Goldfish are social animals and so prefer to be in groups. But what species are ideal goldfish tank mates? This complete guide will inform you what you should look for in a goldfish companion, and gives our list of the 10 best goldfish tank mates.

This guide will also tell you what fish you shouldn’t be putting in with your goldfish, what size tank you really need, and how many fish you should have in a tank.

Characteristics of the Perfect Goldfish Tank Mate

Finding that perfect tank mate for your goldfish can be quite difficult. Nobody wants to come home and realize that some bullying has occurred, or that the goldfish has eaten the other fish!

But have a read through the following checklist and you should gain an idea of what characteristics the ideal tank mate for goldfish should have.

Authors Note: This article deals with the best tank mates for fancy goldfish. Single tailed goldfish are a different beast as species such as the comet goldfish can reach up to a foot in length and are extremely quick!

Temperature

The first thing to remember is that goldfish are cold water animals, and while cold water isn’t very accurate – temperate might be a better word – they definitely aren’t tropical. 

So any fish that you put with them also need to be well suited to this temperature. Goldfish prefer the water temperature to be between 65 and 75ºF (18-24ºC).

While this might seem a bit of an obvious characteristic to start off with it is vitally important. Most fish species on offer in the aquarium trade are aimed at heated tropical tanks. This is because the fish originate from the tropical regions of the world such as South East Asia and the Amazon. Tropical fish are in general much more colorful and dazzling compared to colder water species.

These tropical species such as guppy fish and betta fish like water temperatures of somewhere between 75 and 82ºF (23-27ºC). As you can see this doesn’t quite equate to the requirements your goldfish need. 

Having your goldfish in water too hot, or tropical fish in water too cold, will in the end cause them a great amount of stress and will inevitably lead to disaster. 

Personality

What we mean by personality is their aggression level. Fancy goldfish are very docile and peaceful creatures, and their tank mates should be the same. 

Ideal goldfish tank mates will be able to happily share the aquarium space with them. This means that they shouldn’t be attacking each other. If you have bullying behaviors in your goldfish tank the fish will become greatly stressed.

Stress can cause very serious illnesses and diseases to develop, so ensure that the goldfish tank mates are peaceful. Species like cichlids are notoriously aggressive and will hound your goldies. Your goldfish can actually be killed if they are constantly attacked.

Size

Goldfish are notoriously unfussy eaters. They will happily eat anything you put into their tank, whether it be fish food, lettuce, or other fish. As long as it fits into their mouth, it is considered fair game as food. 

So you can’t expect small fish to get along well with goldfish. The goldfish will happily eat them!

You also need to make sure that all the fish in the tank have enough space to grow to their full size comfortably. Don’t be putting into a small 30 gallon tank a fish which grows very large and needs a 50 gallon tank to feel comfortable!

Speed

How fast the fish species is that you want in with your goldfish does come into play. As we have previously stated, goldfish will happily chow down on small fish. That is if they can catch them! 

If you have your mind set and must get relatively small goldfish tank mates then you should make sure they are quick. Fancy goldfish are pretty slow movers, so fast, quick moving, agile fish will be able to get away from them when they might otherwise become a tasty snack!

While being speedy might protect them, having plants and nooks and crannies where they can hide and feel safe from your goldfish works just as well.

10 Best Goldfish Tank Mates

10 Best Goldfish Tank Mates

Again please do note that this list is based on tank mates for fancy goldfish. Fancy goldfish have a double caudal fin and are smaller and much slower moving than single tailed goldfish. Single-tailed goldfish such as the comet and common goldfish have streamlined bodies and are very fast moving, and can grow to over a foot long.

So without further ado let’s get straight into our list of the 10 best goldfish tank mates. 

1) Other Fancy Goldfish

Lionhead Goldfish

The perfect tank mates for goldfish are other goldfish. As we’ve said previously in this article you want your goldfish tank mates to be a similar personality and handle similar temperatures to your current fish. 

What fish fit this description better than other goldfish? You can either get other fancy goldfish of the same breed, or you can get a different breed. 

You want to make sure that the fancies are of a similar size and speed. Some fancy goldfish can’t swim very well, and it can be common for other fish to steal food from them.

There are many different breeds of fancy goldfish, such as the lionhead, fantail, oranda, ryukin, and the bubble eye. 

