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13 Best Tank Mates for Goldfish (Compatibility Guide 2021)

Nicole Cosgrove

Many people assume that goldfish cannot be kept with other species of fish, but fortunately, they can. Other peaceful fish and invertebrates can be successfully kept with goldfish if they are also a cold-water species. Goldfish are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby and they are colorful fish that come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Goldfish are generally considered peaceful fish that should live in large aquariums or a pond. Since goldfish should live in such large bodies of water, it is important to ensure that the tank mates can live in similar conditions for both species to thrive appropriately.

This article will inform you on possible tank mates that can be kept with goldfish, and how you can make the cohabitation successful.divider-fish

13 Best Tank Mates for Goldfish in 2021

1. Newts (Pleurodelinae)

newts in a tank
Image Credit: Aleron Val, Shutterstock
Size: 6-9 inches
Diet: Carnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful & inquisitive

Newts originate from shallow rivers and streams where they spend most of their time searching for food within the substrate or between rocks. They are fast-moving and agile which means that a sturdy aquarium hood is necessary to keep them safe and secure in a goldfish tank. Newts are better suited for goldfish ponds where they can mimic their natural behaviors. It is best to avoid keeping species of newts that eat fish such as the rough-skinned newt with goldfish. Some species of newts that can ideally be kept with goldfish are the Lissotriton Vulgaris and the Alpine newt. The type of newt you plan to keep with your goldfish should be thoroughly researched beforehand, as goldfish will eat the tadpoles and eggs, whereas cannibalistic newts will eat the goldfish. Newts should be captive-bred as wild specimens harbor parasites and diseases that can make your goldfish ill.


2. Snails (Ampurllariidae) – Best for Small Tanks

Two snails- Ampularia yellow and brown striped
Image Credit: Madhourse, Shutterstock
Size: 1-4 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful

There is a wide variety of aquatic snails that are ideal for keeping with goldfish. When choosing the right species of snail for a goldfish tank or pond, the size of the snails should be considered. The most common snails kept with goldfish are a mystery, ramshorn, bladder, assassin, and apple snails. Large goldfish have been known to eat smaller snails such as the ramshorn or bladder snail, so you must ensure that the aquarium has adequate hiding spaces to reduce the loss of snails. Mystery snails are too large at their adult stage to be eaten by goldfish which makes them an ideal invertebrate tank mate for goldfish. Snails will rarely ever bother your goldfish, which allows these two creatures to cohabitate peacefully.


3. Apple Snail (Pomacea Bridgesii)

Yellow apple snail with shell covered with green algae
Image Credit: Corneliu LEU, Shutterstock
Size: 2-4 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful

Apple snails grow to large sizes which makes it nearly impossible for a goldfish to eat them. Apple snails come in a variety of colors and make the perfect peaceful tank mate for goldfish. This snail also eats leftover food and waste that gets left in the tank from goldfish, and they can form part of an essential cleanup crew in a pond or tank environment. Apple snails live for around 2 to 4 years in captivity and primarily feed off algae and live plants in the aquarium. If you do plan to create a planted aquarium for your goldfish, apple snails might not be the best pick as they will mow down the plants in a record of time. Mystery snails will be better suited if this is the case.


4. Bamboo Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis)

Bamboo shrimp in aquarium
Image Credit: Olga Chezhina, Shutterstock
Size: 2-3 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Exploratory and community based (Should be kept in groups of 10 or more)

Bamboo shrimp grow distinctly larger than other species of shrimp such as the cherry shrimp. Smaller shrimp have a risk of being eaten by even the smallest breed of goldfish, whereas the large size of bamboo shrimp minimizes this risk. Although bamboo shrimp can be kept with goldfish, it is important to note that goldfish will still try to eat these shrimps and you will face a few losses throughout the journey. Bamboo shrimp will eat the algae and leftover foods lying around the tank which makes them one of the best cleanup crew for goldfish who are notoriously messy fish. The pond or tank should have plenty of dense coverage in the form of live plants, rocks, driftwood, and commercial shrimp caves to provide bamboo shrimp with hiding places to avoid being eaten or injured by goldfish.


5. Hillstream Butterfly Loach (Beaufortia Kweichowensis)

hillstream loach in water plant
Image Credit: Tangent1231, Shutterstock
Size: 2-3 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful community fish

The butterfly Hillstream loach is a beautiful and delicate species of temperate water loach. These fish are grazers and spend most of their time grazing on algae and biofilm which is naturally established in a cycled goldfish pond or tank. They do not get very big and can look attractive in aquariums. They have a unique body shape that looks similar to a stingray, with dotting and patterns throughout the body. The butterfly Hillstream loach has more to offer than just beauty and peacefulness, they are also excellent aquarium cleaners that will keep the goldfish aquarium spotless and free from algae, debris, and leftover food.


