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Head Growth Development Chart

One of the goldfish features that is uniquely, belonging ONLY to goldfish is – Head Growth. To develop an excellent head growth formation has remain one of the main challenge for most hobbyists.

I have actually written an article on head growth about a year ago … …
However, between now and then, there were new ‘types’ of head growth formation being developed. In order not to loss track how these different formations of head growth originally were and how it looks like, in this article, I attempt to plot a flow chart to link or should I say relate the different types of head growth available today.

In the early development, certain head growth is typical for certain varieties of goldfish. For example, the Tiger Head type of head growth is originate from the egg-shape, no dorsal fin goldfish. Due to cross-breeding and natural mutation, different types of head growth can be easily found cross different varieties now days. Hence, the following categorization is base on the head growth formation and NOT the goldfish varieties.

Chinese categorize the head growth mainly into 7 styles:

Goose Head

Origin: Also known as High Head, it is believes that this type of head growth is from southern China.

Key Feature:
·	The head growth only concentrate on the top portion of the head
·	Some time it forms in one big lump, some time it form in chunks packed together
·	No or insignificant growth on the rest of the head
JuHua Head

Origin: From references, it is believes that this type of head growth is from northern China.

Key Feature: 
·	This head growth form in ‘lump’ packed together
·	The surface appearance is smooth 
·	The growth cover evenly all over the head
Lion Head

Origin: From references, it is believes that this type of head growth is from southern China.

Key Feature:
·	It has a fairly big crown or a small Goose Head formation. 
·	This forehead growth is in form of small chunk packed together
·	Cheek growth, but NOT prominent
·	Slight growth from the gill cover and sides joining the crown and the cheek growth 
Tiger Head

Origin: From references, it is also believes that it is developed from southern China. This particular type of head growth was originally found only on egg-shape (no dorsal fin) goldfish.

Key Feature:
·	An evenly growth that cover the entire head like a golf ball
·	No distinct portion of crown or cheek growths
·	The entire head growth is form of small chunk packed together giving a 
·	Massive growth on the gill cover
Shou Xing Gong

Origin: Shou Xing Gong is the name of the typical variety of egg-shape goldfish, without dorsal fish and straight back. Their head growth formation belongs to Tiger Head. Regrettably, this variety is commonly addressed as “Lionhead”.

Key Feature:
·	SAME as Tiger Head

Chinese Ranchu

Origin: ‘Ranchu’ as the name indicates it is a particular variety of goldfish ‘develop’ and made popular by the Japanese. It has an egg-shape body, no dorsal, BUT with curve back. There is no clear documentation as to whether this ‘curve back’ egg-shape goldfish are first developed by the Japanese or the Chinese. Probably both developments are done independently and concurrently. Presently there are two types of head growth formation available among the Chinese ranchu.

Key Feature I: 
(Believe to be the original head formation for Chinese Ranchu)
·	Very similar to Lion Head growth, however less massive growth (in the past)
·	Over the years, the head growth development has been improved so 
	much that it is beginning to look more identical to Buffalo Head
·	Cheeks and gill cover growth are join
·	Photo 1: Stage 1 – overall little head growth (in the past)
·	Photo 2: Stage 2 – more growth developed on the forehead (crown)
·	Photo 3: Stage 3 – well developed crown and cheeks (identical to Lion Head)
·	Photo 4: Stage 4 – as it develop further, it looks more like Buffalo Head formation.
Key Feature II:
·	SAME as Tiger Head (Photo 5)
‘Northern’ Head

Origin: This type of head growth is believes to contain a certain percentage of the JuHua Head formation (gene) from the Northern China.

Key Feature:	
·	Very similar to JuHua Head growth, however, the forehead portion and
	 the cheeks portion is clearly separated
·	Usually the cheeks and the gill cover growth are join as one lump
·	More of a Goose Head growth than a crown growth
·	It has a smooth surface appearance
Japanese only has one:

Japanese Ranchu

Origin: Strictly speaking, as far as the word ‘ranchu’ is concern, it is developed from Japan. This variety of goldfish is meant for top-view appreciation. Again there are the old trend and the new trend of head growth. The old trend type of head growth is also known as ‘bullet’ head. The front portion of the head growth (looking from the top view) forms an arc, making the whole head like the shape of a bullet instead of a square or rectangular shape.

Key Feature: (new trend)
·	Very similar to Lion Head growth, the cheeks growth is well develop to 
	the point that it is protruding beyond the mouth when viewing from top view
·	Since it is meant to view from the top, the crown development is not so emphasize
·	The development of the gill cover would balance with the body width, giving the 
	head a square or rectangular shape.