2) Banded Corydoras (Scleromystax barbatus)

Banded Corydoras Goldfish tank mate

Credit: Birger A (WikiCommons)

  • Temperature Range: 60.8 – 77ºF (16 – 25ºC)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 3.5 – 4 inches (9 – 10 cm)
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons 
  • Personality: Peaceful

The banded corydora is the largest species in the Corydoradinae family and is native to river basins in South American Brazil. 

In their native habitat they inhabit coastal basins which have a sandy substrate or fine gravel covered in mud. Therefore you should aim to replicate this in your tank. Goldfish like fine substrates in which to scavenge as well so this works perfectly. 

They display slight sexual dimorphism. The male has a forehead stripe of gold or white against black, and has a more defined pattern of spots of the head. The females are larger and have a more rounded body, especially when ready to breed.

They are very social animals so need to be in groups of at least five individuals. Make sure that there is enough space in your tank to comfortably house these fish with your goldfish. They do not like not having enough room. 

Though tropical fish, they are happy living at the temperature range that goldfish require. They are the largest of the cory catfish, so won’t become a goldfish snack at 4 inches long.  

3) Rosy Barb (Puntius conchonius)

Rosy Barb What Fish Can Live With Goldfish

Credit: Mark Hanford (Flickr)

  • Temperature Range: 64 – 72ºF (18 – 22ºC)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Rosy barbs can be great tank mates for goldfish. You do need to do a few things to ensure they get on well though. Rosy barbs are shoaling fish and so need to be kept in a school of at least five individuals. Any less than this can greatly stress them. 

They also do have a habit of fin biting. Keeping them in groups will help to reduce the tendency for this behavior as they will mainly concern themselves with each other and not your goldfish.  The bigger the group the less your goldfish will feel the effects.

Rosy barbs are very undemanding and hardy fish. They are very similar to goldfish in this regard. They will happily eat all normal fish flakes and foods. However they are very quick fish, so you will have to make sure that your goldfish eats as well, otherwise the barbs can steal all the food!

They prefer having aquarium plants in the tank, but are known to nibble and eat soft leaved plants. So a plant like java moss is perfect for these fish as it is fast growing and very hardy. 

4) Dojo Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus)

Dojo Loach Tankmates for goldfish

Credit: Lauren Anderson (Flickr)

  • Temperature Range: 50 – 82°F (13 – 28°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 6 – 12 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Also known as the weather or pond loach, the dojo loach are perfectly suited to being perfect tank mates for goldfish. They are very peaceful fish and will be found roaming the bottom of the tank exploring and looking for food. 

While they can handle a huge temperature range they prefer to be in temperatures of between 65°F to 75°F, which is what the goldfish prefer as well. They are social fish and should be kept in a group of 3 individuals. 

Dojo loaches can grow up to a foot long in the wild, but rarely reach this full length in captivity unless given lots of space. They are very curious fish and are known escape artists, so ensure to keep the lid tight on the tank!

You need to give dojo loaches lots of places to hide, such as caves and holes and plant life. They also need a sandy substrate as they will scavenge for food with their facial barbels. They swim in a fascinating serpentine motion that is amazing to see!

5) Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.)

Bristlenose Pleco

Credit: Beckie (Flickr)

  • Temperature Range: 60 – 80°F (16 – 27°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 25 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Bristlenose plecos are amazing fish to have in any aquarium, not just as goldfish tank mates. Plecos love having lots of places to explore. They feast upon algae and love having rocks, wood, and plants to find it on. They really help keep algae levels in your tank down as they are constantly grazing.

As they require the water temperature to range from 60 to 80°F this makes them perfectly suited for goldfish tanks.

As they spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank you should consider getting aquarium air stones for your tank. This will increase oxygenation of the water. An aquarium powerhead will also help with this.

Whie they will help to keep the tank clean with their love of algae, this will not provide them with a full diet. You need to feed them sinking tablets which will provide their main source of food. 

$4.26

6) Zebra Danios (Danio rerio)

Zebra Danios goldfish tank mates

  • Temperature Range: 64 – 77°F (18 – 25°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (
  • Personality: Peaceful

Zebra danios, or zebrafish, are amazingly colored fish to have in your goldfish tank. They are striped and add a great flash of color. 

However they are very small and adult goldfish will consider them an easy snack. Zebra danios are very fast and can easily outrun a goldfish, so are unlucky to become food. You can help them along by having lots of plants in the tank and other places for them to hide.

While it is always a risk in having small fish in with goldfish, with their speed and agility and plenty of hiding places zebra danios can be housed comfortably with goldfish. 

