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HomeFreshwater FishLionhead Goldfish: Size, Lifespan, Care & Tank Mates

Lionhead Goldfish: Size, Lifespan, Care & Tank Mates

The Lionhead Goldfish is a charming and adorable species that often attracts the attention of freshwater aquarists. With their distinctive looks, they never fail to stir up talk

The article below Drywash Aquarium will provide necessary information on how to care for lion head goldfish. It covers important aspects such as size, lifespan, behavior, diet and recommended tank size.

General introduction

Goldfish, with their shimmering scales and graceful swim patterns, have been iconic pets for centuries. Among the various types, some stand out not just for their allure but for their rich history and distinctive appearances.

Enter the lionhead goldfish—a breed whose majestic appeal and unique features elevate it to a pedestal of its own in the world of aquarists.

Origin of Lionhead Goldfish

The fascinating lionhead goldfish, sometimes referred to as the “fat head goldfish”, has captured the hearts of aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. Not found in the wild, these distinctive creatures hail from the expansive Asian carp family and are a result of meticulous selective breeding.

The rich tapestry of their history can be traced back to Asia, where they emerged from the intricate blending of wild carp genetics. Crafted to mirror the image of the mythical Chinese lion-dog or ‘shishi’ in Japanese folklore, lionheads encapsulate a touch of the mystique.

As time flowed, these enchanting fish journeyed from China to Japan during the 17th and 18th centuries, where Japanese aquarists honed them further, giving them a more rounded back, altered tails, and subtler head growth.

Origin of Lionhead Goldfish
Origin of Lionhead Goldfish

Lionhead Goldfish Size

While the typical lionhead goldfish gracefully swims at a size ranging from five to eight inches, under optimal care and the right environment, they often break this norm. It’s not a rare spectacle to witness these aquatic beauties growing beyond their average size, even touching an impressive 10 inches!

Lionhead Goldfish Lifespan

Life’s unpredictability affects every living being, and the lionhead goldfish is no exception. While factors like genetics and susceptibility to diseases play a role, on average, these captivating fish enjoy a lifespan of about 15 years. With exceptional care and a bit of luck, some even grace their owners with their presence for up to two decades!

To ensure your lionhead goldfish thrives, it’s paramount to provide an environment that mirrors their natural habitat and meets their specific needs. Sadly, those in less-than-ideal settings often face a shortened lifespan.

The lionhead fish, with its unmistakable appearance, is truly a sight to behold in the aquatic world. 

Let’s dive into the intricacies of its form. Far from the streamlined elegance of wild carp, lionhead goldfish exhibit a charmingly rounded, almost egg-like contour. Their prominent bellies are so enlarged that, at times, their scales seem to protrude, giving them a textured finish. 

This rotund physique gracefully narrows down to a distinct fantail, a hallmark of many fancy goldfish varieties. Though not overwhelmingly large, this tail retains a fluid elegance that captures the eyes of many aquarium enthusiasts.

Appearance of Lionhead Goldfish
Appearance of Lionhead Goldfish

But the lionhead’s distinctiveness doesn’t end here. Notably absent is the dorsal fin, a feature that most fish proudly sport. This omission lends the lionhead an even more rounded appearance, emphasizing the gentle hump on their back. However, this uniqueness comes at a cost – lionheads are known for their somewhat clumsy and slow swimming, a result of their missing dorsal fin. 

Perhaps the most captivating feature of the lionhead goldfish is the wen. This fleshy, raspberry-textured growth surrounds their head, forming a mane reminiscent of a lion’s, hence their evocative name.  

The wen varies significantly between individual fish. Some may have barely noticeable growths, while others sport grand, attention-grabbing wens that occasionally grow over their eyes, potentially hindering their vision. Among goldfish aficionados, a pronounced wen is often seen as a prize. 

The colors of the lionhead are as varied as their wen. While many exhibit the classic golden-orange shade synonymous with goldfish, this hue is frequently peppered with a spectrum of other colors, ensuring each lionhead is truly unique.

Lionhead Goldfish Care

Caring for Lionhead Goldfish can be a challenging task due to their specific requirements. These fish are not known for their resilience and cannot tolerate significant changes in their environment. Therefore, it is recommended that aquarists with prior experience take on the responsibility of raising lionheads.

However, despite the challenges, the experience of caring for lionhead goldfish can be highly rewarding. By following these care guidelines, you can provide the best possible living conditions for your fish and ensure their overall health and well-being.

Tank size

Starting with the basics, ensure your lionhead has ample space. A single one of these beauties requires a minimum of a 20-gallon tank. This helps maintain water stability and reduces stress.

However, if you’re envisioning a community tank or wish to house multiple lionheads, go bigger! For each additional fish, add an estimated 10 gallons. Ideally, for community setups, a 50-gallon tank provides a comfortable space.

Lionhead Goldfish Care
Lionhead Goldfish Care

Tank Setup

Lionhead goldfish thrive in a simple and safe environment, devoid of unnecessary embellishments. To ensure the well-being of these fish, it is important to prioritize simplicity.

When setting up an aquarium for lionhead goldfish, start with a layer of sand or smooth rock substrate. These options provide flexibility in design while minimizing the risk of injury compared to rough surfaces like gravel. Alternatively, a bare bottom is also suitable for these fish and won’t pose any issues.

Including plants in the aquarium is an option, whether they are silk or live plants. However, it’s worth noting that goldfish often damage living plants by uprooting their roots or nibbling on the leaves as a snack.

If you wish to include decorative items for enrichment, opt for smooth rocks or plastic decorations. Avoid anything sharp or rough that could potentially cause physical harm to the fish. This means that driftwood, rough stones, and abrasive objects should be excluded.