Thai categorize the head growth mainly into 5 styles:

Buffalo Head

Origin: Ranchu was introduced to Thailand many years ago (perhaps 15 years). However, a large group of breeders went into evolving this top-view appreciation fish into the more commonly appreciated side-view fish, as a result, the Side-View Ranchu is born.

Key Feature:
·	Very similar to Lion Head growth
·	The cheek growth is specially and significantly stress.  Creating a ‘long balloon’ 
	effect on the cheeks, commonly known as buffalo horn / cheeks
·	Very little or no gill cover growth affected by the Japanese ranchu (gene)
·	Well develop crown and cheek growth are distinctively separated
·	It has a smaller crown compared to Lion Head formation
·	Overall head growth appears to be more of a smooth balloon/jelly-like. 
	NOT cauliflower-look effect.


Origin: The Thai breeders claim that lionchu is developed with the combination of Buffalo Head and Tiger Head. Many tend to define egg-shape goldfish with Tiger Head formation as ‘lion head’. Thus this new develop variety is call “lionchu”.

Key Feature:
·	Similar to Tiger Head growth
·	Due to the influence gene of the Buffalo Head, cheeks growth is prominent
·	These cheeks growths give a more cauliflower appearance, while the Buffalo Head 
	has the ‘smooth balloon’ appearance.
·	Chin growth

Chinese Head

Origin: Chinese Head are term given by the Thai breeders to those goldfish that have very similar or same head growth formation as the Chinese ranchu instead of Buffalo Head formation. In the early development, the Chinese Head formation tends to have better overall head growth comparing with the Chinese ranchu. As time passes by, both Chinese ranchu and Chinese Head formation have become identical.

Key Feature:
·	SAME as Chinese ranchu 
·	Separate into 2 fundamental head growth formations:
Lion Head formation (Photo 1&2) and Tiger Head formation (Photo 3&4)


Origin: Blackie is a name the Thai breeders give to the full black side-view ranchu. Generally they took after 3 types of head growth formations.

Key Feature I:
·	SAME as the Tiger Head with cauliflower effect (Photo 1)

Key Feature II:
·	SAME as the Chinese Head (also means same as Chinese ranchu) 
·	Most Blackie ranchu are Chinese Head formation (Photo 2)

Key Feature III:
·	In term of head growth formation, it is the same as either Key Feature I or II.  
	The only different is that the front portion of the head has a flat-look, creating a 
	box-like edges effect on the sides of the head growth.   This style of head growth 
	resembles the face of the ‘Boxer’ dog.  So it is term as BOXER Head.
·	BOXER Head do appear in other varieties of goldfish beside Blackie. (Photo 3 & 4)

‘New’ Head

Origin: Currently, Thai breeders have started to cross-bred between Buffalo and Lionchu.

Key Feature:
·	Similar to Buffalo Head with prominent crown and cheeks growths, however instead
	of little or no growth on the gill cover, this ‘New’ Head formation has heavy growth 
	forming on the gill cover and sides to join the crown and cheek growths together.
·	Major different between Lionchu and ‘New’ Head is that the growth are slightly
	more chucks packed together instead of the cauliflower appearance.

Finally, if I have not lost you by now, you should able to map the above descriptions and the flow chart together. With that, you should also able to see clearly that despite so many categories of head growth, the basic formations are:
·	Goose Head 
	(Uniqueness in term of: only head growth on the forehead)
·	Lion Head 
	(Uniqueness in term of: Shape of cheeks and small goose head can be see, 
	distinctively formed, but the size may not be prominent)
·	Tiger Head
	(Uniqueness in term of: cauliflower appearance, evenly growth)
·	JuHua Head
	(Uniqueness in term of: head growth formation is big lump form)
·	Buffalo Head
	(Uniqueness in term of: the prominent ‘balloon’ cheeks growth)

As mentioned in my previous article, many breeders are cross-breeding different types of head growth formation, thus many ‘hybrids’ have been developed. As time goes by, it is getting more and more difficult (perhaps impossible) to clearly distinguish between the types of head growth covered here. Even today, there are many that fall in between these categories.

Like the bell-bottom jeans, some of these head growth formation would be obsolete and sad to say, once lost, it might be difficult to ‘reverse-engineer’ in order to bring back these older types of head growth. For me, personal, I couldn’t help it but feel a bit disappointed to see that the once-trendy ‘pure’ buffalo head is slowly being ‘mixed’. But nevertheless, as the older head growth formation being face-out, new development set in, creating the so-call next generation of head growth.

With that said, I must add that one of the beautiful things about goldfish keeping is that hobbyists will able to continue to witness this ever evolving species – GOLDFISH.


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