Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Into 2015 we go - Happy new year!

Its been a long time since my last post, ive had a number of other projects that have taken a lot of my time during 2014, and so regular updates on the ranchu have not been possible.

That said, there wasn't anything too exciting to update on. The most noticable event, besides discovering all my ranchu are male, was filling a pond one evening, only to discover the following morning that it was empty. Closer inspection proved that the electric heaters had slowly created a build up of limescale, and finally melted/cracked the liner. 
The pond in question, was the one which the ranchu overwintered in last year, heaters operating for many weeks last dec-feb. A school boy error, but a lucky escape for the ranchu and myself. Thank god i age the ponds for a day or two, before adding the fish.

The ranchu had a good, healthy summer. All have grown a little more and now entering their 4th year, the ranchu are showing their genetic characteristics much more obviously. 

Headgrowth in particular has been noticable. For a number of reasons, the ranchu were fed saki pellets more frequently this year, i imagine this has had an effect.  

With the fear of dodgy liners in mind, i decided to buy a couple more fibreglass tubs, which will serve a few purposes with fry in future, but which will house the ranchu over this winter. They are smaller, quicker and easier to clean and reassuringly more solid than liner, so late autumn i moved the ranchu to them and started to prepare them for the upcoming winter.

Once again ive created some polycarb lids for them which are working well keeping the temps stable, and weve recently had nights to -4C.

I expect to be posting more once again into 2015, but until then i'd like to wish any readers and hobbyists a Happy New Year, and i hope your winters go well.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sexing ranchu goldfish, very difficult indeed.

We have had an interesting revelation in the last few days. Last week, i decided to isolate one of my ranchu that had developed an ulcer over the winter. I wasnt entirely happy with how it had healed and wanted to give the fish more time in cleaner water to see if it would improve further. It had also seemed unwell, isolating itself and not showing much energy.

After a few days of very limited feeding and massive daily water changes the ranchus energy levels were back to normal.

Due to heater shortages, time and space etc, i decided to move all the fish, using the two smaller tubs, putting them all through the same conditions. The ranchu are all really enjoying the cleaner conditions and the sexes of the ranchu seem to have vecome clearer. Im well aware that its very difficult to sex goldfish accurately, and ranchu particularly, due to their generations of in-breeding which can make identification very hard, breeding tubercles for example are common on both males and females in my line, though more prominent on the males.

Last year, when chasing was observed, i had identified what i believed to be 3 females and 3 males. The males had all released milt at times, the suspected females were generally the fish being chased, and they also had what i considered to be female protuding anal vents and had never released milt. 

However, on moving the ranchu today i have seen what i believe to be milt, from two of the "female" fish with what i considered protruding vents. This discovery has meant that the ranchu below could be the only female in my group.

Unfortunately, given the observed milt, tubercles on all fish, chasing but no eggs, a group of only males might make sense. Another shopping trip may be in order....

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ranchu Pond lid mods and pond update

How time flies. Already we are nearing the end if april and still i dont really feel spring is here. At times temperatures are often only a few degrees above freezing throughout the night, though the ranchu are enjoying pond temps much warmer. 

Wednesday, i made some long awaited modifications to the ranchu pond lids. I have previously used timber to prop them up when cleaning etc, which was unstable in wind, and so i needed to find a more secure way of propping them. 

Ive installed a pretty crude pulley type system, similar to how a window blind works, between the fence and the hinged lids and am thrilled with the results. You can see from the picture below just how much unobstructed access i now have to each pond. The lids angle can be adjusted easily through 90 degrees, in the time it takes to tie a knot.

Today, weve had some sunshine, followed by some very stormy looking clouds and heavy rain this evening. The ranchu were moved into a new pond tonight and i noticed one of the females looking increasingly full. Another female fish that has always been thinner than the others (due to being a fussy eater and only eating food when it lands on the bottom!) also appears to have a noticably fuller stomach. 

After moving them this evening a couple of males began chasing immediately, hustling females and posturing side by side with each other in a kind of stand off, we'll see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Full moons and frisky ranchu!

Saturday evening the ranchu were moved into a new pond. A male fish (previously mentioned for showing a bit of dominance) began the first chasing ive seen this year soon after, but stopped a little while later.

