As some of you probably know, there are some not-so-great aquatic Goldfish tank mates. Unfortunately, pet stores don't always give accurate advice on keeping fish with goldfish.
This can be due to the fact that selling just one type of goldfish may be more profitable for them than selling an entire tank of mixed-species/breeds.
A lot of people like goldfish because they're pretty and very easy to take care of. While these are certainly positive traits, it's important to remember that goldfish need companionship as much as we do, or at least we think they do.
Sooner or later, your fish will likely die alone, and it'll be your fault. But how can you tell what companions are right for goldfish?
You don't want to go through the trouble of picking one out only to find it's incompatible with your fishy friends. What you need is a list, and this article will provide just that!
Table of Contents
- Origin of Goldfish
- Requirements For Goldfish Tank
- Types Of Goldfish
- List of Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates
- List of Non-Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates
Origin of Goldfish
Goldfish were originally bred from the Prussian carp or Gibel Carp, Carassius auratus. They were first domesticated in China and later introduced to Europe via trade ships.
These fish are very hardy and long-lived, provided they're well cared for by their owner. There are some breeds of goldfish that can grow up to 12 inches, but most stay smaller due to the overfeeding of people who don't know any better (or don't care).
Goldfish are actually very smart, and they're constantly learning new things. They can be taught to do special tricks, like swimming through hoops or pushing balls into a net. You can even train them to eat out of your hand.
The largest goldfish on record is 22 inches long and was caught in China in the year 2000.
Requirements For Goldfish Tank
- Soft, acidic water conditions are recommended. This can be achieved with reverse osmosis or bottled water.
- Will likely require their own tank for one or two of the same species/breed.
- Can't live at a temperature too far below that of your aquarium unless you're willing to provide an external heater just for the tank.
- Cannot live in a substrate (gravel/sand).
- Last but not least, you don't want to overcrowd the tank. All fish need places to hide and rest safely.
- Tank needs to be at least 10 gallons for 1 goldfish.
Types Of Goldfish
Fantail goldfish are the most popular types of goldfish. They have two very large tail fins that droop down and curve back under to create a teardrop shape. Because of this, they're called the "fantail."
The Ryukin is a unique type of goldfish. It has a large hump on its back just behind the head, which you can only see when it flares out its tail fins.
A Chinese Goldfish or Black Moor will generally have a longer body with short stubby fins and an upturned mouth (like the one in the picture). It's surrounded by a large black "mask" above the eyes.
The Bubble Eye has googly-eyes and is exactly what it sounds like: It's an eye with a bubble under it.
List of Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates
It depends on the tank size and water temperature. Generally, anything small enough to fit in your fish's mouth will be considered food.
So this includes guppies, mollies, platys, tetras, etc. These are all great choices if you plan on getting a larger aquarium or can maintain 2 different tanks for each type of fish you have/want.
You also want to leave the bottom-dwellers alone. Goldfish produce a lot of waste, so anything in the substrate will eventually suffocate or be destroyed by the water (nitrate, ammonia).
Goldfish are cold-water fish, so anything tropical or subtropical will need a heater. If your fish refuse to eat anything other than bloodworms, try getting some freeze-dried tubifex worms.
It may help if you scald them first before throwing them into the tank. Also, remember that goldfish appreciate colder water, so a heater isn't an absolute must.
The following list below contains the 13 best Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates :
1. Bushynose Catfish
This catfish is very similar to Ancistrus dolichopterus in terms of care and water requirements. However, it's slightly smaller in size (~2-3 inches).
These fish are peaceful (somewhat shy when kept with boisterous tank mates), like gravel or sand substrate, appreciate cooler water, and are nocturnal.
2. Ancistrus dolichopterus
These catfish are very peaceful and easy to care for due to their hardy nature and relatively simple requirements (gravel/sand substrate, cool water).
They grow larger than bushy nose catfish but are just as shy when kept with boisterous tank mates. The bristles on their face/head feel sorta like a cross between sandpaper and a toothbrush.
NEVER keep 2 male or 2 female Ancistrus together in a tank–they will fight! If you see them bickering, keep them separated immediately.
3. Clown Loach
These fish are very peaceful and active during the day, so they'll do well with other large, nocturnal fish. They also look a lot like goldfish! They eat just about anything you give them but should be supplemented with algae wafers, sinking pellets, etc. Clown loaches grow to about 4-5 inches long as adults.
4. Kuhli Loach
These fish are some of the best choices for community tanks with goldfish or other larger aquarium residents since they're easy to care for and non-aggressive.
They like a soft substrate (they like to burrow), as well as subdued lighting (provided by floating plants, overhanging rocks, etc.).
5. Siamese Algae Eaters
These fish can be very shy when kept in a tank with boisterous tank mates, but they're otherwise peaceful (and small enough to fit into tanks that are the same size as the goldfish's). They also eat algae.
6. Zebra Danio
These fish are active during the day, so they'll do best with larger fish that are active at night. They eat just about anything, so go ahead and supplement their diet with sinking pellets or algae wafers.