They are extremely easy to care for and will eat just about anything you give them! Try giving them live foods every so often; they absolutely go wild for it!

7) White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes)

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Credit: sannse (WikiCommons)

  • Temperature Range: 57 – 72°F (14 – 22°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 – 1.5 inches (3 – 4 cm)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

White Clouds are small colorful shoaling fish. They add a bright flash of color to any aquarium and being so easy to care for they are suitable for beginners. 

They aren’t aggressive at all and so won’t bother your goldfish in the slightest. However they are even smaller than the zebra danios, so they are also at risk of becoming lunch. Like the zebras they are incredibly quick so with a combination of their speed and with plenty of hiding places they will thrive in with your goldfish.

They are tiny fish, reaching a size of around an inch and a half in length. The males are slimmer and more colorful than the females. They are seen around the top half of the tank, rarely going into the bottom half. 

They should be kept in schools of at least 6. If they are kept with fewer individuals they lose color and become sickly. Ideally they should be kept in an aquarium of at least 10 gallons, with a temperature of 60°F, a pH of 6.0 to 8.0 and a hardness of 5 to 19 dGH.

8) Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus)

Rainbow Platy Fish

Credit: Tafkira2 (WikiCommons)

  • Temperature Range: 68 – 79°F (20 – 26°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Platy fish are in the Poeciliidae family along with Mollies, Guppies, and Swordtails. Like their cousins they are hardy fish and easy to care for, making them perfect as goldfish tank mates. They are considered subtropical fish as they originate from South America but they easily thrive at the temperature range required by goldfish.

Platy fish is a broad name that overarches three species; the Southern Platy, the  Variable Platy, and the Swordtail Platy. The Southern and Variable Platy are commonly found for sale, but the Swordtail is hard to find. 

The males grow to 2 inches in length, while the females are 3 inches long. Their life span is commonly between 3 and 5 years in captivity. They like dense vegetation and need a minimum tank of 10 gallons as they are very active fish.

Platys are very peaceful fish and not at all aggressive. Whilst they aren’t considered schooling fish they do seem to be happiest when in a group. Probably because they are voracious breeders!

Goldfish might consider them to be food, but they are quite rotund normally, so are less likely to be food then Zebras and White Clouds. Again you should make sure they have plenty of refuge just to make sure they are able to hide! They are also at their happiest in a planted tank.

9) Tiger Hillstream Loach (Sewellia lineolata)

Tiger Hillstream Loach tank mate for goldfish

  • Temperature Range: 68 – 75°F (20 – 24°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm)
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Originating from Vietnam, the Tiger Hillstream Loach is an incredible looking fish which can become a main talking point in your goldfish tank. They look like a miniature stingray and will no doubt dazzle in the tank!

Hillstream loaches are best kept in groups of 3 or 4 individuals. They are highly social and like company. 

While a minimum tank size of 50 gallons might seem a lot for a small fish, they have specific requirements when it comes to water quality. They need very well aerated water. You can achieve this using a good strong filter, and by using aquarium air stones and powerheads. The aeration they need simply cannot be achieved to a good enough standard in a smaller tank. 

Hillstream loaches also much prefer a sandy substrate and having lots of rocks and caves in which to hide and explore. This will enable them to hide and also give them plenty of places in which to find algae to eat. 

While they are small and may be able to fit into a goldfish mouth, they are bottom dwellers and like hiding away, so will not really cross paths with your goldies!

10) Nerite Snails (Neritina sp.)

Zebra Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis)
  • This snail's shell has a truly striking and beautiful pattern - it features gold and black zebra-like stripes running all the way down. (Due to shell pattern variations, your snails may not look identical to the image provided.)
  • This is a Nerite Snail, so it absolutely never reproduces in freshwater - great for aquarium hobbyists who don't want snails reproducing in their tanks!
  • Totally peaceful and safe for live plants, live shrimp, and live fish.
  • Nerite Snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any snail.
  • All Aquatic ArtsTM (formerly InvertObsessionTM) brand plants and animals come with a 100% live arrival guarantee, plus free email support directly from the owners!

  • Temperature Range: 65 – 80°F (18 – 27°C)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Personality: Peaceful

Able to easily thrive in the conditions which goldfish love, Nerite snails can give your aquarium the mix-up it might need! 

Goldfish will tend to leave these snails alone so they are great goldfish tank mates. If they get too high up on the side of the tank the goldfish can nibble at them and send them back down but they won’t eat them despite their size. 

