Goldfish are a classic pet that has adorned households for centuries.
Whether you picked one up at the local pet shop or won one in a state fair, you have probably been exposed to some misconceptions about their care.
Goldfish are often advertised as these fish who can remain happy and healthy in small, solitary bowls. This cannot be further from the truth.
Do you provide your pet with the best goldfish tankmates?
Can you keep a goldfish with other fish?
Goldfish are typically not aggressive. On the other hand, they generally enjoy being kept in a community tank with other companions.
Although there are some fish which they are not compatible with, they are usually a safe addition to a large, community tank.
Goldfish are naturally social and will seek out fish that they can socialize with regularly.
Do Goldfish Need Tank mates to be happy?
As naturally social creatures, they need this interaction. Like other social animals, they will get “lonely” without a companion.
While it is difficult for us to remain objective and determine an animals’ emotions, there are some distinct behaviors you can observe. (You can’t exactly ask how a fish is feeling.)
One way in which researchers have determined a goldfish’s need for companionship comes from the negative behaviors they exhibit when they are left alone.
For one thing, their activity level is impacted. Solitary goldfish are less active and lethargic.
This behavior resembles that of depression in humans and other “higher cognitive functioning” animals such as rabbits and dogs.
In fact, experts even refer to this phenomenon as goldfish depression. Fish really shouldn’t be underestimated for their mental capacities overall and have official social needs.
In some countries (like Switzerland), it is actually illegal because depriving a goldfish of social needs is considered animal abuse.
What Fish can live with goldfish?
Obviously, goldfish are the best goldfish tank mates.
They like to have like-minded companions. Additionally, having a tank with the same species of fish means that they all share ideal conditions.
This doesn’t mean that they necessarily only should live with goldfish.
When they are not aggressive, they can be kept in larger community tanks with several different species.
Consider the following goldfish tank mates list;
1. “Regular” Goldfish
Before we go into other possible species, it is essential to realize that goldfish need other goldfish in the tank.
Imagine if you were allowed to live your entire life with companions.
Sure, many people joke around that they would rather just have dogs, but it is nice having at least one other person.
The same goes for goldfish. The social creatures appreciate other friendly animals in the tank, but they need another goldfish to prevent depression.
You can consider getting different types of goldfish if you want to add some variety to your aquarium.
For starters, goldfish come in a wide assortment of colors. It is pretty common to see goldfish that are orange, red, white, yellow, gold, and silver at any local pet shop.
Common goldfish, comets, and shubunkins are all able to live and interact healthily with each other.
2. “Fancy” Goldfish
In can be wise to try to find goldfish of around the same size.
Fancy goldfish are another story. Those cool varieties with bulging eyes or swollen heads should not be housed with “regular” goldfish.
They are especially delicate and cannot escape other fish that can bully them. Although goldfish are not aggressive, they can be a little curious.
This curiosity can lead them to nip at fins a bit. This is normally not a problem if fish are stronger, less delicate, or fast enough to swim away.
For fancy goldfish, it is best that you get the same (or similar) variety of fancy goldfish.
If you choose to get a fancy goldfish tank, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Like other “designer breeds,” they are prone to more illnesses and disorders.
This has a lot to do with the nature of selective breeding and how it encourages inbreeding. This also can be due to the desired deformities themselves. One of the biggest concerns is their organ size.
Fancy goldfish have actually the same sized organs as “regular” goldfish. Because of the abnormal shape of their bodies, the organs are a bit compressed.
This makes them have a higher chance of developing swim bladder issues and liver disease.
Although they are still considered a hardy fish in comparison to others, you should still make sure to give a pair of fancy goldfish at least 40 gallons to swim in. Be extra diligent in monitoring water quality.
3. Zebra Danios
These fish are docile and rather hardy, making them an ideal tank make for your goldfish. They are a great community fish because they pretty much get along with anyone.
Additionally, these fish are incredibly active and interactive with the tank. You may even notice that they follow you when you stroll by the tank.
There is really only one thing you need to consider these fish -the speed. Zebra danios are really fast and rarely tank a break.
This can be great if you are worried about a particularly aggressive goldfish bullying them. This can also be a setback for some of the “designer goldfish.”
Goldfish which has intentional deformities, such as the celestial goldfish. Their looks can impact their ability to swim properly.
