It’s possible to find a suitable tank mate for a goldfish but you can’t just add any species!
There are a few very important things to keep in mind.
First, any fish added to the tank has to thrive in the same environment as the goldfish, most notably in water temperatures of 65ºF to 75ºF.
Just as importantly, the fish have to get along. What exactly does that mean?
A few things: the new fish won’t harm the goldfish, the goldfish won’t be able to eat the new fish, and the goldfish will still have the space it needs to grow.
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What Fish Can Live With Goldfish?
If you’re thinking about adding tank mates to live with your goldfish, there are a few really great options. These fish can all thrive in a similar rank environment and can live alongside goldfish in peace.
8 Goldfish Tank Mates List
1. Other Goldfish
Adding another goldfish of the same size and variety is one of the easiest ways to add another fish to your goldfish tank.
Just remember that goldfish are omnivores and can be predatory. It’s important that tank mates are evenly matched.
Be very careful about size. Large goldfish will eat smaller ones so they should be roughly the same size.
Also, fancy goldfish tend to move more slowly than common ones and likely won’t be able to compete for food.
2. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
The main reason that white cloud mountain minnows are a good fit with goldfish is because they’re cold water fish that will do well in the same environment as goldfish.
They’re schooling fish and don’t do well on their own so you’ll have to add at least 3, although 6 is better.
White cloud mountain minnows are also really fast and can usually outswim goldfish which makes it less likely that they’ll become prey.
3. Rosy Barbs
Rosy Barbs like the same type of water as goldfish. They also grow to be able 4 to 6 inches long so they’re a good size match, too.
They’re not an aggressive fish and will leave your goldfish alone and they’re too big for your goldfish to eat.
Keep in mind that rosy barbs are schooling fish and get very stressed if alone or in small groups. They should be kept in groups of at least 6.
4. Rubbernose and Bristlenose Plecos
Both a rubbernose or bristlenose pleco make great tank mates for a goldfish. Plecos are calm fish who will generally leave your goldfish alone.
They spend most of their day eating algae from rocks and grass, which also helps keep your tank clean.
Stay away from common plecos as there are reports that they have a habit of sucking the slime coat off of goldfish.
5. Weather or Dojo Loaches
Weather Loaches, or Dojo Loaches, are another great choice because they’re cold water fish that thrive in the same type of environment.
These loaches need to be kept in groups of 3 or more and enjoy burrowing, so make sure they’re provided with fine gravel or sand substrate.
Loaches require a lot of space of their own, too, so you’ll need a pretty large tank to house them with goldfish.
6. Zebra Danios
A good match for regular goldfish since they like the same water temperature and are fast enough to outswim them if they get hungry.
That said, they shouldn’t be mixed with fancy goldfish because they’re so fast, they’ll likely eat all their food.
Zebra Danios are schooling fish and need to be kept in groups of 6 or more.
7. Apple Snails
One of the most common snails available in pet stores is the apple snail.
It’s one of few freshwater snail species that’s adapted well to life in captivity and it’s also great tank mate for a goldfish.
While a goldfish might be tempted to try to eat an apple snail, their hard shell and size make it next to impossible.
This pairing works best if the snail is introduced to the tank when the goldfish is young so it gets used to sharing its space.
8. Ghost and Cherry Shrimp
Shrimp are another animal that can do well with a goldfish, specifically ghost shrimp or red cherry shrimp.
Ghost shrimp are small and usually sold as food for other fish. They’re an interesting addition to any tank and won’t cause any harm to the goldfish.
Red cherry shrimp are a great choice because they’re algae eaters and can help keep the tank clean.
While red cherry shrimp breed quickly, they also serve as food for the goldfish so it’s possible to keep the population balanced.
When keeping shrimp in a tank with your goldfish, make sure to add a lot of caves and decorations. This gives them a place to hide and helps them survive as long as possible.
What Fish Cannot Live with Goldfish?
To understand what fish cannot live with goldfish, you have to consider both the environment that the fish thrive in and their personalities.
We’ve already mentioned that goldfish thrive in water temperatures ranging from 65ºF to 75ºF. This rules out any tropical fish as a potential tank mate because their temperature is just too low for them to thrive.
