ranchu appear to be getting more frisky. Soft bellies, Strongly protruding anal vents, bright breeding tubercles and milt all seen clearly when handling the fish.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Japanese Ranchu in the UK finally see Spring!

Ranchu Goldfish UK

Well the weather has finally taken a sudden change here in the UK and the Japanese Ranchu enjoy milder and brighter conditions. In the last two weeks temperatures have risen by a good 10 degrees C, with temperatures close to 20 degrees on occasion. The nights are now sitting comfortably a few degrees above freezing and the ranchu appear to be responding well.

I have been observing good chasing behavior regularly, especially immediately after water changes although these had appeared to die off as the evening went on and i went to bed with little happening following mornings. However, a couple of middle of the night investigations (between 3 and 4 am!) showed the ranchu chasing more franctically in the darkness, even days after water changes, which is encouraging.

As yet though, no eggs are being dropped, the fish are continuing to fill out nicely although i am still quite unsure as to the sexes. I'm thinking that the pre-winter treatments, resulting in reduced feeding prior to hibernation, and our prolonged winter, is perhaps meaning the females aren't quite in the right condition just yet.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

DIY Ranchu Spawning Mop Upgrade

A couple of clear, bright days have finally arrived in the last few days, and with them temperatures in the ranchu house have increased significantly. The sun is now hitting the pond at various times throughout the morning, which has helped increase the water temperature over the last couple of days to above 22 degrees C. I have controlled the drop offs throughout the night as much as i can and have let the sunshine warm things up throughout the day. The pond increased a couple of degrees within 3 or 4 days, and the ranchu really appear to be responding well to it.

Last nights water change, the first since the warmer conditions, resulted in a huge amount of chasing. Males keenly attempting to direct the females towards the mops. Chasing continued for many hours into the night but nothing appeared to come of it.  Early this morning the chasing had stopped, the females were as round as last night and no eggs appeared to have been dropped. The cold evening caused the pond to drop by around 0.5 degrees C throughout the night, which i suspect has been the reason chasing has not continued early mornings so far.

I've createed a new spawning mop which is much more similar to those i've seen used in Japan and one that i am much happier with. I decided the koi spawning brush was a too stiff and i feared may damage the ranchu. I have used yarn/wool type mops and whilst they are soft, they also attract a lot of muck adn are near impossible to clean.

I finally found the type of material i had been looking for, which came in the form of an Hawaiian skirt! The material is nice and soft but durable, and can be cleaned easily. The strands were pushed through a piece of old liner, which is weighed down by a couple of pebbles. Behold my creation...

DIY Ranchu Spawning Mop

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Japanese Ranchu Spring (laughs) Update

UK Ranchu Breeder

Well Spring has arrived (supposedly!), but the Japanese ranchu continue to be surrounded by snow and the freezing night time conditions here in the UK. The ranchu are feeding strongly, growing and looking well. In particular i have observed good headgrowth on most of the ranchu over the winter. A couple of them have also grown significantly in length, in comparison with others that were bigger when i received them.

With each water change there is a little chasing occurring, but nothing much more appears to be developing from it throughout the night or early mornings. I'm hopeful that some sun and milder evenings may keep them more active. I'm watching each day as the suns trajectory changes ever so slightly, getting closer and closer to hitting the pond. I also gave the conservatory roof its first clean in 5 years, which is now letting in a ton of more light.

The pond is currently sitting at around 19.5-20 degrees C, with the ranchu being fed a mixture of pellet and bloodworm 2 or 3 times per day.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Ranchu See More Snow!

Well another two weeks have passed and the ranchu continue to endure cold, dark days, and even colder nights. In the last couple of days we have even seen more snow fall. The heaters are working hard to keep conditions relatively stable during the night. With temperatures no higher than 5 degrees C and more cloudy days forecast for the next week, a potential spawn before the end of the month is looking doubtful. It appears the season could start much later than last year, assuming it gets started at all.

It appears that other UK ranchu hobbyists are also encountering similar challenges, with current conditions not apparently inspiring much breeding activity. I am still confident that slightly milder conditions, particularly during night will get things going.

The ranchu are currently looking healthy, all filling out well, with a couple of individuals now showing more obvious female-like anal vents. They are currently receiving a couple of controlled bloodworm feedings each day.Water temperature is currently at around 19 degrees C during the day, dropping a little through the night.

