Building a friendly community for your fancy goldfish is both rewarding and challenging. But if you are keen to diversify your aquarium, our must-know tips will help you out.
We will look at fish that can live with goldfish in peace and harmony, and the ones to avoid if you don’t want a disaster on your hands.
Make sure your goldfish is comfortable
Before you go ahead with adding variety to your tank and discovering which fish can live with goldfish, it would be a good idea to ensure that the original residents of your aquarium, the goldies, are feeling nice and cozy.
Despite goldfish being a popular choice for many beginners in the aquarium hobby, they are rather picky and tend to do well under the care of experienced fish hobbyists. And the very first thing to check off is the tank.
For a goldfish to live its best life, you will need a tank that is at least 75 liters (or 20 gallons); add 37 liters (10 gallons) for every additional fish that you plan to put in the aquarium.
It does sound like a lot for a seemingly little tank dweller, but considering that goldfish have relatively long lifespans, it makes sense to give them enough space to wander.
Then, as you might already know, goldies can be messy. A smaller aquarium will mean more water changes and more stress for the fish.
Smaller fish tanks will eventually deprive your pet goldfish of a sufficient amount of oxygen since they tend to consume more due to their bulky structure.
Another factor to keep in mind when choosing fish that can live with goldfish is the water temperature.
Goldies thrive in freshwater that balances between 21 to 24 Celsius (70-75 F). Anywhere beyond this temperature range is uncomfortable for the shiny swimmers and potentially lethal.
Many popular aquarium fish choices, such as bettas or gouramis, will be too cold swimming with goldfish.
However, the tank size and the water temperature are not the only factors to consider when evaluating tank mates for goldfish. There are several specific characteristics to consider when selecting fish that can live with goldfish.
Required characteristics of fish that can live with Goldfish
Three factors can help you identify whether you are looking at a fish that can live with goldfish comfortably. And lucky for you, they are all pretty basic.
So, to make sure that your goldfish is both safe itself and doesn’t pose any danger to its neighbors, consider the following.
For one, your goldfish is a little explorer, which means it will nibble on anything that fits in its mouth, including small fish and creatures, as well as fry.
Besides the apparent loss of other pets, gobbling other tankmates can be dangerous to the goldfish as well since even the small swimmers sometimes pack sharp bones in their fins and spines.
Bigger fish, on the other hand, can eat up the food before the goldfish can even get to it and bully them.
The rule of thumb is to go for fish that are either roughly of the same length as the goldfish or the ones that are both small and fast enough to outswim the goldfish.
As mentioned above, when opting for small fish, go for those that can swim faster than the goldfish.
What about bigger tank mates?
Unfortunately, in most cases, bigger fish that can swim fast will terrorize the goldies. So, if you are going for a bigger fish, you need to make sure that it’s slow.
Finally, there are fish that regularly pick fights with their kind and even those outside. This territorial behavior is typical among bettas, cichlids, and barbs.
Despite occasionally swallowing small fish, goldies are very peaceful, so pairing them with hostile neighbors is a bad idea.
Now, that you know the general requirements for finding fish that can live with goldfish, it’s time to get specific and list the most suitable tank mates for your fancy goldfish.
10 types of fish that can live with goldfish
1. Brochis Multiradiatus
Technically Brochis Multiradiatus, also known as Hog-Nosed Catfish or Corydoras Multiradiatus, fall under the category of cory fish which are typically too small to live with goldfish.
However, the Hog-Nosed Catfish grows up to 10 cm (4 inches) and, therefore, is too big for the goldy to eat.
These fish are very peaceful and also serve as a great help in keeping the aquarium bottom clean.
Finally, the Brochis thrive in a very similar temperature with goldfish—21-24C (or 70-75F), so they will feel at home sharing a tank with your goldies.
2. Longfin Rosy Barbs
Yes, the majority of barbs are too aggressive to keep with goldfish, despite the same preferences towards water quality and temperature.
However, the Longfin Rosy Barbs are an exception – they do have a solid chance at peacefully coexisting with goldies, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
First, getting the longfin kind is essential, as they tend to be slower, giving your goldfish a fair shot at the food.
Also, it’s best to keep the Rosy Barbs in schools of at least five, or better yet ten and predominantly female. This way, both the goldfish and the barbs can live next to each other without too much interference.
3. Hillstream Loach
This loach is an excellent addition to a goldfish habitat.
The two species have a lot in common, including the same water temperature preference, inclination to eat algae, and clean scraps of food from the aquarium bottom.
Most flat-bodied loaches also look peculiar enough to compete with the stunning shine of a goldfish.
As a pleasant bonus, a loach can grip onto the wall of an aquarium, making it impossible for the goldies to harm them in any way.
Finally, Hillstream Loaches are very peaceful and won’t mind having a goldfish as a neighbor, especially if the tank is big enough.
4. Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios can be good companions for the regular goldfish.