Considering how fast the zebra danio can swim, you need to keep an eye out that they are not stealing the food from your slower fish.
4. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
These schooling fish are docile and make a great addition to any community tank. They are especially great for goldfish because of their desired environments.
They can handle the cold water temperatures that are ideal for carps, like goldfish.
5. Apple Snails
Snails make an excellent addition to any community tank. They are great at keeping the tank clean and preventing algae growth.
Snails are cute, docile, and inexpensive. It is rather easy to introduce them to any community. They require very little living space can be added directly into a tank big enough for your fish without the risk of overcrowding.
It is important to note that very young or small snails are at risk of being eaten.
6. Rosy Barb
Rosy barbs are a popular choice among hobbyists as they are nice to watch and very friendly.
Unlike many of the other fish on the list, they can add a lot of color to the tank. They are adequate swimmers that can avoid goldfish while simultaneously not posing much of a threat in terms of competition.
This pleasant and friendly fish is an excellent addition to any serene aquarium.
7. Rubbernose and Bristlenose Plecos
Like goldfish, plecos are a rather hardy fish. Although they prefer warmer waters, they can do well in colder temps as well.
Mixed with the hardiness of a goldfish, you can meet somewhere in the middle and keep them both happy and health (the late 60s, early 70s is perfect for them).
These guys need a pretty decent sized tank as they get really big. It is important to note that these guys are not suited for outdoor living.
Winters are too harsh for them, and it should be avoided putting them out in a pond when it is difficult to retrieve them.
It is important to note that while rubbernose and bristlenose plecos seem to get along with goldfish, common plecos should be avoided.
8. Pond Loach
Since goldfish are a rather popular pond fish, it only makes sense to mention some other pond fish. These guys need a lot of space. A minimum of 75 gallons, to be exact.
You need a pretty large and specialized aquarium to handle both them and a pair of goldfish. They are, however, the perfect addition to a pond.
Loaches are great because they stay out of the way. These benthic creatures also help keep the water clean.
Although they are omnivores and will occasionally eat small aquatic organisms they find living in the pond, their main food is algae.
If you want to know what types of fish can be kept with goldfish, there are a few things you should consider.
- Make sure your tank is big enough to accommodate everyone.
- Provide enough food, so your fish aren’t forced to compete against each other for resources.
- You need to make sure that the fish have similar environmental requirements.
- The potential tankmate should not be aggressive, especially with delicate goldfish species with long tails or delicate fins.
- The fish should be bigger than your goldfish’s mouth so that they aren’t enticed to eat them.
How many fish should you keep in your goldfish tank?
How many fish you should keep in your goldfish tank varies greatly depending on how big the tank is.
Goldfish are pretty decent-sized fish. Despite popular belief, they need at least twenty gallons to thrive.
There was an old myth that stated goldfish would remain the size of the tan you put them in. If kept in a smaller tank, it would prevent them from growing too much.
The reason they stayed mini isn’t for convenience. Instead, this phenomenon had a darker explanation.
When goldfish are forced to stay in tiny aquariums that are too small for them, their growth gets stunted.
The small volume of tank water quickly becomes poor quality, hurting the fish’s health. Along with other inadequate care, they will fail to grow to full capacity.
This gives the illusion that they will only grow to a certain size.
It is now known that a single goldfish needs at least 10 gallons (preferably 20). For each additional goldfish, you should increase the necessary tank size by an additional 10 gallons.
Other fish have different gallon requirements. Tetras, for example, don’t need so much space.
You can add a bunch of tetras to a smaller area without damaging water quality.
Goldfish are ammonia powerhouses. They need space, and the entire community will suffer if they don’t get it.
Water quality is one of the biggest concerns. When fish are forced into tight spaces, then the water becomes dirty very fast.
For the most part, this will be obvious when you observe the cloudiness of the water.
A quick water test will you that there is a lot of waste build up in the tank, leading to a spike in harsh compounds that damage the fish (namely ammonia and nitrates/ nitrites).
While an abundance of water changes and an expensive filter may keep quality somewhat in order, it is just a stressful environment to force your pet in.
Even if you were given enough food and water, would you be happy having to share a single room with six other people?
Fish don’t need their own bedroom, but they do appreciate having a bit of space.
Like stressed-out people who need a break, they may become a bit agitated if they are in an overcrowded tank.
