Who said you should only keep one type of fish in an aquarium? Goldfish don’t mind having company. In fact, if you get suitable goldfish tank mates and set them in an optimal environment, their diversities in appearance and behavior will instigate a unique personality into the tank. If we’re going to be aquarists, we might as well spice it up, right?
How do we keep this adventure worth every sweat?
Check out this list of goldfish-compatible options.
- Best Tank Mates for Goldfish
- How to Choose an Ideal Goldfish Tank Mate?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Tank Mates for Goldfish
1. Bristlenose Pleco
Bristlenose plecos are freshwater fish and fantastic bioagents for removing stubborn algae in a fish tank. They can live harmoniously with goldfish because the two species occupy different tank levels.
You’ll mostly find plecos at the bottom of the tank nibbling on algae and other food. On the other hand, goldfish prefer living their best lives at the top level or middle of the tank.
You also must consider that these two fish species grow relatively big, so the tank should be large enough to accommodate them.
Under ideal conditions, there should be no aggressive episodes in the aquarium. However, they tend to be confrontational towards fellow plecos. In extremely hostile conditions like hunger, Bristlenose pleco will even eat their young ones.
It’s indeed true that plecos can feed on the slime coat of goldfish, but that shouldn’t be an issue unless you let them starve.
When the conditions are right, these two can make an excellent combo.
2. Comet Goldfish
Comets are long-tailed goldfish, almost similar to common goldfish but relatively smaller. They are very alert, active, and love to explore their environment. Being a fancy hybrid fish, pairing them with other goldfish or any other fish can be tricky. The problem is more environmental than it is temperamental. They thrive best in cooler temperatures.
But yeah, they can share an aquarium with other goldfish. Be careful when coupling them with other fish, as they can be seen as prey due to their small stature. They can also mistake other smaller or more delicate goldfish like Telescope Goldfish for snacks, so it can be a tough balance.
They can grow up to 12 inches, especially the ones in ponds. You need to factor in adequate space when pairing them with other goldfish. A 50-gallon aquarium will be okay, but a 75-gallon tank is the best. Also, they cannot breed in a small tank no matter what, so the tank size must come correct.
3. Rosy Barbs
Rosy Barbs are gorgeous and peaceful freshwater fish that can live well with goldfish. However, for this to happen, specific dynamics must be right from the onset.
First, Rosy Barbs are schooling fish, meaning they must live in groups. You’ll have to put five or more in a tank, and the group must have more females than males. It’s the only way they’ll concern themselves with each other and let the other tank mates be.
Also, an average Rosy Barb grows as long as 6 inches. That’s a good thing because they are too big a size for goldfish to prey on. On the flip side, though, now that you must entertain their shoaling behavior and have enough space for the goldfish, getting a big tank isn’t a compromise.
You’ll only witness their aggression when the tank is too small, and they’ll express it through behaviors like fin nipping. Otherwise, with all protocols observed, Rosy Barbs will be an outstanding addition to your goldfish aquarium, lighting up the mood with their reddish-pink hues.
Their coruscating personality perfectly matches the already colorful and vibrant goldie.
4. Cherry Shrimp
Cherry Shrimp will always be perfect tank mates for your goldfish. These bright-colored tiny creatures stay at the bottom or the tank sides eating algae. They are in no way volatile towards goldfish. If only we could say the same about the latter.
People do feed shrimp to their goldfish as a snack, meaning they are already in a tank with their potential eaters. Most people get stupefied when they learn that these two species can coexist. The secret lies in how you set up the tank. Provide as many hiding places as possible by filling the tank with plants, rocks, and other decorations.
It would also be helpful if you balanced their population. Shrimp breed at a high rate, so they’ll still be around even if you lose some to the fish. However, if your goldfish have no interest in the shrimp, you’ll want to get rid of some lest they take over.
Cherry Shrimp and goldfish, for example, already live together naturally. All you have to do is set your tank to mimic their natural habitat.
For these two to maintain their niche within the same tank, you must control goldfish temperament by inhibiting any agent that may elicit their aggression. For example, provide them with enough food.
5. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Judging by aesthetics, White Mountain Minnows are such a magnificent sight to behold. They are covered in silver-green scales, have pinkish fins, and an archetypal iridescent stripe running from head to tail. This stripe reflects luminous colors in light, so it would always appear as if the fish are changing color. If you’ve been looking to add fancy fish to your aquarium, here you go.
At a glance, you can quickly rule them out as potential goldfish tank mates since they are small-bodied and can fit in a goldfish mouth. On the contrary, what they lack in physique, they compensate for in speed.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are speedy swimmers and difficult to catch, unlike other fancy goldfish, which tend to be much slower. However, you want to avoid the long-finned ones since the elongated fins reduce their speed, so their chances of being caught are very high.
Due to their almost hyperactive nature, having them in your tank can be awesome since they kindle a sporty aquatic activity for the goldfish to watch and chase around. Remember, they thrive well in groups, so you must have at least five in a tank at any time.
6. Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios are swift, small-bodied fish with an iconic coloration. Their name was derived from their physical appearance, as they have lateral lines from the head to the tailfin. Their blue and yellow stripes make a beautiful contrast to the goldfish.
Just like goldfish, Zebra Danios are very active and playful. They are peaceful fish and equally thrive under the cool conditions that goldfish need.
They are fast enough to duck attacks from goldfish, but that confrontation is highly unlikely. These fish prefer being in groups and do so well, even in community tanks.
7. Corydoras Catfish
The famous low-maintenance Corydoras Catfish are non-aggressive fish. They are schooling fish but seldom grow beyond 2.5 inches. You need to factor in such logistics before getting them as tankmates for goldies.