Danios are small, just under 5 cm (2 inches), but fast enough to win a race against a slow-moving goldfish.
However, due to the size of these tiny fish, you need to realize that there is still a high level of risk when putting them into a goldfish aquarium.
To reduce the danger level for the danios, try installing a couple of tall artificial plants into the tank. This way, the small fish will have sufficient hiding space.
Another tip for a successful danio-goldfish friendship is to keep danios in schools of at least five. However, please don’t mix them with fancy goldfish as the Zebra Danios, may end up eating all the food.
5. Bristlenose Pleco
You can add a Bristlenose Pleco to a community aquarium, but there is a risk that the pleco may suck on the slime coat that covers the body of the goldfish in search of nutrients. There is, however, a way to fix and prevent this.
When a Bristlenose starts feeding on the slime coat of the goldfish, chances are they are not getting enough food. Whether you are underfeeding the fish all together, or goldies are outswimming the plecos during feeding time, the solution is to find a way to keep everyone fed and happy.
Luckily for you, plecos are perfectly fine with nighttime meals. Just wait for the goldfish to calm after the light is out and provide a meal specific to the pleco’s requirements.
6. Dojo Loach
Another loach on this list, the Dojo, is perfect for your goldfish, but only if the tank is big enough.
Dojo Loach can reach up to 30 cm (12 inches) in length and has to be kept in groups of at least three. Hence, you need a minimum of 285 liters (75 gallons) to accommodate the loaches along with the goldfish comfortably.
Other than the size, Dojos are very rewarding to have in your tank as they do a great job as cleaners and maintain a nocturnal lifestyle.
While the Dojo spends the day buried in the sand, the goldfish has plenty of space to roam around and explore the tank freely.
7. Variatus Platy
While most platys are a tropical species, the Variatus Platy feels perfectly comfortable in colder water temperatures that the goldfish also prefers.
The characteristics of the Variatus Platy such as 6 cm length, indifference to the goldfish (when kept in groups of at least three), ability to swim fast, and the wide choice of color variations, make it a right candidate for a goldfish tank.
However, if you are looking to breed the platys, you’ll need to think about setting up a separate tank for the fry to develop.
Platys give birth to live little fish, which can be eaten by both the parents and the curious goldfish. The same goes for not-yet-adult platys. So, setting up an additional tank for the fry would be the most optimal solution.
8. Giant Danios
Giant Danios are pretty much the older brothers of Zebra Danios described above, only bigger.
Growing up to 10 cm (4 inches) long and needing a company of at least four other danios, your tank has to be at least 115 litres (30 gallons) to ensure everyone’s comfort.
Another point to consider is the speed at which danios can swim, which can become an obstacle for the goldfish during feeding time.
One way to get around this problem is to use a mixture of floating and sinking food. This way, the goldies will happily feed off the bottom and not gulp on too much air, while danios can munch on the surface.
9. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
These Minnows are genuinely tiny, growing to only up to 4cm (or 1.5 inches), so they will need to count on their speed to survive alongside goldfish.
However, they are so fast that the racing is never really an issue in this coexisting arrangement.
The keeper’s task is to have at least five Minnows in the tank, supply tall artificial plants for hiding, and establish a diet tailored to the White Cloud’s small mouths.
10. Hoplo Catfish
Despite its devilish looks, the Hoplo Catfish would make a very peaceful companion for your goldfish.
They grow up to 15 cm (6 inches) long, which is too much for the goldy to swallow.
Like many others on this list, the Hoplo Catfish also does an excellent job of cleaning/eating scraps.
In the wild, Hoplos thrive in communities of over a thousand fish, so you might want to keep them in a group of at least five to ensure their comfort.
The above is not an exclusive list of fish that can live with goldfish successfully. Goldfish, are generally compatible with a vast number of species, but you need to consider the variety of your goldfish before making a choice.
If you carefully account for all factors, even the tiny colorful guppies can thrive alongside the goldfish.
Now, just before we wrap up, let’s briefly review five fish that absolutely cannot coexist with the goldies.
1. Common Plecos
While you can prevent the Bristlenose from sucking on the slime coat of the goldfish by catering to its nutritional requirements, a Common Pleco would not skip the opportunity. This can result in severe infections for your goldies.
Besides their preference towards warmer water, bettas are just too aggressive to pair up with the peace-loving goldfish.
Just like the bettas, mollies need warmer water and can injure and stress the goldfish with their hostility.
These guys also like warmer water, but a bigger deal-breaker is the mess that goldfish tend to create. You need to stay on top of the water changes, or the tetras will end up instantly stressed.
And concluding this list is yet another overly-aggressive predator with a preference for warmer water.
You can spice up your goldfish tank by adding a few companions but make sure that all residents are happy and able to get along.
Don’t be impulsive in your choice; doing a bit of research will help you to have a peaceful community tank and save you time and money in the long run.