The Best Goldfish Tank Mates (Safe & Compatible)

Featured Image - Goldfish Tank Mates
Featured Image – Goldfish Tank Mates
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: April 12, 2024
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Whether you’re just starting out with your first goldfish or you’re an experienced aquarium lover wanting to improve one of your beloved aquariums, adding intriguing new fish species to your goldfish tank can be a captivating and interesting task. Keep reading to learn about our top 15 recommendations for additional inhabitants in your goldfish tank and the justifications for these selections.

Article Summary

  • Goldfish are peaceful freshwater fish that can coexist with other tank mates as long as you choose non-aggressive species that thrive in the goldfish’s optimal environment.
  • Goldfish can be content on their own in their tanks as long as they receive sufficient enrichment, such as changing tank decor or providing food in a challenging manner.
  • Best tank mates for goldfish are other goldfish, Zebra Danios, Giant Danios, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Bristlenose Plecos, Mystery Snails, Dojo Loach, Banded Corydoras, Platy, Hillstream Loach, Hog-Nosed Brochis, Black Skirt Tetra, Cherry Barb, Japanese rice fish, and Hoplo Catfish.

Can goldfish have tankmates?

Yes, goldfish are peaceful freshwater fish that do well with various tank mates. When selecting tank mates, it’s important to choose non-aggressive species who will all thrive in the goldfish’s optimal environment. Continue reading to learn about some of the aquarium species we recommend you pair with your goldfish!

Do Goldfish Eat Other Fish?

Goldfish are natural omnivores, which means their diet consists of a mixture of plant matter, meat, small fish, fish eggs, and even decomposing plant and animal matter.

When keeping goldfish with other fish it is important to note that little fish can be eaten by curious or hungry goldfish. While some of the best goldfish tank mates are small, they are also fast meaning they can outswim and escape your goldfish.

If you are housing one of these smaller tank mates with your goldfish it is vital that you provide them plenty of hiding places to escape throughout the tank. Additionally, to ensure the safety of the small tankmates, it’s advisable to provide ample food for your goldfish, as a hungry goldfish may perceive them as appetizing treats.

Do goldfish get lonely without tankmates?

No, goldfish are quite happy on their own in their tanks or even in a fish bowl as long as sufficient enrichment is being provided. Enrichment can include changing decor inside the goldfish tank, and placing food in an ice cube challenging the goldfish to nip at it while the ice dissolves. Some goldfish owners have been known to teach their fish tricks to provide mental stimulation.

What fish can you put with a goldfish

Good goldfish tank mates will be freshwater fish with similar water parameters to whatever variety of goldfish you are keeping. We’ve included a list below of things to consider when choosing your other fish as well as a list of our top 15 best goldfish tank mates.

Things to consider

When looking for tank mates there are several factors you should take into account, read more about each below.

Tank Size

Goldfish add a significant bioload to any tank they stay in because of their messiness and large amount of waste produced, making it essential to have a filtration system to maintain the tank water quality. When choosing tank mates for your goldfish tank ensure that the tank size is not only big enough for each species to swim around, but that you will not overwhelm the bioload of the tank by adding a goldfish tank mate.

A good rule of thumb for determining the appropriate size of a goldfish tank is to allocate a minimum of 10 gallons per individual goldfish. Therefore, if you intend to care for two goldfish, a tank of at least 20 gallons would be necessary, and additional space should be provided for any additional tank companions.

Goldfish Breed

Each breed or variety of goldfish have slightly different requirements when it comes to tank setup and tank mates.

For example, common goldfish swim much faster than some fancy goldfish varieties such as the black moor. Additionally, depending on the breed you may need to take additional considerations when setting up your goldfish tank and choosing the best goldfish tank mates. The bubble eye goldfish has delicate eye sacs filled with fluid that can lead to infection if popped. Therefore adding decorations with sharp edges and choosing a tank mate that has a tendency for nipping would not be recommended.

