Lionhead Goldfish: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Lionhead Goldfish are the cornerstone of the Fancy Goldfish community, beautiful with their dorsal-less configuration, yet peaceful in a community aquarium.

But with their strict tank requirements, Lionhead Goldfish are not as beginner-friendly as most other Goldfish varieties.

So, this guide will break down what’s involved in Lionhead Goldfish care. It will cover the fish’s appearance, size, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and more.

Species Overview

Lionhead Goldfish are descendants of the Asian Carp that were first developed in China a long time ago. Over the years, they have gained plenty of attention from aquarists, becoming a staple pet in the global fishkeeping community with their unique qualities and ability to thrive in different settings.

If there’s one thing that has endeared these species to fish lovers around the world, it is their simple care requirements and captivating look.

Lionhead Goldfish is simply captivating. Even then, they are no longer found in their natural habitats in China, and many species you will purchase from the local markets are captive bred in Asia and other regions around the world. 

In the aquarium community, Lionhead Goldfish are recognized as beautiful members of the Cyprinidae family, with the scientific name Carassius auratus.

Lifespan15 Years
Care LevelModerate
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful
CompatibilityOther peaceful fish
Food and DietOmnivores
Size5-8 Inches
Tank SetupTropical Freshwater
Tank Size (Minimum)20 Gallons


Mature Lionheads fish will live up to 15 years in confined settings. But just like any fish, this will depend on the actual environmental conditions and the fish’s diet in captivity.

A beautiful Goldfish deserves an almost perfect environment to thrive. And that’s exactly what should guide you when setting up a Lionhead Goldfish’s habitat.

You can maintain your fish in perfect shape by providing the right diet, high-quality water, and the best possible tank conditions.


Lionhead Goldfish are not your ordinary Goldfish variety, and this will be evident from the first time you introduce them to a home aquarium. If you will be seeing them for the first time, you may be glued to their beautiful egg-shaped bodies the whole day. But it doesn’t end there.

This neat-looking little member of the Cyprinidae family has no dorsal fin, but will still balance their bodies in tank water using other means.

Its name alone reminisces an ancient Chinese story that revolves around the Goldfish community. Apparently, in ancient Chinese, many people kept Lionhead Goldfish with the sole aim of creating the cap on these fish’s head, sometimes called the “wen” in Chinese.

The general idea was to copy the Chinese lion dog, a significant ornament that’s special in Chinese architecture. And that’s the origin of the fish’s lionhead given name.

If you were to see them in modern aquariums, you would instantly notice the elongated head growth or the hood. But, unless it has significantly extended to block the fish’s vision, this should never worry you.

Lionhead Goldfish’s smooth texture is often compared to raspberry, and these fish come in multiple color variations. Usually, you will see lionhead fish with blue, calico, and black shades, as well as a beautiful mix of red, orange, and white colors.

They are often confused with another popular Goldfish variety, Oranda Goldfish. However, the Lionhead’s dorsal-less configuration should help you know that you are dealing with a distinct type.


Lionhead Goldfish grow up to 5-8 inches in captivity. But the growth rate is largely influenced by the actual tank water conditions, diet, and tank mates.

If everything is maintained at the right levels, you may see your Lionhead Goldfish exceeding the standard size in captivity. So, it’s all in your hands.

Lionhead Goldfish Care

Many aquarists recognize Lionhead Goldfish as a peaceful fish species with simple care requirements in a confined setup.

Don’t expect them to be great swimmers, especially with the protruding “wen” sitting right on top of their heads, but they are just as active as many Goldfish varieties.

Also, Lionhead Goldfish have poor vision and may appear clumsy in captivity. Now, this should concern you because the beautiful Goldfish will need protection from sharp objects, the bullies of the aquatic world, and fast-moving fish.

Read on to understand other vital aspects of lionhead goldfish care;

Tank Size

The Lionhead Goldfish require at least a 20-gallon tank capacity to remain healthy and active in captivity.

But just like any other Fancy Goldfish, more is always better. Also, a 20-gallon tank capacity is only suitable for one fish in a small space.

Every newcomer will need an additional 10 gallons to keep every community member happy and active. In general, we strongly recommend a 50-gallon tank to accommodate multiple fish or the entire community at home.

Water Parameters

You may want to copy the exact conditions for keeping a thriving Wild Carp population in terms of tank water parameters. And this means going with slightly warm water and a very specific temperature.

In summary, here’s what a Lionhead Goldfish needs to thrive in a home aquarium;

  • Water Temperature: 65°F-75°F
  • Water Hardness: 4-20 dKH
  • pH Level: 6.5-7.5

Of course, these fish can tolerate slight temperature changes. But in some cases, you may need to invest in the right water heater to maintain the temperature within the recommended levels. 

What to Put in Their Tank?

Unfortunately, the protruding wen exposes Lionhead Goldfish fish to permanent injuries and specific infections within the fishkeeping community. And that’s the only time you may question your ability to keep a thriving Lionhead community at home. 

When setting up their tank, one of the first things you will want to pay attention to is safety. See, the head growth extends to cover the fish’s entire face in maturity, so they will always have trouble maintaining clear vision in captivity.

