Oranda – The Goldfish with the Big Forehead

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Goldfish lovers are already aware of the astounding diversity that this species comes with in terms of coloring, patterns, and even body size and shape.

Goldfish are adaptable and hardy and can live upwards of 10 to 15 years in good condition. They can go as long as 30 years in the wild, provided they remain healthy and avoid predation.

So, if you’re a goldfish lover, I have a special treat for you today. It’s called Oranda, and it’s the famous forehead goldfish that packs a unique visual presence.

The fish’s body displays distinct features making this species highly recognizable, such as:

  • The forehead growth – It’s also called a wen or crown, and it’s its most distinguishable feature. This excrescence achieves its full size by the time the goldfish is 2-years-old, and it can grow to impressive proportions. It’s usually of a different color than the rest of the body, and it will often double the fish’s head size. It’s somewhat similar to a brain, presenting tiny lobes and separations reminding of cerebral matter. This is a unique feature that will often hinder the fish’s ability to see.
  • The length-to-width ratio – Oranda’s body, is only 30% longer than wider. This makes the fish seem bulky and fat, with a big head, stocky and compact body, and fluffy fins. The fish’s body conformation, combined with the wen, makes for a unique sight.
  • Paired fins – The Oranda goldfish displays paired fins. Aside from its dorsal fin, all other fins come in pairs, including the tail one. This will provide the fish with an almost alien look that not even the veiltail can match. The latter is another goldfish species presenting a paired tail fin that has grown popular thanks to its fin size and elegance.

Aside from these features, the Oranda goldfish also displays an amazing color variation. Some are matte, while others are metallic and will come with several color variations, depending on the subspecies.

These include orange, red/white, red/black, full black, silvery-white, panda, 3 colors (black, white, and red), etc. The pattern variation is practically limitless.

But how did the Oranda goldfish come about, and what should you know about this species before getting it? Let’s see!

What is an Oranda Goldfish?

The Oranda goldfish’s origins are rather fuzzy. This species’ country of origin is China, but it was initially marked as the Netherlands when the fish first arrived in Japan.

While it was long thought that the Oranda is the result of natural evolution, it is now widely accepted that its biological features are not quite natural but the result of selective breeding.

This explains the debatable utility of some of the fish’s features. For instance, its paired fins seem to suggest more propelling power, yet the fish isn’t a particularly powerful swimmer.

It’s actually slow and tends to rest occasionally, floating in mid-water and spreading its caudal fins during that time.

The head growth isn’t of much use either. It will usually grow to impressive proportions, taking over the entire head area, except for the eyes and mouth. The fish’s face will appear deformed because of it.

Furthermore, the overgrown wen will even hinder some fish’s vision, causing blindness in the process.

It’s one reason why Oranda goldfish are the product of selective breeding. This doesn’t mean that the Oranda goldfish can’t live long, healthy, and stable lives, only that, in some cases, your Oranda may require special care. Especially towards the end of its life.

How Long do Oranda Goldfish Live?

The Oranda can live around 10-15 years, which is typical for any goldfish species. They can even go beyond 20 years, provided they receive optimal care, a stable and healthy diet, and a calm and peaceful environment.

This species’ lifespan depends on several important factors:

  • The space available – Goldfish can typically adapt to smaller environments. The problem is that the smaller the environment is, the smaller the goldfish will remain as an adult. Unlike other fish species, the goldfish’s size varies depending on the size of its habitat. It’s for this reason that goldfish can vary in size between 1.5 inches to 2 feet, depending on whether they live in a bowl, outdoor pond, or in the wild. The situation is different with the Oranda. This species will grow up to 12 inches, 8-9 on average, no matter the size of its environment. So, provide the Oranda with adequate space to keep it healthy and satisfied over the years.
  • Water quality and parameter stability – You will read that goldfish are notoriously hardy and resilient, and they are. But they also have limits. The Oranda goldfish, for instance, can withstand temperatures between 65 to 72 F, so some temperature variation is acceptable. But sudden, massive, or frequent variations will hurt the fish in the long run, weakening its immune system and leaving it vulnerable to infections and parasites. This is even more reason for concern with Oranda goldfish since they are notoriously more prone to infections, especially in the eyes. Equip your Oranda tank with a filter a heater, and perform regular maintenance and water changes to keep its environment stable and clean. These measures will improve its lifestyle, allowing the fish to live a longer and happier life.
  • The tank mates – It’s always tricky to find reliable tank mates for your goldfish. If they are too small, your goldfish may consider them food and eat them. If they’re too active and inquisitive, they might nip at your goldfish’s fins. This will stress them out and weaken their immune system. If they’re too aggressive and territorial, they will constantly poke and attack the Oranda, causing injuries and stress in the process. I recommend selecting friendly and peaceful fish species as tank mates for your Oranda goldfish. Look for catfish species, other bottom-dwelling fish, and other goldfish as good options, so long as you can accommodate them all in the same environment.