Tankmate Size

Goldfish are apt to eat any fish that can fit in its mouth. Therefore, knowing how big your goldfish can get is a good starting point when choosing goldfish tank mates.

Good goldfish tank mates should be large enough that adult fish cannot eat them or fast enough to escape. Fish such as white cloud mountain minnows are able to live with goldfish because they are fast swimmers and are schooling fish which discourages goldfish from attacking.

Tankmate Tank Requirements

When searching for the best goldfish tank mates be sure to take into account each individual fish species needs. As goldfish are cold-watered species you will need another cold water fish or a species that tolerates a wide range of temperatures. Water pH, hardness, and flow rate should also be similar to goldfish’s standards.

Tankmate Temperament

Aggressive tank mates and territorial fish will not do well with goldfish, especially fancy goldfish that are more fragile. As goldfish are a peaceful species they don’t have any defenses and won’t appreciate being nipped. Bully fish that nip goldfish fins, or tail will likely stress your goldfish out and be detrimental to its health.

Tankmate Activity Level

One wonderful thing about goldfish is that they have a wide variety of needs. Some slower fancy goldfish like the oranda goldfish will enjoy tank mates that are on the more relaxed side, whereas comet goldfish enjoy chasing other pet fish around the tank. There are approximately 200 recognized varieties of goldfish and each will have their own preferences. Research your particular goldfish breed to find the best tank mate for them.

Tankmate Swimming Speed

Goldfish tank mates that are smaller and are at risk of being eaten should be able to swim faster than your goldfish. However, larger fish that can hold their own such as dojo loaches are able to swim at any speed.

What are the best tank mates for goldfish

There are many options when it comes to goldfish tank mates, but the most important consideration is what will make this peaceful fish feel most comfortable. Finding a suitable tank mate with a similar natural habitat and temperament is the best way to ensure a good match.

1. Other Goldfish

Goldfish inside Aquarium
Carassius auratus

Scientific name: Carassius auratus

Care Level: Beginner

Size: Varies

Required Tank Size: >20 gallons, varies between species

Similar goldfish make excellent tank mates for other goldfish. When choosing other goldfish tank mates be sure to take into account swimming capabilities. More active fish such as the comet goldfish will often bully their slower swimming goldfish companions such as the bubble eye goldfish.

2. Zebra Danios 

A pair of zebra danio
Danio rerio

Scientific name: Danio rerio

Care Level: Beginner

Size: 2 inches

Required Tank Size: 15 gallons

These tiny fish can be suitable goldfish tank mates as long as you have a slow moving goldfish. With their blue and yellow stripes they are especially complimentary to varieties with bright orange coloration. Due to their small size, keeping zebra danios with goldfish can lead to the goldfish eating the danios, however they are fairly fast and can outswim most slower goldfish. Additionally, zebra danios will do well in a goldfish tank that is heavily planted.

3. Giant Danios 

Devario aequipinnatus
(1) Devario aequipinnatus

Scientific name: Devario aequipinnatus

Care Level: Beginner

Size: 4 inches

Required Tank Size: 30 gallons

Giant danios are an ideal goldfish tank mate as they need similar environmental conditions to the goldfish. However, they are schooling fish and can be easily stressed if there isn’t enough space in the tank.

4. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnow
(2) Tanichthys albonubes

Scientific name: Tanichthys albonubes

Care Level: Beginner

Size:1.5 inches

Required Tank Size: 10 gallons

Another small fish that thrives in similar conditions as the goldfish and makes suitable tank mates. The white cloud mountain minnow will have to rely on its speed and school size to escape curious goldfish.

TIP

Just because white cloud minnows can fit in small tanks doesn’t mean your goldfish tank should be small. Adhere to the largest minimum tank size out of all of the fish species in your aquarium.

5. Bristlenose Plecos

Bushynose Pleco
Ancistrus cirrhosus

Scientific Name: Ancistrus cirrhosus

Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Size: 4 to 5 inches

Required Tank Size: 30 gallons

These fish can live together provided the aquarium is adequately spaced. They are both large fish and require a large amount of food and space, as well as hiding spots for them to sleep or to get away from each other. Bristlenose plecos can be considered territorial, but this should not be much of a problem as long as the two species have a large tank.