The recent conditions have led me to re assess my methods for future winters and my plans for my new ranchu facility, which will be outside. The current pond contains 200-300 litres with a good surface area, is in a conservatory with a radiator and has 2 x 200W heaters, yet still struggle to keep the temperature up (and costing me ££££ in heating). Whilst more efficient heaters may help, my initial thoughts are that next year i will need to be more patient, increasing temperatures even more gradually than this year to cater for extended cold periods.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Japanese Ranchu Season Update

It's been a few days since my last Japanese ranchu entry and to be honest not a lot different has been happening. We have more snow predicted and below freezing conditions forecast yet again incredibly and so the warm day and mild nights that i've been awaiting have not come yet. The ranchu continue to chase, particularly for the first 48 hours or so after a water change.

Another water change was carried out today and the ranchu chased energetically. Spawning mops are in the ranchu pond and I hope that more chasing occurs through the night and perhaps into tomorrow when I can monitor them more closely.

The pond is holding at around 18.5 degrees C, with the ranchu being fed 2/3 times per day.

I'm keeping in mind the time of year that spawning has occurred previously. Those were the last weeks in March and with generally warmer conditions throughout the whole month. I will remain patient.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Breeding Ranchu; Lights, Camera...

A quick update on the ranchu. Today they received a full water change and temperature increase to a little under 18.5 degrees C. The ranchu became very active, on returning to the water, with a lot of breeding like behavior. What I had believed to be 3 males have been almost certainly confirmed, as they were all chasing and butting female ranchu, as well as posturing and chasing each other. Pectoral breeding tubercles also became very prominent on two of the ranchu.

I added spawning material and was out for the rest of the day. Nothing has come of it yet, although I could make out some gentle chasing occurring a short time ago in the dark and wouldn't be at all surprised to see lots of action one morning this week.

Based on this mornings activity, my 4 favorite ranchu appear to be split evenly 50/50 male/female. This is exciting as I hope it will give me a couple of different pairing opportunities which will be of great value in assessing best pairings for the future.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

UK Nisai Ranchu 23/2/13 Update

Ranchu Goldfish UK

Today we have had snow again and cold temperatures but the ranchu continue to enjoy warmer conditions. I have now stalled the temperature increases at a little above 18 degrees C and hope brighter, warmer, natural weather will trigger breeding ranchu behavior in the coming weeks.

I have observed all the Nisai closely today and they have all been very active, with good appetites, which is reassuring. I have observed noticeable growth already in the Nisai, despite lower temperatures and limited feeding so far, which is also exciting. Along with the excitement surrounding spawning,  i'm also very excited to see how the Nisai themselves develop in the coming year.

The ranchu in todays image is a piece I like very much. Whilst there are always areas for improvement, I like its general proportions and its head is strong, with great width and head growth (which it had at 6 months of age). I very much hope that this ranchu will be involved in spawning this season.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

UK Ranchu Goldfish Update

Yet another week flies by and with the temperature of the ranchu pond creeps slightly higher. This week at times it has gone above 18 degrees during when the sun has been out and i have limited the amount that it dropped again at night. This has meant that today the pond broke 18 degrees C.

Today, the ranchu perked up massively, following a water change. They were easily as active as i've seen at any time this season, with some chasing occurring. I will now slow down the controlled temperature rises even further. I may even keep them at 18 degrees now for a while and only let the temperatures increase further when brighter, milder conditions occur naturally.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Ranchu Pond Update

Ranchu Goldfish UK

The weather in the UK has been variable over the last week, with snow returning yet again, although the ranchu are happily sitting at 16-17 degrees C.

There is not a lot to write about currently, i have carried out a couple of water changes and the ranchu are perking up more and more each day. They are also all filling out considerably developing large, soft bellies even with limited feeding.

The coming weeks will certainly be filled with hope in anticipation of spawning, as the temperature continues to rise and the ranchu grow, becoming more and more active. I have looked at my records of Wakin spawns that i've grown in previous years, in a pond in the same location and under the same conditions as the ranchu this year. The Wakin spawned end of March. I am hopeful that a warm spell within the next 2 or 3 weeks will see mother nature kick in. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

UK Ranchu Pond Update 5/2/12

UK Ranchu Goldfish

Today we had a few more flurries of snow and the weather has indeed chilled somewhat but the ranchu remain warm. The pond today has neared 14 degrees C and i would say that the ranchu are close to normal activity levels. Today the main pond has been cleaned and refilled. The ranchu will remain in the smaller ponds for the next couple of days, as temperatures increase slightly further.