These measures are essential for ensuring that your Oranda goldfish live long, healthy, and happy lives over the years.

How Big do Oranda Goldfish Get?

The Oranda goldfish will grow up to 12 inches at most. The average size is about 8-9 inches, so you can get 6-inch long Oranda goldfish, depending on diet, genetic makeup, environmental setup, space, and other factors.

As an interesting addition, the fish’s body is nowhere near that long. The measures also consider the tail fin, which will sometimes represent 2 thirds of the fish’s body.

This makes the Oranda goldfish quite an impressive sight, especially when considering its twin caudal fin.

This feature provides the Oranda with an unparalleled elegance but can also create problems in the wrong circumstances. Fin nipping fish species would be thrilled to have the Oranda as their tank mate.

Extremely long fins are also subject to injuries and infections more often than not due to accidents in the tank. You should consider removing sharp objects or tank decorations with rugged or pointy surfaces to prevent accidents like poking, stabbing, or fin tearing.

What do Oranda Goldfish Eat?

Oranda goldfish rank as omnivorous, so they will eat whatever’s available to them. Their diet consists of vegetables and animal-sourced protein, which includes flakes, pellets, brine shrimp, daphnia, spinach, etc.

These are typical food preferences for any omnivorous fish species. But, even more important than what you feed them is how you feed them.

I have 3 special mentions to consider here:

  1. Feeding frequency – Adult Oranda goldfish should only eat once per day. This is typically enough to keep them full and satisfied. That’s because they have a slower metabolism and don’t require high feeding frequency. On the contrary, feeding your Oranda goldfish more than that will make them prone to digestive problems and obesity. The Oranda fish can pack on a lot of weight fast, especially since they’re not the most active fish in the world.
  2. Feeding amount – This is more difficult to assess, but it’s equally important. Your goldfish shouldn’t receive more food than what they can eat within 2-3 minutes. Anything more than that will result in a lot of food residues sinking in the tank, reaching the substrate, and decaying and poisoning the water as a result. Overfeeding is a major factor when it comes to ammonia and nitrites flooding the water. These are deadly chemicals that will affect your Oranda even in smaller quantities.
  3. Limiting the protein intake – The Oranda needs protein in its diet, but less than you might think. Omnivorous fish typically need limited amounts of protein, and the Oranda is no exception. Their diets need a mix of protein and vegetable-based nutrients, with the latter representing around 70% of the total. You can also provide Oranda goldfish with more substantial protein treats once per week, but don’t turn that into a habit. Too much protein will cause the goldfish to experience digestive issues, gain too much weight, and produce a lot more poop than they already do.

What Tank Size do Oranda Goldfish Need?

Many forums and goldfish-oriented articles will suggest around 20 gallons of water for each Oranda.

I would recommend something closer to 30 gallons for several reasons. Firstly, the extra space will provide your Oranda goldfish with an adequate environment to grow larger and remain healthier over the years.

Secondly, you need the extra space to accommodate various tank equipment and decorations that will take away the water volume.

And thirdly, you might consider morphing the goldfish tank into a community habitat at some point.

Or maybe you intend of breeding the Orandas and use the main tank to house some of the fry until you invest in a larger one. Either way, 30 gallons seems about right for one adult Oranda goldfish.

What are the Best Water Parameters for Oranda Goldfish?

The Oranda requires temperatures around 65 to 72 °F, with the goldilocks zone resting at around 68 to 70 °F.

The pH should remain neutral, around 7, but variations are acceptable, while water hardness shouldn’t go higher than 20 dGH.

These are manageable water conditions, but they are also limiting when it comes to finding reliable tank mates for your Oranda goldfish.

To start things off, avoid tropical species since Oranda’s temperature preferences won’t sit well with warm water fish.

Another point to mention is environmental stability. Goldfish, in general, despise unstable environments with fluctuating temperatures and varying water parameters. These will affect the fish directly by disrupting their immune system and stressing them out.

Environmental stability has been shown to directly influence the goldfish’s health, making it vulnerable to various diseases and parasites like Ich.

This means that the Oranda requires environmental stability more than anything else.

Do Oranda Goldfish Need a Filter?

Yes. In the survival sense, they don’t need a filter since goldfish can live without a filtering system. But they do need one to thrive and remain healthy since the filter brings their aquatic environment closer to their natural habitat.

The filter’s role is to stabilize the habitat by:

  • Cleaning the water of particles – These particles include food residues, dirt, fish waste, and dead plant and animal matter floating in the tank. The finer and more powerful the filter is, the cleaner and clearer the water will remain. Obviously, you shouldn’t overdo the power part since goldfish don’t like powerful water currents.
  • Diluting ammonia and nitrites – This aspect makes the filtering system absolutely necessary, in my view, especially for goldfish. Goldfish are notorious for their predisposition towards creating unnecessary quantities of poop. You can even exacerbate the issue a bit by providing them with more food if you have a fish poop fetish, which I doubt. The filter is necessary since it dilutes the ammonia and nitrites that increase naturally in any closed environment containing fish poop and decaying food residues.
  • Promoting cultures of beneficial bacteria – The filter typical houses numerous microorganisms that feed on ammonia and nitrites and turn them into nitrates. The latter is more neutral and less harmful to fish than the former 2.