TIP

Pleco’s are known to suck the slime coat off of goldfish when they are lacking in nutrition, particularly in protein. Whether you are keeping a bristlenose pleco, rubber lip pleco, or other pleco it is absolutely vital to keep your pleco full and happy. A diet of sinking pellets, algae wafers, and live or frozen food is best.

6. Mystery Snails

Mystery Snails on Aquarium Glass
Pomacea bridgesii

Scientific name: Pomacea bridgesii

Care Level: Beginner

Size:1.5 inches

Required Tank Size: 5 gallons

Mystery snails or the apple snail are great goldfish tank mates as long as the snails are already adult sized. Very large goldfish such as the shubunkin or common can easily eat freshwater snails.

RECOMMENDATION

Other freshwater snails that do well with most goldfish include Netrite and Japanese Trapdoor snails.

7. Dojo Loach

Dojo Loach
Misgurnus anguillicaudatus

Scientific name: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus

Care Level: Beginner

Size:10-12 inches

Required Tank Size: 75 gallons

Also known as a weather loach, dojo loaches make good tank mates for your goldfish and a popular choice among goldfish keepers, but if you’re not willing to commit to a 75+ gallon goldfish tank they are not for you. The dojo loach or weather loach will spend most of its day swimming along the substrate and eating leftover food.

8. Banded Corydoras

A pair of banded corydoras
(3) Scleromystax barbatus

Scientific name: Scleromystax barbatus

Care Level: Beginner

Size:4 inches

Required Tank Size: 30 gallons

Another species of freshwater catfish that do well in cooler temperatures and community tanks. This lively fish will spend its days swimming along the bottom of the tank searching for food and can be quite enjoyable to watch.

9. Platy

Xiphophorus-maculatus
(4) Xiphophorus maculatus

Scientific name: Xiphophorus maculatus

Care Level: Beginner

Size:2.5 inches

Required Tank Size: 20 gallons

While a smaller fish, the platy fish is a well known tank mate for community tanks as they are peaceful and will help eat food scraps your goldfish might leave behind. However, the platy fish is an aggressive fish when it comes to eating and you will need to make sure that other species in the same tank are getting enough nutrition.

10. Hillstream Loach

Tiger hillstream loaches (Sewellia lineolata) together on a rock, close-up
Sewellia lineolata

Scientific name: Sewellia lineolata

Care Level: Beginner

Size: 2-3 inches

Required Tank Size: 20 gallons

The hillstream loach is often referred to as a tropical fish because of its wide temperature range adaptability. Unlike other fish on this list it won’t outcompete your goldfish for food as it mostly eats algae.

11. Hog-Nosed Brochis

Hog-Nosed Brochis
(5) Brochis multiradiatus

Scientific name: Brochis multiradiatus

Care Level: Beginner

Size:4 inches

Required Tank Size: 30 gallons

This freshwater fish comes from the same family as corydoras catfish and are excellent additions to many goldfish tanks. Generally thought of as a tropical fish their lower temperature range overlaps with goldfish. They have spiny dorsal fins, and are relatively large in size which means hungry and curious goldfish will mostly leave them alone.

12. Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra
Gymnocorymbus ternetzi

Scientific name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi

Care Level: Beginner

Size: 3 inches

Required Tank Size: 20 gallons

This schooling fish requires a tank size that is large enough to hold at least 6 tetras. This fish is big enough to discourage goldfish from eating it and its darker coloring will provide a good contrast for your more colorful fish.

13. Cherry Barb

Cherry barb near aquarium substrate
Puntius titteya

Scientific name: Puntius titteya

Care Level: Beginner

Size: 2 inches

Required Tank Size: 30 gallon

As another peaceful and docile fish the cherry barb gets along quite well with goldfish. You should wait until they’re adult sized before introducing them to your tank as they are a bit small, but they are schooling which generally discourages goldfish from making them a snack. Additionally cherry barbs require a temperature between 74 and 80, which is at the very top of a goldfish range. This can be tricky to manage but their fiery red color and personality make for a great tank addition.

