How to Breed Red Cap Orandas

By Amy Guettler

Alluring and beautiful, the red cap oranda has a distinct, bright red hood on their bulbous heads and are tempting to breed for goldfish lovers of all sorts. Unlike their truly golden brethren, however, red caps are considered "fancy," and require greater care than other goldfish species. No wild variety of the species exists and breeding this fan-tailed, long-lived and exotic-looking goldfish is possible.

Initiate the Breeding Process

Educate yourself on which characteristics determine the quality of this delicate species. Despite its innately fragile state, when bred and cared for correctly, this human-engineered goldfish species can live as long as 20 years. But despite one's best efforts, breeding red cap oranda is no small feat, as this species is high maintenance --- it is far more susceptible to disease as well as slight changes in water temperature than most fish. This is a commitment, so be sure you're prepared to take on the responsibility.

Select parent fish that embody the red cap's remarkable features. The adult red cap oranda possess rather bulbous, egg-shaped bodies covered with shimmery white scales, and usually reaches a length of 6 or 7 inches. They also have a long, flowing caudal tail that's split in the middle, a feature best seen when the fish is still. Yet the feature likely responsible for the vast market for this species is the bright red, fleshy hood, or wen, that sits atop its head. This hood begins to develop when the fish is around 3 months old, and is fully developed after 2 or 2 1/2 years.

Outside of breeding season, determining the sex of red caps definitively is extremely difficult, although the male often is a bit sleeker and smaller than the female.

Create the ideal breeding habitat for your red cap oranda goldfish. Purchase the largest aquarium you can accommodate, as their size and tendency to use the entirety of the tank makes a large environment a necessity. Ensure that the aquarium has a filtration system as well as a thermostat, since water temperature is crucial to the survival of these particular goldfish. Keep a thermometer in the tank to ensure the water temperature stays at 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Include oxygenating aquatic plants, as they not only mimic a more natural --- and therefore, more comfortable --- environment, but they also play a significant role in the spawning process, as the eggs tend to adhere to plant life.

Encourage spawning in your fish by gradually dropping the water temperature to no lower than 60 degrees F and then slowly warming the water until the fish begin to spawn. Feeding your oranda foods high in protein such as worms or live brine shrimp can also encourage spawning. Just prior to the spawning process, both sexes deepen in color and the males begin chasing their female companions around the aquarium --- a behavior that may last several days. The act of spawning occurs when the males start gently pushing the females against the plants while they both gyrate, an act that stimulates the female oranda to begin dropping her eggs, which the male then immediately fertilizes. The whole process can last as many as three hours while the female produces up to 10,000 tiny eggs. The eggs attach to the plants with sticky thread-like material.

Remove the parents from the tank with a simple fish net immediately after spawning completes, and place them in a separate aquarium. Otherwise, both male and female red caps will begin eating the eggs.

Caring for Baby Red Caps

Ensure you feed these omnivorous little fish, called fry, once the eggs hatch. Feed them a diversified and nutritious diet to encourage healthy growth. Brine shrimp --- both live and frozen --- make for a tasty meal, as do finely chopped vegetables and vegetable flakes.

Monitor the temperature of the tank carefully. Keep a watchful eye on the young. At first, they tend to be more brownish and mottled in color in an attempt to hide. As they grow, however, they become bold enough to swim the entirety of the aquarium, and will swim in shoals foraging for food together.

Transfer the fry to the aquarium where their parents and other adult fish are when they reach 1 inch in length.