7. Cory Catfish
These catfish are active during the day, peaceful fish that can be kept with goldfish as long as they have enough space to hide from their fin-nippers.
Nannostomus trifasciatus (often sold under its old scientific name, Nannostomus beckfordi ), 1/4+ inch long- These beautiful fish are very peaceful, active during the day (and sometimes at night), and stay small. They're also good choices for planted tanks with subdued lighting.
8. Celestial Pearl Danio
These fast little fish are extremely peaceful, active during the day, and look good in tanks with subdued lighting.
They won't eat the algae off your plants, but they'll graze on it just enough to help. They also look good in planted tanks without subdued lighting, but they will cause more algae problems than they solve if you don't have floating plants to reduce the light levels slightly.
9. Leopard Danio
These fish are very easy to care for, active during the day, and great algae eaters. They're also peaceful towards tank mates with larger fins (like goldfish), but they can be nippy towards tank mates with small or thin fins (like other danios).
10. Common Pleco
These fish are some of the best algae eaters around and can also be used as large companions for goldfish. They're durable and will adapt to just about any water condition.
11. Cardinal Tetra
These beautiful, peaceful fish come in a brilliant shade of red with blue fins. They like planted tanks with subdued lighting (provided by floating plants).
12. Glowlight Rasbora
Like other rasboras, these are active during the day and peaceful. They look good in planted tanks with subdued lighting.
13. Cherry Barb
These fish are very easy to care for, active during the day, peaceful, and beautiful. They're also good companions for goldfish in tanks that have enough hiding places for both of them.
List of Non-Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates
Goldfish are big eaters and like to scavenge for stuff in the bottom of the tank. Even well-fed fish will try to eat their tank mates when given a chance, and it usually isn't pleasant for the victim.
Avoid keeping them with any other type of fish that shares similar dietary habits or is much smaller than they are (i.e., fancy goldfish with feeder fish).
Goldfish are also very messy eaters. This can cause problems with tank mates that like to sift through the gravel for food (i.e., loaches, plecos). Loaches and plecos are some of the best choices for companions with goldfish, so if you ever see either on sale at your local pet store, pick one up!
Alright, so you've found yourself a nice tank mate for your goldfish. Now what? First of all, introduce them, in the same manner you would any other fish (equipment-wise).
Next, feed your goldfish and its friend(s), then spend time observing them in the tank. If everything goes well after a week or 2, consider yourself lucky and enjoy your fish!
If, for some reason, you think everything isn't going well (e.g., one of the fish seems "stressed," is getting picked on, etc.), set up another tank and move them to their own quarters immediately. You really don't want to mix species if you can avoid it unless you have an extremely large tank.
Goldfish tanks are usually pretty big, so placing more than one species in a single tank is generally not advised. However, if you must keep multiple types of fish together (e.g., 2 goldfish and 1 loach), be sure to provide enough hiding spaces for all of them.
This is necessary because some fish get stressed when they don't have a place to hide, and this can lead to aggression/bickering among tank mates.
For your convenience, the following list contains Non-Compatible Goldfish Tank Mates
1. Gourami Fish
Gourami fish are very territorial and particularly aggressive towards one another. They'll be fine in tanks without other inhabitants, but they'll fight to the death whenever they're close enough to one another for their finnage to tangle (which will happen eventually if you keep them together). They should only be used as tank decorations.
2. Neon Tetra
Neon tetras are very small fish that will be eaten by large tank mates (like goldfish). They'll also annoy your goldfish because they're fast swimmers and will dart in front of them from time to time.
However, they'll do fine as tank decorations if there's enough space between the front glass of a tank and the front of the hood for them to dart back and forth in.
3. Blood Parrot
Blood Parrots are especially aggressive and territorial. Avoid keeping them with any other type of fish that shares similar dietary habits or is much smaller than they are (i.e., fancy goldfish with feeder fish).
Loaches and plecos are some of the best choices for companions with goldfish, so if you ever see either on sale at your local pet store, pick one up! However, this isn't always a good idea because loaches and goldfish are both nocturnal, so they may not always get along.
Killifish are generally territorial, but their diets differ slightly from goldfish. They're also very small fish that will be eaten by larger tank mates (like goldfish).
Most killifish are either much too small or not very active swimmers, so they're an easy target for goldfish.
If you're looking for goldfish tank mates, look no further. These species will live well with goldfish and not be eaten or bullied by them.
This article is intended as a helpful guide to those who want to learn more about how to choose tank mates for their goldfish. It's not intended as an authoritative list of "The Best Tank Companions for Goldfish."
In the end, goldfish are relatively peaceful creatures when it comes to tank mates. Just keep in mind that you should only add fish that have similar water temperatures and provide them with a large enough aquarium so they'll always have a place to hide if they feel threatened.
Always avoid crabs, crayfish, and fish that are much smaller in size than your goldfish.