Plastic caves or art deco decorations with no sharp edges are acceptable choices for providing shelter and visual interest. It’s crucial to ensure that there are no harsh edges that could potentially injure the fish.

In addition to decorative items, it is essential to install the necessary equipment to maintain stable water conditions. This includes a reliable filter to remove waste, a water heater to regulate temperature, and adequate lighting. Adding a bubbler for aeration is also recommended, but it is important to ensure that it doesn’t create a strong current in the water.

Tank Setup of Lionhead Goldfish
Tank Setup of Lionhead Goldfish

Water Parameters

Lionheads, being descendants of the cooler-living wild carp, thrive in specific water conditions. Consistency in these parameters is crucial to prevent undue stress. Ensure you set up the tank in advance, giving it time to stabilize. Aim for:

  • Water temperature between 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 8.0, preferably around 7.0.
  • Water hardness between 5 to 20 KH.

Food & Diet

Lionhead Goldfish possess a hearty appetite and are considered opportunistic omnivores. They exhibit a willingness to consume a wide range of food and will continue eating if given the chance.

However, overeating is a significant concern with Lionhead Goldfish. It is crucial to carefully monitor the quantity and quality of the food provided.

The recommended approach is to feed these fish no more than twice a day. Each feeding session should involve offering an amount of food that the fish can consume within a minute or two. Feeding them beyond this duration increases the risk of constipation issues.

When it comes to the diet of Lionhead Goldfish, utilizing commercial food is the simplest option. There are numerous nutritionally balanced flakes and pellets available in the market, specifically formulated for fancy goldfish, which are suitable for lionheads as well.

Food & Diet
Food & Diet

For those who wish to provide treats to their fish, high-protein snacks and blanched vegetables can be offered. Some examples of suitable food items include:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Tubifex
  • Daphnia
  • Peas
  • Romaine lettuce

Lionhead Goldfish Behavior & Temperament

You don’t need to worry about aggression when it comes to lionhead goldfish, as they are known to be one of the most peaceful species in the trade. Their mellow nature is evident in their behavior, as they tend to swim slowly and explore their tank in a leisurely manner, constantly on the lookout for food.

One of the challenges they face is their poor eyesight, which can lead to them bumping into the glass or decorative objects in the tank. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that there are no sharp items that could potentially cause injury.

Even during the breeding process, lionhead goldfish maintain their peaceful disposition. They do not display any aggressive behavior, further emphasizing their passive nature.

Lionhead Goldfish Behavior
Lionhead Goldfish Behavior

Selecting Tank Mates for Lionhead Goldfish

While Lionhead Goldfish are perfectly content living alone, creating a community tank can be a nice option. These peaceful fish are compatible with a variety of tank mates, allowing you to keep multiple lionheads or mix them with other species.

Some suitable tank mates for lionhead goldfish include:

  • Black Moor Goldfish
  • Bubble Eye Goldfish
  • Celestial Goldfish
  • Banded Corydoras
  • Most Loach species,
  • Snails, Shrimp,
  • Minnows, Danios
  • Rosy Barbs

It’s important to avoid aggressive or semi-aggressive species and fin-nippers, as Lionhead Goldfish are not agile swimmers and may be vulnerable to harm from smaller fish with a tendency to bite.

Opting for other passive and slow-moving fish or smaller schooling fish can enhance the visual appeal of the tank while ensuring compatibility with Lionhead Goldfish.

Tank Mates for Lionhead Goldfish
Tank Mates for Lionhead Goldfish


Lionhead Goldfish can be bred in small groups of five fish or larger groups. To encourage spawning, it is recommended to separate the males and females for a few weeks prior to the breeding season. This will stimulate the fish to breed when they are introduced to a breeding tank simultaneously.

Before placing them in the breeding tank, ensure that the breeding lionhead goldfish are healthy and free from any diseases. The temperature of the breeding tank should be cooler than normal conditions, around 60°F, when the fish are introduced. Gradually increase the temperature by 3°F each day until the fish begin spawning, which typically occurs at around 68–74°F.

During the breeding process, the male will chase the female around the tank for several days, during which their colors intensify. The male will push the female against plants in the tank and rub against her for a few hours.

The female will lay a large number of eggs, up to 10,000, which the male will then fertilize. If the eggs are left in the tank, both fish may consume them. Therefore, it is important to remove both the male and female immediately after the eggs are laid.

Lionhead Goldfish eggs will hatch naturally within a week. It is recommended to feed the fry specialized fry food to ensure their proper development.

Should You Get a Lionhead Goldfish for Your Aquarium?

Lionhead goldfish are fancy goldfish that can bring an intriguing element to your aquarium. However, they require specialized care and are not recommended for beginner aquarists.

If your tank already houses fast-moving or aggressive fish, it is not advisable to introduce lionhead goldfish. The aggressive fish may harm or outcompete the lionhead goldfish for food, leading to potential injury or starvation.

On the other hand, if you have a spacious community tank consisting of slow-moving fish, adding a lionhead goldfish can be a wonderful choice. They will contribute to the tank’s visual appeal and bring their unique character. Just ensure that the tank setup is devoid of any abrasive elements that could potentially harm your new goldfish.\

Lionhead Goldfish for Your Aquarium
Lionhead Goldfish for Your Aquarium

In this article, Drywash Aquarium have compiled important information about the Lionhead Goldfish, a popular and beloved aquarium fish for its unique beauty. Understanding and applying correct care methods will help us raise healthy fish and add color to our aquarium. Hopefully the information in this article will be useful for those who love and want to raise Lionhead Goldfish.

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Mark Senske
Mark Senske
Mark Senske is a highly regarded expert in freshwater and marine aquascaping, specializing in creating captivating and visually striking aquariums. With his extensive knowledge and experience, he excels in designing and maintaining beautiful aquatic environments that showcase the natural beauty of fish and plants.


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