I would say that your Oranda goldfish need a filter based on these 3 aspects. Just make sure you get a piece fitting in power and size, based on the environment you’ve built.

Can Oranda Goldfish Live with Other Fish?

Yes, they can. Orandas are peaceful and easy-going fish that display little-to-no combative tendencies or capabilities.

The problem isn’t whether they’re good team players but finding compatible tank mates that can accommodate the Oranda’s preferred water parameters.

In this sense, here are several tank mate options you might want to consider:

  • Another Oranda – Not only Orandas don’t mind sharing their space with another of their species, but they actually prefer it. It would be ideal if you could house 2 or more Oranda fish in the same environment since Orandas are almost never aggressive towards one another. Just make sure to form pairs, males and females, and don’t go for an all-male tank. As peaceful as they might be, testosterone always wins, causing male Orandas to experience conflicts of interests in terms of territorial dominance and female access.
  • Other goldfish – All goldfish species share similar water requirements with only little variations here and there. You can’t find any better tank mates for your Oranda goldfish than other goldfish. There are multiple options to consider, some of which are quite exhilarating and exotic. To name a few – pearlscale fancy goldfish, ryukin fancy goldfish, lionhead fancy goldfish, bubble-eye goldfish, etc.
  • Other fish species – There are plenty of names to include here, too, like cherry barbs, zebra danios, mountain minnows, sailfin plecos, black moors, or cory catfish. Just make sure to assess each fish species’ water requirements and comfort zones and provide them with a natural-looking and stable environment. You should also decorate the tank with plants and various hiding spots to minimize aggression, however unlikely you consider it to be.

Generally speaking, I recommend finding your Oranda some reliable tank mates. It doesn’t matter whether they belong to the same species or not, just don’t keep your Orandas alone.

They will feel more comfortable and at peace with other tank companions around them.

Are Oranda Goldfish Hardy?

Yes, they are, but you shouldn’t test their limits. Orandas can withstand some variation in water parameters, when necessary, but they require stable living conditions to thrive. Frequent or abrupt water fluctuations can stress them out and affect the fish’s immune system as a result.

If the water is too cold, for instance, your Oranda goldfish may become more vulnerable to Ich and other immune-related health problems in the long run.

Ammonia and nitrite levels should also remain as close to 0 as possible to prevent ammonia poisoning, which can kill your fish literally overnight. Other than that, Oranda goldfish can be quite hardy in the long run, provided they live in stable, clean, and safe environments.

Are Oranda Goldfish Prone to Diseases?

Not any more than other fish species. That being said, your Oranda goldfish can experience health problems due to poor tank maintenance, environmental instability, inadequate diet or feeding pattern, or simple genetic predisposition.

As with any disease, prevention is key to keeping your fish healthy. When that fails, early detection and treatment is the second most reliable step to take.

As soon as you’ve detected any sign of fish disease, quarantine the goldfish to protect other tank inhabitants and the environment. The latter point is especially important when dealing with Ich, which is a parasitic infection that unfolds via 3 phases. One of the phases involves the parasite leaving your fish’s body once matured and forming cysts around the tank.

These will give birth to additional parasites designed to infect other fish upon hatching.

Quarantining your sick fish will stop the parasite’s reproductive cycle.

The treatment usually consists of daily water changes, a healthy diet, and medication, depending on the disease your fish is experiencing. You might want to discuss with a professional before using any medication on your Oranda goldfish.

Funny Oranda Goldfish Names

Interestingly enough, many of this species’ alternate names come from the confusion I mentioned at the beginning of this article. When the fish first arrived in Japan, they wrongly thought that Oranda was a species endemic to the Netherlands.

This led to the Japanese calling Oranda various tale-telling names such as Holland Lionmask, Netherlands Lionhead, or Dutch Lionhead.

If we’re talking about goldfish in general, there are literally hundreds of names to consider. These include:

  • Nemo
  • Swim Shady
  • Lake Skywalker
  • James Pond
  • Agent Cody Tanks
  • Aquaman
  • Long John Silver
  • Goldilocks, and the list goes on.


The Oranda goldfish has given birth to an immense variety of colors and patterns and currently ranks as the most popular fish species available.

Just keep in mind that this species is prone to eye and head infections, especially around their wen.

Other than that, provide them with stable water parameters, ensure optimal dieting, and pair your Oranda with friendly and compatible tank mates and they will thrive. Oh, and find a fitting name for your fish.

After all, Orandas can live up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance, essentially making them part of the family. They deserve recognition.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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