In the worst-case scenario, Lionhead Goldfish will stumble upon objects, putting them at risk of suffering from endless physical injuries. As such, you must avoid any sharp objects when designing the fish’s habitat.

On the other hand, the substrate of choice when setting up the tank should be smooth stones, fine sand, or nothing at all.

That aside, Lionhead Goldfish have an incredible relationship with natural plants. And if you don’t see them nibble the smooth leaves when swimming, they will use them as the right hiding spots.

At times, you will even see your Lionhead Goldfish digging up the plants when they are bored or just relaxing in the home aquarium.

So, be sure to introduce the right soft plants like java moss, java fern, and hornworts.

Of course, rocks and driftwoods are the best decorative elements for many fish. But that’s not the case with the delicate Lionhead Goldfish. Usually, aquarists must avoid any abrasive or sharp objects such as rocks and driftwood when setting up the fish’s habitat.

As for lighting, Lionhead Goldfish will be comfortable with the natural aquarium light, so you don’t have to spend on a new system for your new aquarium.

In conclusion, effective filtration will be paramount to keeping a healthy Lionhead Goldfish community.

While many people will want to fault them for being excessively delicate, keeping the Lionhead Goldfish at home is never challenging if you provide the best possible environment.

And that’s achievable with the right filter to eliminate water contaminants and simple strategies such as changing 25% of the tank water weekly.

Common Diseases

Lionhead Goldfish are not a resilient fish species. They are highly susceptible to many conditions within the aquarium community. In all cases, poor tank water quality and reduced hygienic conditions are always to blame.

If you want to keep a healthy Lionhead Goldfish community, you must keep all the bacterial infections away. These include dropsy, fish tuberculosis, and fin rot that can easily cut short the fish’s life without early intervention.

On top of that, the Lionhead Goldfish will be susceptible to a range of fungal infections that can have a terrible outcome without the right medications.

Even for a seemingly healthy Lionhead Goldfish community, it’s important to capture early indicators of protozoan and parasitic infections that may never show obvious symptoms until real damage has occurred.

What Do Lionhead Goldfish Eat?

The Lionhead Goldfish are little omnivores with a wide range of food choices in captivity. They love protein-rich foods such as brine shrimps, daphnia, tubifex worms, and bloodworms.

Still, your Lionhead Goldfish should enjoy all the benefits of a balanced diet by feeding on high-quality plant-based foods such as blanched vegetables, fish flakes, pellets, and plant matter.

Even if you have plenty to give, don’t let the Lionhead’s huge appetite fool you because that’s where overfeeding sets in, and you know how that ends. Instead, create an effective meal plan that ensures your Lionheads get a high-quality, balanced diet with two or three meals a day.

Behavior & Temperament

So, how interesting can it get with the Lionhead Goldfish in captivity? Very interesting indeed. If you’ve been looking for a peaceful Goldfish that will brighten up your aquarium with little effort from your side, you won’t have better options.

The Lionhead Goldfish sends a message of tranquility. If you don’t see them casually minding their business at the bottom half of the tank, they will be scavenging for food next to other peaceful species in the same space.

The Lionhead Goldfish are peaceful fish species that can cohabitate with other community members of similar characteristics. They will thrive as the only fish in the home aquarium or as part of a peaceful community. 

Lionhead Goldfish Tank Mates

Lionhead Goldfish are calm species with just a few friends to keep them happy in a home aquarium. Unfortunately, they are not great swimmers and will never enjoy the company of fast-moving fish or aggressive species that may turn out to bully them in captivity.

That means the agile Goldfish varieties such as Comet and Shubunkin won’t be the Lionhead’s ideal tank mates.

Some of the best slow-moving or schooling fish that can live peacefully with the Lionhead Goldfish include the following;

If you intend to experiment with common invertebrates, be aware that the Lionhead Goldfish will comfortably live with shrimps and snails in the same tank.


Breeding Lionhead Goldfish in captivity is possible, and it’s easier than you could imagine.

Spawning occurs in small groups, but you can go with a larger community to create a healthy competition for mating partners.

Ideally, you should recreate the natural spawning conditions by selecting only the healthy species and putting them in a separate breeding tank as the spawning period approaches. Plus, you should start with a standard water temperature of about 60°F before slowly increasing it to anywhere between 68°F to 74°F.

Usually, the female species lays as many as 10 000 eggs. The breeding period can get a little chaotic when the male begins to pursue the female species, but there’s no need to panic. It usually ends with successful breeding and no injuries to any species inside the aquarium.

Then, you should remove the adult Lionheads from the breeding tank right away to stop them from eating the fry. Hatching occurs within a few days, after which the little fish will be happy to feed on powdered food as they grow to full maturity.

Final Thoughts

We may question a novice aquarist’s ability to keep a thriving Lionhead Goldfish community at home. But we can never doubt the fish’s ability to brighten up any aquarium regardless of its size and appearance. These are exciting freshwater species that are just as interesting as any other Fancy Goldfish variety.

If you are qualified to keep them at home or willing to experiment with them for the first time, be wary of their strict tank water conditions and delicate nature.

Keeping Lionhead Goldfish at home is easier if you have enough experience in maintaining a delicate fish species. If you have an already thriving community, you certainly can’t go wrong with Lionhead Goldfish in the same habitat. So, are you up for the challenge?