Goldfish – the classic, everybody loves ‘em kind of fish. They’re cute, they’re fun, they’re pretty easy to care for, and incredibly popular with kids and adults alike.

But they’re not quite as “easy” to take care of as you might think based on those childhood memories of a goldie swimming around in a tiny fishbowl with a fake plant in it and bright blue pebbles. There are some specific things you’ve got to know about them – like the size aquarium they need and the types of gravel to use.

One of the most important things for your little goldie is the types of creatures and fish species you keep with them. Whether you’re looking for black moor goldfish tank mates or fancy goldfish tank mates, there are some definite things you’ve got to keep in mind.

And that’s what this article is all about: what fish can live with goldfish.

Let’s take a look.

goldfish tank mates

How to Decide Which Fish to Keep with Your Goldfish

There are several things that make a fish compatible or not with another species. Goldfish have some specifics that eliminate many common favorites, so you definitely need to check before adding in fish with your goldies.

Goldfish are Cool Water Fish

For starters, goldfish are cool water fish. Many of the most popular pet fish are tropical fish, though, which means they won’t do well in the same fish tank as your goldfish. Either the water will be too warm for the goldfish or the water will be too cold for your tropical fish.

Goldfish require temperatures between 68 and 74-degrees Fahrenheit, with season changes. Tropical fish require 75 to 80-degrees Fahrenheit. They also don’t require the periodic cold spells that goldfish need for shedding their excess fat. Cold water can harm the health of tropical fish.

Goldfish are Easily Stressed and Bullied

Goldfish are peaceful fish with a pretty low-key personality. And they tend to get picked on by other fish and get stressed out, unless they’re housed with the right tankmates. Some species are known to be bullies, while others are generally just bullies to mild fish like goldfish.

The bullying can not only lead to stress for the goldfish but it can also cause to physical harm for your fish.

Goldfish Will Eat Other Fish and Some Fish Will Eat Goldfish

Goldfish are omnivores and that means that they will eat any fish that’s small enough to fit into their mouths. When your goldies are small, this isn’t too big of a deal. But as they grow, they’ll start taking a bite out of their tankmates. Some species of fish are also fond of noshing on goldfish.

It’s important to make sure you have fish that are compatible to avoid them eating each other.

Landscape and Terrain Needs Vary Greatly

Before you pair any fish together, you should always examine their ideal substrate, plant types, décor suggestions, and other things that effect the terrain and landscape in the aquarium. Goldfish need mid-sized to large gravel since they will eat sand or small gravel and become ill from the substrate.

Goldfish also do best with plants that they’re welcome to eat to bump up the veggie intake they have. They need plenty of space to move – much more than most folks think – and moderate to bright lighting.

Goldfish Require Different Food Than Other Species

Another reason it’s important to pair goldfish carefully with others is that they require a different kind of food than most other fish species. Goldfish require more vegetable materials than many – to keep their digestive tracts working properly. Too high of a protein diet will cause swim bladder disease to harm your goldfish.

Goldfish also need to be fed gel food rather than flakes or pellets like some other species are usually fed.

Best Goldfish Tank Mates

All right. You’ve got an idea of what to look for now, but let’s dive into the specifics, with both invertebrates and fish species that make great, good, and not-so-good goldfish companions. Let’s look through this fish compatible with goldfish chart.

#1. Other Goldfish Of The Same Species

goldfish of same species tank mates
  • Maximum size: Varies from species to species, but generally up to 6-inches
  • Tank size: 20+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

Perhaps the obvious option for a goldfish companion is a fellow goldfish. Your best is to pair a comet goldfish with another comet, or housing with your black moor goldfish another black moor goldfish. They need to be about the same size as the one(s) you’ve got, though, since larger ones may eat smaller goldfish.

#2. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

white cloud mountain minnow
  • Maximum size: 1.5-inches
  • Tank size: 10+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

A big note on this species is that though they are cold water fish and do great in the same kind of environment as goldfish, they are small. They are not well-suited for larger goldfish and need to be kept in schools of 3-6 of their own species. They are fast fish, however, and can outswim goldfish, so they’re not at as high a risk as prey as other species their size.

If you’ve got the right size goldfish to pair well with White Cloud Mountain Minnows, though, you’re in for a treat. These schooling fish are peaceful, like goldfish, but they’re active and interesting to watch. They also add a nice color contrast to goldfish.

They’re also an extremely hardy variety of fish, so if you’re newer to fishkeeping, they’re a great option.

#3. Bamboo Shrimp

bamboo shrimp
By Faucon – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1457259
  • Maximum size: 4-inches
  • Tank size: 20+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy to moderate

If you’d like to expand beyond just fish species in your goldfish tank, consider the Bamboo Shrimp. These little pincer-less guys are great at keeping down algae and other growth, plus they’re fun, interesting, and some unique animal-scape to your freshwater aquarium.

They definitely need plenty of hiding places – they are shrimp after all! – and need to be on the larger size when you introduce them into the aquarium with your scavenging goldfish. They’re large enough as adults to be avoid being a snack for your goldies, but young ones are still susceptible to being chased.

They don’t require acidic water conditions like many shrimp species, and they help keep your aquarium cleaner by foraging for scraps, plus, they don’t mind cooler water temperatures.

#4. Rubber Lipped Plecos

rubber lipped plecos

Maximum size: 7-inches

Tank size: 25+ gallons

Diet: Herbivore

Care level: Easy

These peaceful, algae-eating fish don’t usually bother goldies, so even though they might start out a little bigger than the goldfish, they should do fine together.