That said, it might be tempting to try to mix the two anyway by keeping the temperature somewhere in the middle of the ideal range for the two. This isn’t really a good idea as it doesn’t give any of the fish optimal living conditions.
Here are some specific types of fish to avoid and what makes them incompatible:
- Common Plecos. While rubbernose and bristlenose plecos seem to do just fine with goldfish, problems can arise with common plecos. They can take to sucking the slime coat off of goldfish. This leaves them at high risk for infection.
- Corydoras. There have been reports that corydoras are also prone to sucking the slime coat from the goldfish. They can also be quite aggressive which is something you should avoid when looking for a tank mate.
- Cichlids. Because they are aggressive predators, cichlids don’t mix well with goldfish. Though goldfish are predators, they’re not particularly aggressive and would be easy prey for a more hostile cichlid
- Bettas. In addition to preferring a warmer environment, bettas are a very aggressive fish that might attack the goldfish or, at the very least, nip at their fins.
- Other species of goldfish. More specifically, common goldfish do not mix well with fancy goldfish. Fancy goldfish are much slower and more fragile. They would struggle to get enough food and might even be targeted by a common goldfish.
- Tetras. Not only do tetras prefer warmer water, they also have a hard time living with messy goldfish. It’s not always easy to keep the water balanced in a goldfish tank tetras can have a difficult time coping.
- Mollies. Mollies are also a tropical fish that won’t get on with the cooler water that a goldfish prefers. They’re also very aggressive and will most likely attack your goldfish. Not only can this lead to injury, it will really stress the goldfish.
How Many Fish Should You Keep in Your Goldfish Tank?
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the size of tank you need for goldfish because the tank size directly affects how many other fish you can add.
Unfortunately, most people underestimate how much room a goldfish needs. A small fish bowl is not enough.
What Size Tank Do I Need for Goldfish?
Believe it or not, you need, at minimum, a 20-gallon tank for a goldfish. That might seem like a lot but considering they can live up to 20 years, it’s important to give them a home where they can thrive.
One of the main reasons goldfish need a bigger tank is because they’re messy. The smaller the tank, the more work you’re going to have to do to keep the water clean. That means more water changes and a consistently stressed out goldfish.
If you want to add more goldfish, you need an even larger tank. Add 10 more gallons for each goldfish you add.
As you can see, keeping only a handful of goldfish can actually require a pretty large tank! But why?
For one thing, goldfish are very bulky. They’re not thin and streamlined, they’re chunky and work a little harder to cut through the water. That means they use more oxygen. Goldfish also grow quickly and get pretty big which requires even more oxygen.
This is one reason that fish bowls are particularly bad for goldfish. There’s not enough oxygen for them and there’s not enough space to add the necessary filtration needed to keep the water clean.
So, what size tank should you get?
The best advice is to get the largest tank you can afford. A goldfish will do okay in a 5-gallon tank but they won’t develop properly and will have a much shorter life.
Goldish were designed to grow to be more the 8-inches long but will only get there if they’re given the right environment.
How Many Fish Can I Add to a Goldfish Tank?
So, once you have a tank that’s big enough for your goldfish, you’re probably ready to start adding its tank mates.
Overcrowding has a lot of serious health effects. The more fish you have, the faster the water quality goes downhill. Plus, fish start to get aggressive when they’re overcrowded which leads to injury and possible infection.
How many fish you can add to a goldfish tank depends on the kind of fish. The best thing to do is to spend time researching the fish you’re thinking about adding to determine how much room they need.
It’s a good idea to follow the rule for how much space your goldfish needs then add additional gallons to accommodate the additional fish. Why?
Because goldfish are a pretty messy fish, overcrowding will quickly lead to dirty water.
Carefully research the type of fish you’re thinking about adding and make sure they have the space they need, too. If you choose a schooling fish, make sure you add enough so that they’re happy in their new home.
It’s not easy to build a community tank around a goldfish but, with careful planning, it can be done. A carefully planned combination of fish in the right environment can make a successful aquarium that’s fun to watch.
The most important thing is to make sure you’re using a tank that’s large enough for all of your fish to thrive. Remember, goldfish require a lot of room for themselves. Keeping them in a tank that’s too small hinders their growth and shortens their lifespan.