14. Japanese rice fish

Japanese rice fish - Oryzias_latipes
(6) Oryzias latipes

Scientific name: Oryzias latipes

Care Level: Beginner

Size:1.5 inches

Required Tank Size:10 gallons

These two fish can live together easily, though it is recommended that you observe them at first to ensure that your goldfish doesn’t try to eat the Japanese rice fish. Both fish have the same diet and water conditions. If you choose this fish as a tank mate we suggest pairing it with a slower swimming goldfish.

15. Hoplo Catfish

Hoplo Catfish - Megalechis_thoracata
(7) Megalechis thoracata

Scientific name: Megalechis thoracata

Care Level: Beginner

Size:6 inches

Required Tank Size: 15 gallons

As long as these two species have a large enough aquarium and are given enough food they will do well together. Both omnivores, these two fish will both spend most of their days scavenging for food along the bottom of the tank.

What fish can not live with goldfish?

While goldfish get along with most freshwater fish, they don’t pair well with everyone. Keep reading to learn about 5 common aquarium fish you should not pair with goldfish.

Angelfish

Angelfish and goldfish have drastic differences in water parameters, and temperament. While angelfish generally live in tropical waters, goldfish prefer colder temperatures. Additionally, angelfish tend to be an aggressive fish, especially if their tank is not big enough.

Corydoras catfish

It is not recommended to keep these two species together as corydoras have spiny fins that can harm the goldfish if it attempts to swallow it.

Betta Fish

There are not many betta fish tank mates, but goldfish are not one of them. These two species are not compatible because of their differences in water parameters, and temperament. Betta fish need tropical temperatures and tend to be territorial and aggressive which is not compatible with goldfish’s docile nature.

Although there are experienced aquarists who have been able to keep goldfish and bettas successfully, I would advise against attempting to do the same without careful consideration of various factors.

Barbs

In general it is a bad idea to keep barbs and goldfish together as barbs tend to be aggressive and territorial. The one exception to this rule is the rosy barbs, a colorful freshwater fish. However, there are a very concise set of circumstances where goldfish and rosy barbs can coexist. Rosy barbs must be kept in a school of five or more, as they can get aggressive if their school is too small. Rosy barbs also provide a splash of color when added to aquariums with goldfish.

Guppies

Technically goldfish and guppies can coexist. However you should not keep guppies in your goldfish tank unless you are using them as feeder fish, as they will get eaten.

How Many Fish Can You Keep with the Goldfish?

You can keep as many tank mates as you have room for in your goldfish tank. When keeping multiple fish in the same tank you should take into account diet requirements, the bioload of the tank, and pay attention to possible stress related diseases due to overcrowding.

Can common goldfish share a tank with fancy goldfish?

We don’t recommend placing common goldfish and fancy goldfish together because of their different personalities and activity levels. Whereas common goldfish are fast swimmers most fancy varieties are slow swimmers which can lead to food competition and aggression and become detrimental to your fish’s health quickly.

What fish to pair with goldfish?

If you’re looking for more recommendations after our list above we also suggest cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp, and bamboo shrimp to add to your tank. Cherry shrimp, ghost and bamboo shrimp can prove to be valuable additions to your tank as they provide supplemental nutrition for your fish.

Can goldfish live with other animals other than fish?

Goldfish can also live with snails and shrimp but do best with other aquatic animals. Terrestrial animals often mistake these pets for food.

Conclusion

While tank mates definitely aren’t necessary for goldfish, they can complement and add stimulation to your goldfish’s day-to-day life.

(1) Faucon, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
(2) © Nicklas Iversen / http://akvaportalen.no
(3) Birger A, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
(4) vxixiv, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
(5) Ltshears, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
(6) Seotaro, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
(7) 7TP (Krzysztof Bartosik), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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