Breeding ranchu goldfish

Sunday we had a really nice, bright day, the pond temperature rose well once again and i prevented it dropping back beneath 20 degrees C this time. Breeding tubercles have become even more obvious on all fish. I've also fed smaller quantities each feeding. As darkness fell, i looked in on the ranchu and all were very active, almost oblivious to my presence. I always think this is a good sign that they have something else more primal on their mind! All ranchu were either chasing or being nudged around, which was promising. Early Monday morning i checked on them but all were as round as they were the night before. *Sigh*

We are forcast to have a couple of weeks of similar warm weather. Rather than continue to raise the base temp, as i did last year, i will now hold it at around 20/21C. We are also due a full moon tonight (i believe), and i know lots of breeders who believe this to be a big factor in encouraging spawning. We shall see....

Moon phases for April

It is widely acknowledged that the first spawning is often of low quality, with many breeders preferring to disregard it entirely and wait for the next. Whilst i accept this may well be good practice and best use of time, i intend to get some practice with the first spawn. Whilst the overall quality may ultimately be llimited, i have the resources and time, and am keen to practice my pond management and a few grooming ideas on any fry. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Spring has sprung and the sun is shining

As we enter April, the worst of the winter now looks to be behind us. Just as the pond was increasing in temperature nicely, last week we had a handful of days close to freezing. It seems the lids and heaters finally hit their limit, and the pond simply couldn't be kept at the temperature it had risen to in days previous (somewhere around 19 degrees) during sub zero nights. The pond came down to around 15C but the ranchu took it in their stride and seemed unaffected.

Since then, We have had a number of days with temperatures close to 20 degrees C and temperatures through the night around 10 degrees, which looks set to continue in the coming week.

The pond is sitting around 19C generally, brighter days seem to have more heat behind then now and the pond has warmed up to beyond 21C at times. The ranchu look well and are very active. I hope that mild evenings for the next couple of weeks will allow me to keep the ponds warmer, and may trigger some chasing.

Ive made even more changes to my spawning mops having tried various different materials i think im now settled on the style of the one above. The ranchu have seemed very cautious of anything that wasnt super soft, and havent interacted as confidently with previous mops as i would like. They seem very happy to interact with this one, which must be a good thing.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ranchu breeding tubercles and conditioning

In the last couple if weeks we've enjoyed mild conditions and the pond now comfortably climbs well above 18 degrees C on a bright day, falling back down to a controlled 18 degrees C during the night.

Looking at the blog from last year, it appears that chasing behavior occurred when temperatures were in the 21-24C range. It would suggest we could be close to these conditions very soon. I may push the base pond temperature up a little further as i am getting itchy to see some spawning behaviour. I will just ensure the pond can drop back down a little further than i let it last year.

Ranchu breeding tubercles

I have increased the number of bloodworm feeds per day where possible  and the ranchu are looking in good condition. One of the males in particular is showing very good vigour, seemingly swimming with real purpose and presence (if that's possible!). The females all appear to be filling out nicely, with breeding tubercles becoming more prominent on the males, which is good to see.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ranchu Eggs and Hatching Fry!

Ranchu Goldfish Fry

Just teasing, sadly theyre not mine! Ranchu goldfish are being spawned across Japan though it appears as the breeding season gets well underway for Japanese hobbyists. 

I have been watching the weather in areas of Japan and it has been very similar to conditions here in the UK, which has been 10 degrees C above the average for the time of the year. 

Today, we have enjoyed the sunniest, warmest day of he year, with barbecues fired up all around us. The ranchu pond rose to 17 degrees C earlier, and we are set for a week of high pressure and warm(ish) weather. The ponds were cleaned up and refilled yesterday and the ranchu were moved today.

Japanese Ranchu and Spawning Mop

The ranchu have been enjoying good quantities of bloodworm and I am looking forward to observing the ranchus behaviour this week, if conditions continue to be bright and mild in their new pond.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Shiny Happy Ranchu

UK Ranchu Goldfish in Outdoor Pond

In the last few days we have had milder weather and seen a little more sun. At times the ranchu ponds have gone above 15 degrees C. I have also been feeding bloodworm in small quantities. The fish really seem to be responding well to the changes, which is reassuring.