The size and thick body of Corydoras, aligned with their spiny dorsal fins, protect them from being eaten by goldfish.
Corydoras Catfish spend their time at the bottom of the tank eating food scraps, which is fantastic because they help clean the tank. The only downside to this is that feeding them may be challenging as the goldfish can grab all the food before it reaches them.
There’s a lot of contention about the effectiveness of keeping goldfish and Corydoras as housemates. Even the largest Corydoras are prey to goldfish. Your goldfish are also at risk because Corydoras have sharp spines that can injure them.
So if you’re down on taking this road, you need a very spacious tank and also remain extremely observant to detect any anomaly in the tank before it’s too late.
All the same, people still manage to keep them together. Check out this youtube video for more perspective.
8. Dojo Loach
Dojo Loach, also known as Weather Loach, is a thin-long slender freshwater colorful fish. You’ll find them in olive, green, light grey, and yellow variants. It can adapt to different aquatic environments hence the name Weather Loach.
They are so super laid back that they cower and hide in the wake of aggression and only come out when they feel more comfortable.
They are solitary, bottom dwellers, and community fish. So it is best to keep them in groups rather than one. Their innate nature to live in similar tank conditions as goldfish qualify them as ideal tank mates.
They grow as long as 12 inches, so if your tank is anything short of 75 gallons, you might want to take a pass on this one. Also, if you’re going to keep Dojo Loaches, you must maintain a strict tank cleaning schedule and heavy filtration because having them in one tank with goldies means heavy bioload.
9. Mystery Snails
Most aquarists don’t even consider snails when considering the best goldfish tank mates. The mystery snails should be an exception because they can add character to the aquarium. They are peaceful fish, super-cute, and can adapt to different water conditions.
Mystery snails come in an array of colors, including ivory, brown, black, albino, and golden. They do an excellent job cleaning the tank because they relish eating algae and other organic wastes.
Besides having a hard protective shell that shields them from hungry and curious goldfish, they are also bigger than other freshwater snails.
10. Rice Fish
Like the white cloud mountain minnow, the rice fish is a complementary addition to any aquarium tank. If you’re a beginner, rice fish are brilliant tank mates because, as much as you must keep them in a pack, they don’t occupy much space. The largest they grow is 1.5 inches.
You’ll also add a splash of color to the tank since their striking blue eyes and color variants create such a spectacular view. These Japanese rice fish make good goldfish tank mates because of their playful nature, which triggers the goldfish to be even more vital.
However, they are tiny, and goldfish can easily eat them. They also contribute to waste overload in the tank, so you need filters and scheduled cleaning to maintain water quality.
How to Choose an Ideal Goldfish Tank Mate?
There are three parameters to look into; temperature range, aggression level, and size.
In a goldfish tank, the temperatures should range between 65-75°F. The tank mates you choose must be aquatic animals that equally live in such an environment. For example, you’ll have made such a classic mistake if you brought a tropical fish in a goldfish tank, which is supposed to mimic cold or cool waters.
Other than their tendency to eat smaller tank mates, goldies generally have a chilled temperament. If you house them alongside violent fish like the tetra species, Jack Dempseys, or tiger barbs, their long fins will easily give them away for fin nipping and all forms of bullying.
Such an unfriendly environment soon gets to them, and they’ll project discomfort in various ways like poor eating habits, stress, and when push comes to shove, death.
Regarding size, you need to consider a tank mate that won’t fit into your goldie’s mouth. Generally, when carnivores and omnivores fish spot anything smaller than them, they immediately see. The best goldfish tank mates should be at least four inches long.
Does this mean goldfish cannot be housed with smaller fish? They can, but then you should choose ones with a high swimming speed.
If yours are fancy goldfish, they are slow swimmers, so the tank mates should be even slower. Otherwise, they can be subjected to fin nipping or outrun for food.
Fun Fact: It’s time to shift our attention to another fun fish pet and get to know their compatible and incompatible aqua companions! Check our article: Neon Tetra Tank Mates: 17 Best Fish Friends You Have To Know.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can goldfish live with other animals other than fish?
Yes. In our best goldfish tank mates list, we’ve included other animals like mystery snails and cherry shrimp, which can coexist with goldfish. Other fantastic and unproblematic potential tank mates are bamboo shrimp, ghost shrimp, and apple snail.
Yes, you can. I remember once, at a pet store, being advised against having common goldfish and fancy goldfish in the same tank. The salesperson didn’t do a good job explaining the rationale behind that, but now I know.
You can have fancy goldfish like comets with other select common goldfish. The main challenge is that the common ones are fast and frisky, while the fancy ones are slow. Fancy goldfish are not the types that compete for food, so they’ll be underfed, become frail, and even die.
Secondly, divergent physical attributes notwithstanding, they all are goldfish and can still breed. The result will be a regressive gene that won’t fit either side.
What do goldfish like in their tank?
When setting up a fish tank for your goldfish, choose what complements their personality.
Plants provide oxygen and are also a source of food. Apart from that, they add a fresh and life-like appearance to the aquarium. In goldfish tanks, live plants, sea stones, sand, and other decorations give hiding areas for small fish and make the space more beautiful and natural.
By now, I believe you’ve realized that goldfish have an infinite number of tank mates. You can be spoilt for choices if you want to get some for your aquarium. In a nutshell, consider a tank mate whose attributes complement those of your goldies.
With the right tank conditions and safety measures considered, your aquarium is about to be lit for days.
Last Updated: July 14, 2022