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Goldfish of the month: The lionhead This month's fish will be the lionhead, one of the most popular goldfish breeds all around the world. And that comes as no surprise, looking at that face that can be compared to a little puppy dog. History: The lionhead is one of the earlier developed goldfish, with his closest ancestors being the eggfish. After the Chinese made their goldfish breeding efforts more known around the asian world in the 16. century, and Japan started breeding as well, more and more different breeds showed up, with the lionhead being in that very early group, and it can be said proudly that the lionhead is the reason we have orandas today as well. The Mandarins in China had taken possession of the goldfish production and were in a feisty rivalry war who can develop the most fancy goldfish to please the emporer. In China he has been named Shou-xing, after their God of Longevity Shou-xing Gong, and with his fat belly also has a slight assemblance to the laughing buddha. Features: The most dominant feature of this breed most definetely is the extremely well developed headgrowth or wen on the lionhead. That headgrowth can be quite huge, and sometimes even bothersome, to the lionhead, especially when it starts growing over the gill cover and hinders the fishes ability to breathe. Other external features are the fat round belly, with the body depth ideally being greater than 1/2 to 5/8 than the length. His back is smooth, with no dorsal fin, and evenly arched in a slight, not too dominant curve. The caudal fin is double, with no webbing of the individual lobes. The lionhead has a matching pair of anal, pectoral and pelvic fins, with nicely rounded out lobes. To the untrained eye, the lionhead can easily be mistaken for another goldfish breed, the ranchu, which will be featured in another article later. Varieties and colors: You wouldn't think that there are more varieties of the lionhead, but yes, there are. Not all that many, but they are out there. Some of almost no headgrowth, while others have a very hard time seing out their eyes with the headgrowth covering most of it. And then we have the longfinned variety, which is rather uncommon, but very beautiful and graceous, not to mention one of my personal favorites. As for colors, there are plenty to go around for everybody: in the metallic-scale variety we have orange, red, black, even chocolate and blues lately. For the nacreous types there is bi-color (red-white, red-black), tri-color (red-white-black) and calico. And there is even a red cap lionhead, with a bright red headgrowth and the rest of his body being white. Finding an all white lionhead is somewhat of a challenge, since in chinese culture the color white is seen as the color of death and mourning, so most all white fish are being culled out. Housing and food: The lionhead can be put into the group of the bigger breed of goldfish, with a length of 10 inches and bigger not uncommon, which means, that little fella needs space. 10gl should really be the minimum for a small fish, 15-20 gl he will enjoy so much more and grow to his full potential, which is very impressive in a big sized goldfish. He is a rather peaceful and docile fish, and does well with other goldfish breeds. When the headgrowth starts covering the eyes though, some consideration is needed when it comes to his feeding, since it is harder for him to see his food at this stage. He is an excellent pond fish, if kept with other slower moving goldfish. Koi, comets and shubunkin are definetely not his favorite choice of pond mates. And considering how cold it gets in your climate, bringing him in for the winter is essential. Food? Him being a goldfish, that part should be easy - almost anything that fits into his mouth. Variety - again - is key to his health, so look around among sinking (soaked) pellets, flakes, live and frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, krill, daphnia, fresh veggies like peas, spinach, cucumber, just to mention a few. Since the lionhead is a very round bodied fish, a watchful eye has to be on the pellet and flakes category - all that needs to be soaked, and to keep this breed from having trouble with his swim bladder later on, peas and frozen foods should be fed more frequently to prevent constipation. Any last thoughts? Well, the lionhead with his loveable puppy dog face has sneaked into the hearts of many goldfish collectors around the world, and with good reason. He is one of the most adorable fish, and resembles somewhat a giant whale in the water. He lets his presence be known, and can be a long lived friend in our aquariums and ponds.