With the recent change of pond, introduction of food, and warmer conditions, i decided to add my new artificial spawning mop/grass to see how the ranchu like it. It seems to have gone down well and they are all very comfortable with it, brushing themselves along its soft strands confidently.

I aim to keep the ponds somewhere in the 15-18 degrees C range now. The ranchu are looking and swimming about very confidently and im hopeful spawning activity could be just round the corner. 

During March of the 2013 breeding season the temperature jumped up to 20 degrees C within a couple days, fingers crossed for similar (or better) weather this year.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Ranchu enjoy sun on the Pond

Feeding Japanese Ranchu Goldfish UK

This month we have continued to see massive amounts of rain across the UK and recently very strong winds. Today the weather has been much nicer, calm and bright. Birds have been singing like spring has arrived, and the sun increased the ranchu pond temperature past 14 degrees C. 

I have been observing the ranchu closely and have noticed that a couple appear to have ulcers developing. Whilst i haven't  been feeding them, the ranchu have still been able to graze on algae and anything else foraged on the bottom, due to their increasing activity levels. Because they are back in the eat/poop cycle, i imagine the water quality us deteriorating. I must now get back into the regular water change routine without delay, to ensure water quality is pristine, allowing any infections to be cleared up.

With that in mind, i decided today, to give the ranchu their first serving of bloodworm. They all ate eagerly and as the temperatures continue to climb i will increase the number of feeds gradually. 

Spare ponds were cleaned and filled allowing the water to age, with the intention of moving the ranchu into it on wednesday.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

First Water Change of the Year for Ranchu!

As February arrives the ranchu have now been resting for around 11 weeks. Over the last couple of weeks the pond temperatures have slowly crept up to, and past, 12 degrees C.

Today, i decided to move the ranchu into a new pond for the first this year. If i had any confidence in our weather improving soon, i would have kept the ranchu in the pond they were in for a little longer. However, last year saw freezing temperatures right through to the middle of March. This would make getting the spare fresh ponds water up to temperature with each water change quite a challenge, aswell as expensive. I'm also not sure im comfortable leaving them in the same water for several more weeks (totaling around 19 weeks!). The water quality has definately been deteriorating.

The pond that the ranchu have been moved into, has been aged for a couple of weeks, and i plan to hold off feeding the ranchu until i feel more confident temps and water changes can be carried out again regularly and relatively trouble free.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Frozen nights but warm Ranchu!

UK Ranchu Ponds

I have pushed on with my plans to start warming the ranchu gradually and things are going well. We have had a run of nights with temperatures below freezing recently. The lids and just a single 300w heater in each pond has kept the water above 9 degrees C, which was a surprise and also a great relief.
As the temperature continued to increase and went past 10 degrees C, the ranchu have began to respond to the change. Each fish appearing a little less lethargic and labored when moving.

Within the next 14 days i expect the temperature to be between 12 and15 degrees C. I will then observe the ranchu and expect feeding and water changing routines to begin again soon after. 

This spring,instead of warming the ponds up to summer temperatures in one continuous process,I intend to hold the ranchu ponds heaters around 15-18 degrees C for a while, allowing the spring sunshine (when it comes!) to increase the pond temperatures further at times, more naturally.

Let me know how your winter has been.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Time to start warming things up!

The ranchu have now been at winter temperatures and unfed for several weeks. I now intend to begin very gradually warming them. I expect this process to take a further 3 or 4 weeks, before the ranchu ponds reach a temperature that i am happy to feed them at once again.

I had hoped we would have seen some snow and winter lows by now, but so far our winter has been mild, with only one sub zero night to memory. I expect this will mean snow and ice will arrive in the next few weeks, mid warm-up, meaning the heaters and pond lids will be put to the test once more, aswell as my wallet. 

In the last couple of weeks, i have made some modifications to the pond lids. We have had high winds recently, uprooting trees, and unfortunately the pond lids were also tossed about. Thankfully the ranchu were not injured. The lids have had more robust hinges fitted and also a latch and lock which i hope will mean i can rest more easy, regardless of the forecast. 

A mild day today saw the pond increase to 8 degrees C. All the ranchu look well, but i must admit im looking forward to cleaning ponds, warming and feeding the ranchu once again.