The ulcer on the wen of one fish is clearing each day and i suspect will be gone completely in the next couple of days. It has also been interesting to observe the funtan of another ranchu, which was damaged badly during treatment before Christmas. The spot on one side burst, then healed, but the result was a very badly shaped funtan on one side. Interestingly, the damaged funtan now appears to have regrown fully and the both sides now even once again, which is pleasing.

The ranchu in todays image is a fish that i'm excited to see grow. Whilst it is not as strong in some areas as other fish, I believe it has good overall proportions and future development potential. It is quite thin (as they all are currently), due to reduced feeding during quarantining, treatments and then the winter period, but is bulking up daily.

Monday, 4 February 2013

UK Ranchu Pond Update

In recent days, the ranchu pond has been warming constantly and gradually and is now sitting at around 13.5 degrees C. The weather here has been mild for several days, but we have freezing temperatures forecast over the coming days, although this shouldn't now be an issue. I have introduced a small amount of food and they have all fed eagerly and passed waste, which is a good sign. I have carried out a couple of partial water changes, so as not to shock them. Along with the temperature rises and the food, the ranchu have perked up considerably, moving freely, almost at full speed.

It appears that my warming was probably well timed, as one of the females was beginning to develop an ulcer of some sort on her wen. Fortunately, this appears to be disappearing with the cleaner water being introduced. The females bellies also appear to be fattening up nicely, which i hope is a good sign of egg development. Within the next few days i expect to bring together the males and females and carry out a full 100% water change.

I am lucky to have found and follow with great interest, the diaries of many Japanese ranchu breeders. It's been reassuring to read that my current methods are similar to many, with many ranchu breeders in Japan enduring similar weather conditions as we have had here in the UK. Japanese ranchu pond temperatures currently appear to be anywhere from 10 degrees C, to 16 degrees C already, with spawning anticipated before the end of February at the higher temperatures.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Japanese Ranchu; The Warming Continues

We are continuing to enjoy mild weather her in the UK and the Japanese ranchu pond has warmed up by about 1 degrees C per day, for the last few days. In the last couple of days, I've also discovered that the floating thermometers i have been using, are somewhat inaccurate at the low temperatures. Strangely they are reading accurately at higher temperatures (Apparently this is due to the liquid used and them being calibrated to operate accurately at regular tropical temperatures). The thermometers have been reading an incorrect low, somewhere in the region of 3 degrees C under the actual temperature. This means that the at its lowest the pond only reached somewhere near 8 degrees C.

Whilst I don't see this being a major issue, it has also meant that the pond is already warmer than i expected, currently in the region of 11 degrees C. With the couple of milder days we've had on the trot, the ranchu are looking as if they are slowly gaining more energy, daily. Today they took an active interest in me being around the pond, as if awaiting a feed. A couple of what i believe to be males, also appeared to show chasing behavior. Whilst i wasn't expecting to be back in the water change/feeding routine this soon, the mild weather and warmer than expected pond, means that the pond could be above 15 degrees C sometime next week and things will need to get underway. The water quality also looks to have deteriorated somewhat in the last couple of days.

In preparation, I have separated what I believe to be the females, from the males, hoping to help inspire them into breeding when reintroduced to each other, at a later date. I intend to slowly introduce some bloodworm soon, starting with one small feed each day. I will also begin the water changes as soon as the feeding begins.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ranchu Receive Milder Weather

Today the weather has warmed things considerably, ranchu included, with temperatures above 10 degrees C and forecasts of 15 degrees C at times this week. The result today, has meant the pond temperature has increased by around 1 degree C. It would have almost certainly been more had i not been at home and able to open and close doors and windows to assist in cooling the ambient temperature of the ranchu room.

Japanese Ranchu UK Breeder

The ranchu appear to have detected the change. A couple of fish in particular, I believe, have been moving slightly more decisively.With outside temperatures rising rapidly, I think the endless water changing and feeding may soon be upon me once again. Mind you, to be honest, i am looking forward to warming them up, getting them in cleaner water and feeding them once again.