6. White Cloud Minnows (Tanichthys Albonubes)

white cloud mountain minnows
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size: 1.5 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful shoaling fish (Should be kept in groups of 8 or more)

An often-overlooked species of shoaling fish that can be kept with goldfish is the white cloud minnow. These are temperate water fish meaning that they can be kept in both cold and mildly warm waters in captivity. They have silver coloration and grow to relatively small adult size. They enjoy sticking together in same-species groups and will inhabit the mid-level of the aquarium. They enjoy hiding in the dense brush like aquarium moss and other bushy plants. Their small size makes them a better-suited tank mate for young fancy goldfish who are too slow and small to eat the white cloud minnow.


7. Dojo Loach (Misgurnis Anguillicaudatus)

Size: 4-6 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful community fish (Should be kept in groups of 4 or more)

This peaceful community fish is a grazer and enjoys eating algae and debris that forms both horizontal and vertical surfaces in an aquarium. The dojo loach is a slender fish that primarily hangs around the bottom of an aquarium. They are very docile and seem to mind their own business. The dojo loach can survive in warmer goldfish aquariums where the temperature does not fluctuate beyond a few degrees. For this reason, dojo loaches are not ideal for outdoor ponds.


8. Platy (Xiphophorus)

sunset platy
Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock
Size: 2-4 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful community fish (Should be kept in groups of 6 or more)

The platyfish is a colorful and attractive freshwater fish that can handle a variety of water temperatures. They do best in goldfish tanks that are towards the maximum temperature requirement for goldfish which is typically between 68°F to 75°F. Platies are a type of live-bearing fish that is curious and playful. They can be seen playfully chasing fish of their same species and even huddled together at night when it is time to sleep. Platies can be kept in a goldfish tank if there is adequate vegetation for them to hide in. Since they are on the larger end, the platy can be kept with small to medium-sized fancy goldfish.


9. Khuli Loach (Pangio Khulii)

Kuhli Loach in aquarium
Image Credit: Roberto Dani, Shutterstock
Size: 4-7 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful community fish (Should be kept in groups of 8 or more)

The Khuli loach is a unique-looking species of fish in the loach family. They are shy creatures that spend most of their time hiding underneath rocks and driftwood where they form close groups for security. The most common color seen in Khuli loaches is a yellow and brown-banded pattern, but plain brown, black, and tan colorations are available. Khuli loaches feed on leftover fish food and algae that floats to the bottom of the aquarium. If you plan to keep Khuli loaches in your goldfish aquarium, dragon rock with holes throughout and large deformed driftwood is essential to provide them with hiding places.


10. Bristlenose Plecos (Ancistrus Cirrhosus)

Bristlenose Plecos
Image Credit: TTONN, Shutterstock
Size: 4-6 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful grazer

The bristlenose Plecostomus is an excellent algae-eater for goldfish aquariums. These fish do a great job at ridding the tank of stubborn algae. The bristlenose pleco will rarely interfere with goldfish and they are not known to such the slime coat off goldfish if they are provided with adequate food. Most goldfish keepers have luck keeping these two species of fish together, and you have the option of choosing a pleco that comes in a variety of color forms, with the most popular being the albino. The temperature should be kept within the mid-70s even in winter, to ensure that this Plecostomus does not get chilled.


11. Rosy Barb (Puntius Conchonius)

Rosy Barb
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size: 4-6 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Community (Should be kept in groups of 6 or more)

A stunning variation of the common barb fish is the rosy barb. These fish have a golden coloration throughout their body that seems to glisten underwater. Rosy barbs also enjoy being in large groups of their species, so you should keep them in a large shoal if the tank size allows it. Since rosy barbs prefer to hand around the surface of the aquarium, they will not do well in ponds where predators can easily find and attack them. The rosy barb may nip flowing goldfish fins, so you want to stick with the fantail and common goldfish if you want to house them together.


12. Golden Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys Albonubes)

Size: 1.5 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful shoaling fish (Should be kept in groups of 8 or more)

This is a color variation to the common white cloud minnow which has a silvery appearance. The golden mountain minnow has a gold complexion with red fins that have a small dot of white on the tips. These fish can tolerate cold temperatures well as they are temperate water fish. This makes them able to thrive in a similar water temperature as goldfish. The golden mountain minnows’ small size makes them an easy target for a hungry goldfish, so the tank should have plenty of live plants so that they can hide.