They do like the warmer temperatures in a goldfish’s range (70-78 degrees Fahrenheit is their ideal), and they are huge algae eaters. In fact, in the wild they almost exclusively eat algae and in aquariums they need supplementation but eat much of the algae in there.

#5. Mystery Snails (Apple Snails)

mystery snail apple snail
By Stijn Ghesquiere – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pomacea_bridgesii_purple-yellow.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1840090
  • Maximum size: 5.9-inch diameter
  • Tank size: 10+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

Mystery snails, also known as apple snails, are an easy animal to care for that will get along pretty well with goldfish. They are omnivorous scavengers, so they’ll clean up the stuff your goldies leave behind, plus they’re really fun, interesting little critters that hang out in the aquarium.

Both their size and their shell keep them safe from those nosy goldfish, though they will be bothered, initially, by goldfish curious to determine if the snails would make a good snack. Once the goldfish know they can’t eat the snails, they’ll leave them alone.

They will do best in warmer goldfish tanks and remain more active, though they can survive in the cooler aquariums, if need be.

#6. Rosy Barbs

rosy barb
  • Maximum size: 6-inches
  • Tank size: 30+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

Rosy barbs are another peaceful fish that does well in cooler water temperatures. They also grow to usually between four and six inches, which means they can match a goldfish in size, as well, generally, and will remain safe goldfish tank mates throughout their lifetimes.

They are schooling fish, however, so you’ll need to keep in groups of at least six. If you don’t they will get stressed out and have much shorter lives.

Rosy barbs are colorful and very active, as well, so they make a visual addition to the goldfish aquarium as well. Plus, they’re a hardy, undemanding species of fish, so they’re perfect for beginner hobbyists and kids.

#7. Dojo Loach

dojo loach
  • Maximum size: 10-12 inches
  • Tank size: 75+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

Sometimes called the Weather Loach, Dojos are a great companion for goldfish, if you can use a large enough aquarium. They’re large eel-like fish that swim around, keeping the bottom of the aquarium clean. They’re compatible with goldfish thanks to their docile nature and water parameter needs.

It is absolutely necessary, however, to keep them in a large enough aquarium. These guys are pretty big, so they need enough space to swim around. They also need to be kept in groups of three or more, which makes that 75+ gallons absolutely vital to their health and safety.

They do prefer a sandy bottom, which is the one potential issue with keeping them with goldfish. If you have the right kind of tank setup, they will work well together, though.

#8. Zebra Danios

zebra danios
  • Maximum size: 2-inches
  • Tank size: 10+ gallons
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy

Zebra danios are one of the most environmentally compatible goldfish tank mates around. They do tend to be pretty small, though, which is the only potential downside of keeping them together. They are, however, able to outswim nibbling goldies. They should not be kept with fancy goldfish, though, as fancies are faster than danios and can sometimes starve them out by swiping all the food first.

Danios have a fairly low bio-load, which is another reason they make great goldfish companions. Goldfish are messy and tend to create a lot of waste, which means they should be paired with fish that either clean up the mess or don’t add much to it.

Danios do best in small schools, too, so this bio-load issue is just fine.

#9. Newts

newts
  • Maximum size: 5-inches
  • Tank size: 5+ gallons
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Care level: Easy

For our final non-fish recommendation, there is the newt. These lizard-like critters have been kept as tank mates for goldish for many, many years. They’re a low-maintenance, peaceful creature that can live for up to 15-years and will always be fun and interesting watch.

They also help to clean up uneaten food and waste. You will need a tight-fitting lid, however, as they are prone to escaping. They’ll need loads of protein, as they’re carnivores, but they won’t go after your goldfish.

#10. Platys

wagtail platy fish

Maximum size: 2.5-inches

Tank size: 10+ gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Care level: Easy

Another easy to care for fish that, despite its size, makes for a decent goldfish tank mate is the ever-energetic platy fish. They’re thought of as tropical fish, but they thrive in cooler 70s temperatures as well, meaning they can easily and happily live in the upper-region of the temperatures that goldfish require.

These little thick-bodied fish come in a huge variety of colors and patterns, which adds a lot of intrigue to your aquarium, as well. They are live-bearers, though, so when its breeding time, they should be removed from the main aquarium and allowed to breed and grow in a breeding tank instead of with the goldfish who will likely try to nosh on baby platy fish. The juveniles, however, will quickly be fast enough to outswim most goldfish.

Species You Shouldn’t Keep With Goldfish

Now that we’ve looked at some of the best species to keep with goldfish, let’s remember that there are definitely a number that should not be kept with them.

Fish that are smaller, whatever species they are, generally are not going to make good goldfish tank mates. 

  • Most tetras – fin nippers and semi-aggressive toward long-tailed fish.
  • Common plecos – they tend to suck the slime off goldfish, putting them at high health risk for infection.
  • Corydoras – They also suck the slime off goldfish and can be quite aggressive towards goldies.
  • Bettas – Bettas need warmer environments and they will likely attack goldfish, since they are highly aggressive fish.
  • Cichlids – Cichlids are also too aggressive to house with goldfish.
  • Common goldfish with fancy goldfish – not a good mix. Fancy goldfish are more delicate than common goldfish and there can be a power struggle for food – your fancy goldfish will not do well with this.
  • Mollies – they’re tropical, not cold-water fish, plus they’re aggressive and will probably attack your goldfish.

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