I will make the most of the remaining, relatively relaxing, days.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Brine Shrimp Eggs For Sale UK

Brine Shrimp Eggs For Sale UK

Just before this weekend I received my eagerly anticipated shipment of high quality, Brine Shrimp Eggs, from the USA.

I was a little unsure of just what quantity I am likely to get through this season and so my order was on the safe side. Assuming my culling is carried out efficiently and the Brine Shrimp hatch rate is as good as I expect, I'm confident I will have ordered far more than I will use this year. I would guess that I comfortably have twice as many tubs as i will require, based on raising other varieties previously.

If anyone fears they may be short at anytime during the season and is interested in the extra tubs of brine shrimp eggs that i have, please contact me at

The snow, that so much of the UK has endured over the past few days, has cleared almost over night. Temperatures have risen from below freezing daily, to somewhere in the 5-10 degrees C range. I'm very glad that i began to start warming things up when i did, as the pond is easily rising by 0.3 C daily, on its own currently, with the bright, milder day times, that we are now experiencing. The ranchu continue to look healthy, moving infrequently, slowly, but looking comfortable at the same time. The temperature of the pond is now in the region of 7 degrees C.

The ranchu resting period has given me a lot of time that has been spent preparing equipment and developing ideas for the upcoming season. A lot of the theory seems great and i'm getting increasingly excited to see how it all plays out in reality!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Japanese Ranchu; The New Season Begins!

With the snow moving away now, we are enjoying some slightly milder weather, which has been instantly reflected in the temperature of the Japanese ranchu pond. The pond has crept up 0.2 degrees C during the day over the last couple of days, without heaters. I have taken this natural change as the time to begin very gradually warming the pond. Its crucial that i remain ahead of the natural climate curve, to avoid a mild spring day heating the pond significantly, over a short period.

It has been interesting to observe the ranchu during the subtle temperature changes. Without a doubt, activity has increased, with all fish, at times. It is fascinating to think the ranchu are so in tune, with such subtle changes. It certainly reiterates the importance of avoiding huge temperature swings, over a short period of time, or at least understanding the possible effects. Whilst a big temperature change may not show any visible damage to the fishes health immediately, who knows what effect it may have had on the ranchu in future? Particularly, with breeding in mind, its general activity levels and ability to react to environmental changes, to trigger breeding at a later date, could be effected?

With all this in mind, my plan is to raise the temperature of the pond by 0.2 degrees C every 24 hours from now on, this may increase slightly in later weeks but i hope will not go above 0.4 degrees C. My plans suggests that the pond will reach a temperature of 15 degrees C late February, which will have given the ranchu the best part of  8 weeks below 15 degrees C.

When the brighter days arrive, i will need to monitor the pond closely. The conservatory warms up fast and so will the pond. I will do what i can to limit the amount that the pond warms each day when possible, although i suspect, at times (with work commitments), this will be a challenge. I think what will be more important, will be to prevent a full, temperature swing (up and down within 24hrs). The downward swing, i will be able to control and so we may reach 15 degrees C slightly earlier.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Ranchu Update; Freezing Temperatures Continue

With below freezing conditions for several days now, the ranchu pond has now dropped just below 5 degrees and the ranchu have all slowed considerably, for the majority of the day. At times, during daylight hours, they have all been observed cruising about and all appear to be in good health.

I will begin the slow process of beginning to warm the ranchu up again very soon. Whilst this will be done very gradually, I have been waiting for acknowledgement of my brine shrimp eggs shipment to avoid being poorly equipped for any potential early spawning. I'm told the brine shrimp are now in the country and i expect them to be with me this week all being well.

Below is my brine shrimp hatchery and collection setup. It's pretty crude, but similar is design to many that i have seen used by ranchu keepers in Japan and the east. I have used Plastic bottles in the past and hatching was acceptable, even from low quality eggs, so i'm confident I will be happy, with superior brine shrimp eggs being used. The setup should provide an AM and PM hatch, giving the fry fresh artemia, day and night. (Assuming we get fry of course!)

Brine Shrimp Hatchery

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Japanese Ranchu Reach the Winter Low

Today my ranchu pond has reached the low of 6 degrees C (42 F) that I hoped for. All fish look well. A couple, almost a little too well! Although moving more slowly, two of the ranchu still cruise about for much of the daylight hours, apparently grazing on the bottom. The others are much more sedate, hovering near the bottom and moving less frequently.