13. Checkered Barb (Puntius Oligolepis)

Checkered Barb
Image Credit: boban_nz, Shutterstock
Size: 4-6 inches
Diet: Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Community fish (Should be kept in groups of 6 or more)

The checkered barb has an attractive purple to blue coloration with red or black fins. They are endemic to creeks, lakes, and rivers in parts of Indonesia and have also been well established in Colombia. The adult males have red fins with black tips, whereas the females are plainer in color. They can tolerate cooler temperatures well which allows them to cohabitate with goldfish. The checkered barb loves to stick in specie appropriate groups for safety and they are better suited to tanks rather than ponds.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Goldfish?

The type of tank mate you want for your goldfish plays a major role in what type of tank mate is better suited for your goldfish pond or tank.

  • Snails: Ideal for both tanks and ponds of a smaller size.
  • White/golden mountain minnows: Ideal for tanks
  • Newts: Better suited for large ponds with live vegetation and a sandy substrate.

If you do plan to add tank mates into your goldfish aquarium, the minimum size of the fish or invertebrate species should be calculated to the goldfish’s aquarium size. This means if you plan to add golden mountain minnows, the goldfish’s aquarium size should have 15 gallons added on to ensure that there is enough space for swimming and foraging. One of the best and most popular goldfish tank mates are snails such as the mystery or apple snail which grow to large adult size. Snails can also tolerate a variety of conditions that some fish species will struggle to thrive in. Keep in mind that goldfish are very messy which can negatively affect many tank mates, so a good filter should be used alongside regular water changes.

oranda goldfish
Image Credit: Rethinktwice, Pixabay

Where Do Goldfish Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Goldfish are active and swim all over the aquarium. However, they will spend the majority of their time around the mid-level of an aquarium. The pond of the tank should be on the shallow end to ensure that the oxygen to water ratio is good. The minimum tank size for small fancy goldfish is 40 gallons, whereas common or comet goldfish should be kept in a tank no less than 55 gallons to ensure that there is adequate swim room.

Water Parameters

Goldfish are very messy fish and can quickly foul a clean aquarium. They eat a lot of food that seems to pass right through them, and they produce a lot of waste. This contributes to the bioload which is tolerable to the goldfish, but not to their tank mates. This waste turns into ammonia and nitrates which can cause all sorts of issues in an aquarium. The ideal water conditions for goldfish are 0ppm ammonia and nitrite, with less than 20ppm nitrate. A cycled aquarium can quickly convert the waste to a less toxic form of ammonia, which is a nitrate, but at times the beneficial bacteria will struggle to accommodate this massive bioload goldfish produce. Water quality is essential to the health of goldfish and the aquarium should be maintained regularly.

Size

Goldfish grow to a very large adult size which is why the aquarium should be so large. Fancy goldfish can grow between 8 to 12 inches in size, whereas long-bodied goldfish grow to 10 to 14 inches on average. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine how a goldfish can foul the water up in a smaller body of water. This makes it essential to consider the adult size of your goldfish species before purchasing a tank or pond for them. There should be enough water volume for them to comfortable swim and enough to also dilute their waste. This also makes long-bodied goldfish such as the common or comet to live in a pond or very large tank.

Aggressive Behaviors

Goldfish are generally peaceful and playful fish that have minimal aggressive behaviors. Goldfish should be kept in pairs or groups as they are social amongst their species. They can get lonely and bored if they are kept on their own which can lead to a range of behavioral issues. Having tank mates in your goldfish tank is not a substitute for other goldfish, as each species of fish community differently and will not provide the same enrichment as a fish’s species.

two goldfish swimming
Image Credit: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay

2 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Goldfish in Your Aquarium

1. Companionship

Adding tank mates into your goldfish aquarium can provide them with extra companionship and entertainment. It can also make a goldfish aquarium look less empty and adds entertainment to different levels of the aquarium depending on the type of tank mate you choose for your goldfish.

2. Variety

Tankmates can add more color and variety to a goldfish aquarium. This is ideal for some keepers as it adds a more natural aspect to a seemingly boring goldfish-only aquarium.

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Conclusion

There are many ideal tank mates for goldfish to choose from. The overall type of tank mate you choose depends on your goldfish’s conditions. Some fish are only able to thrive in warmer goldfish aquariums, whereas others will be fine in a very cold goldfish aquarium. Goldfish are peaceful enough to cohabitate successfully with a wide range of tank mates, which gives you plenty of options to add to your goldfish pond or tank.

We hope that this article has helped you choose the right tank mate for your goldfish!


Featured Image Credit: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.