This agitation can manifest itself as an illness in the fish (or compromised immunity). It may also lead to aggression, where the fish will get a bit nippy at each other.
Sparing a few species exceptions, goldfish are generally harmless creatures who won’t bother other living things unless they are provoked.
When they are trying to do some damage, they are a larger fish that can really hurt their tank mates under pressure.
That being said, there is no maximum number of fish that need to be in a goldfish tank. The minimum number is two so that your goldfish has a healthy and happy companion.
The limit to the number of fish you have will be determined by how large of a tank you have.
You have probably seen a giant pond full of countless goldfish. Likewise, you may have seen a large tank with only a couple.
As long as you are making sure that all of your tank inhabitants have adequate space, there is no need to worry about how many fish are in your community.
Fish you should avoid keeping with goldfish
To determine which fish are compatible with goldfish, you can consider which traits make an ideal roommate.
In other words, if a fish is small, aggressive, or has different environmental requirements than your goldfish, you should consider another tankmate (or getting a second aquarium).
1. Neon Tetras
These little fish are a hobbyist favorite. They are very cute and generally an enjoyable fish that are easy to keep and fun to watch. These brightly colored schooling fish are a pleasure to keep but are unfortunately very tiny.
It might be possible to keep these fish at the beginning of a goldfish’s life. However, goldfish grow pretty quickly when they are taken care of properly.
Many people make breeding guppies a hobby. It is easy to see why.
They are hardy, pretty, nonaggressive, and easy to mate. For this reason, many people are interested in adding them to their tanks.
While guppies can live with goldfish, but only for a short time, there are some things you must keep in mind.
Size is a very important aspect as Guppies will be smaller than the goldfish at one point. Even if they are full-grown, the gaping mouth of a curious goldfish will be able to swallow them up in due time.
Unless you plan on separating your goldfish, later on, it may just be easier to skip getting the smaller fish altogether.
Freshwater angelfish cannot live with goldfish for a number of reasons.
The first comes in with an angelfish’s surprising level of aggression. They can be a bit nippy and may be bad to have around delicately finned goldfish.
They are also simultaneously very sensitive, and a goldfish may try to tank a little nibble out of their fins.
This is particularly true with aggressive goldfish. Ryukin goldfish tank mates especially should not have delicate fins at all.
The final reason of why they would make a horrible tankmate is they are incredibly sensitive.
They need to be kept in special water quality; otherwise, they will die. They are easily one of the least hardy fish you can get for a tropical tank. They need the water pretty warm (where goldfish prefer the water a little cold).
Even though goldfish can manage in tropical temperatures pretty well, they have a reputation for destroying water quality pretty quickly.
4. Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish is a personal favorite. They are short and chubby little catfish that are generally harmless. They also need warm temperatures to thrive and do not do so well out of their range.
In addition to them not being hardy enough to handle the tank conditions your goldfish would prefer, they can also potentially harm them.
Cory cats do have little dorsal spines. They are not venomous or poisonous, but this doesn’t mean they are harmless. If a hungry goldfish tried to swallow one of these fish whole, he might be in for a rude awakening.
The spines could get lost into place, causing internal tears or choking. This could have deadly consequences.
5. Common Pleco
As stated earlier, the common pleco is not the ideal pal for your goldfish. This armored bottom feeder is not a fan of sharing the tank with a goldfish.
It actually has nothing to do with the environment, nor the goldfish getting aggressive with the pleco. While plecos are generally very gentle creatures, there have been reports they are not so friendly with goldfish. Instead, it seems as though they may grow to find their slime coat tasty.
While they won’t eat the goldfish, they may suck away at this natural slime coating. Without out, goldfish are susceptible to infection and disease. It is better to keep them preserved and goldfish away.
Although shrimp can survive with adequate hiding space, they are more like a tasty snack. Generally, if a fish can fit a shrimp into its mouth and it’s not a bottom feeder, it will eat that shrimp (no matter how docile the fish is).
Goldfish are a surprisingly social creature that needs to have some friends to stay happy and healthy.
They make a great and interactive addition to any aquatic community.
Making sure they have the best goldfish tank mates is an important step in the right direction in order to ensure the quality of life for the entire tank.
Did you realize that your goldfish likes companionship so much? Tell us about your goldfish below.