I hope this is perhaps just a sign of the strength of certain fish and that they are not struggling or uncomfortable with the concept of the resting period. I also hope it will not create issues when attempting to trigger them into spawning behavior in later weeks.

I may drop the temperature a little further and see if this helps force all the ranchu to rest.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ranchu see the UK Snow

Well, it's safe to say that the British winter is in full swing, although thankfully my ranchu are fully prepared. Much of the country had snow earlier this week, with more predicted later in the week and temperatures below freezing expected for the next few days.

Thankfully the ranchu pond has already reached a low temperature of between 6-7 degrees C and so sudden changes are not really a concern at this point. The thermostat is working well, maintaining temperatures throughout the night, as everything cools considerably and during the day, when the sun gets up and above the conservatory which can warm things up somewhat.

UK Ranchu Over Winter

The ranchu were closely observed this morning and i must say, even in my limited experience, they looked really well. All were cruising around first thing, apparently looking for food. At this time of year, the pond being located where it is, means it does not see direct sunlight until later in the spring. The result is, little to no algae has taken a hold yet, unfortunately meaning the ranchu having nothing easily digestible, to graze on through the winter.

I've been putting together some exciting ideas and plans that i hope will help develop/groom very high standard ranchu in 2013. Springtime seems to be an awful long way away!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Japanese Ranchu tucked up for Winter

Today the Japanese ranchu pond has dropped to a temperature around 8.5 degrees C. A couple of weeks of colder weather is forecast from next weekend and so I think the pond will reach its target temperature of 6 degrees easily in the next few days.

I decided that i would syphon out the little bit of waste that was present in the pond and top up with water that has been matured. All in all, i guess around 30% was replaced, with just under 100 litres of fresh water going in. I intend to leave the pond in its current condition for at least four weeks with no water changes and no feeding.

Whilst syphoning, the ranchu were inspired to move about a little and investigate what was going on. All appear to be healthy and fingers crossed, they will be OK over the next few weeks.

Japanese Ranchu Goldfish UK

Monday, 7 January 2013

Winter Begins for the Ranchu

The radiator in the conservatory has been turned off and the door to the main house is kept closed, making the conservatory and the ranchu pond remain fairly cold, around the clock. The new thermostat controlling the heaters is proving to be invaluable. To ensure a gradual decline, i've chosen to reduce the temperature of the pond by 0.4 degrees C every day. The pond is currently sitting just below 10 degrees C and the ranchu have now slowed down considerably.

I may carry out one more water change on the pond, which the ranchu will then be kept in for the remaining wintering period. I would prefer to not stress the fish given their current state, but i have noticed a small amount of waste in the in the pond. Therefor, Ammonia and nitrite levels must be considered, with the ranchu being kept in the same water for a number of weeks.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Japanese Ranchu and UK Weather

The British weather is demonstrating another fine example of its inconsistency and providing a challenge to keeping ranchu in perfect conditions, with a bout of mild (and obviously wet) weather, for this time of year. With pond temperatures rising a couple of degrees in the past couple of days, it appears I will need to be more hands on in trying to cool the conservatory and the pond as much as possible.

The ranchu have had a small feed with the temperature rising and are also still getting water changes. The fish continue to appear happy and active. I hope that by the end of next week the pond temperature will be below 10 degrees C and that i can keep it there. This will then be the end of the water changes and feeding will also be stopped.

It has made me think that the winter in the outdoor ranchu facility will prove easier to control temperatures, although my wallet will probably be taking much more of a hit!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Ranchu Adventures; Heading into 2013

Happy New Year to one and all, Ranchu and Enthusiasts alike!

Just a small update on the current condition of the ranchu and the pond. The pond temperature has continued to drop gradually and is now sitting at around 11 degrees C, so not much farther to go. Meanwhile, the ranchu have been looking well, and, as active as i would expect, given the temperature. 

Another Christmas present arrived recently, which will be very important when i begin to warm the ranchu back up, after the winter - An external digital thermostat. Unlike heaters which each have individual thermostats and generally operate above 16 degrees C, the external thermostat operates from 0-50 degrees and will control all heaters. This will be hugely beneficial at the lower temperatures, when still wanting to increase or decrease the temperature of the pond gradually.