The great thing about Nerite snails is that they are voracious algae eaters. They can single handedly contain and eliminate any algal growth you might have or get!! The loading recommendation is 2 gallons per snail. This means you can have plenty of snails in your tank, and they will keep that algal growth in check.

There are many different species of Nerite snails to choose from. The one above is the Zebra Nerite snail, but there around 200 species, a good few of which live in freshwater environments. 

Some species of snail can breed very rapidly and quickly overrun a tank. You won’t get that with Nerite snails as they only breed in brackish water. Brackish water is a mix of fresh and salt water, so you can be sure that the only snails in the tank are the ones you put there!

Examples of Fish Not to House with your Goldfish

As we’ve made clear, most tropical fish aren’t suitable tank mates for goldfish. This is mainly due to the differing water temperature range that they require compared to goldfish. 

While it can be possible to maintain the temperature at the upper limits for goldfish and the lower limits for tropical fish, it isn’t a great idea. Basically you are putting all the fish into a tank where the water conditions aren’t optimal, so there will be knock on effects to their health.

Other fish are too aggressive to be successful goldfish tank mates. Goldfish are very peaceful animals, and can get easily bullied and stressed. If housed with overly territorial and aggressive fish their health will be adversely affected. 

The following are examples of fish you shouldn’t be making goldfish tank mates:

  • Bettas: Bettas not only prefer warmer tropical waters, they are also very aggressive. They are definitely not suitable for a goldfish tank. 
  • Single-Tailed Goldfish: Single-tailed goldfish such as the comet and common goldfish are much larger and quicker than fancy goldfish. As such they don’t mix well. They will steal food before the fancies can eat it and will otherwise harass them.
  • Cichlids: Cichlids are very territorial and aggressive fish. They will definitely not mix with goldfish. The goldfish will be bullied and will be put under a great amount of stress. 

How Big Does Your Goldfish Tank Need To Be?

Goldfish tank setup

Beginner aquarists often think that you can plop a goldfish in a bowl and it will be absolutely fine. While this thought is perfectly understandable seeing how goldfish are often portrayed as such in the media, it isn’t true. 

You really need a minimum of a 20 gallon tank for your goldfish. But be aware that with tank mates as well you would need a larger tank to house multiple fish. A shoaling fish such as the rosy barb or banded cory needs to be in a 30 gallon tank, and that is the minimum. So ideally your goldfish tank would be 40 gallons or so to comfortably house a goldfish or two and its couple of tank mates.

Each goldfish you put into your tank needs an extra 10 gallons of space. 

Be aware that goldfish produce a lot of waste, and so have a high bioload. If you add another fish which also has a high bioload attached to it, such as the bristlenosed pleco, you are going to need to give them plenty of space to prevent the water quality from degrading quickly. 

You should always try to get the largest aquarium that you can, or at least the largest that you are confident and comfortable with. It will mean that you have much more leeway with the water quality, and won’t have to do water changes as often. You will also be able to choose the tank mates you want for your goldfish.

How Many Fish Can You Keep With Your Goldfish?

The answer to this question is fairly tricky unfortunately. It completely depends on the individual goldfish tank setup. 

If you have a very large tank then you can obviously keep more fish with however many goldfish you have. Conversely a smaller aquarium will hold less fish. 

It will also depend on how large the fish you have are. Larger fish require more space and so you will be able to have a fewer number of larger fish or a greater number of smaller fish. 

The very important thing to note is that you can’t crush as many fish as you can fit inside the tank. Fish need plenty of space to swim around and explore the tank, so always aim at the lower limits of how many fish your goldfish tank can accommodate! It will mean all of your fish are happier and healthier. 

A good rule of thumb is to take the goldfish only gallon requirements, ie 20 gallons with an additional 10 per extra goldfish, and add on extra for their tank mates. 

Overcrowding or overstocking an goldfish aquarium, or any tank for that matter, can cause very serious ill effects.

You should research what fish you want to have with your goldfish carefully and make sure that you get the stocking right. It is much simpler and easier if you get it right the first time around!! 

You can keep as many fish as you like with your goldfish but only to the limits of the tank and setup that you have.

Conclusion

Building a successful community tank around your goldfish can be quite hard work. But it can be done incredibly successfully! And the rewards are very high; these tanks are some of the best looking we have seen.

The single most important thing to remember is that goldfish need lots of space, and so will there tank mates. Make sure that you give them enough room to grow to their full potential and so they can swim freely and have their own space. 

Make sure that you have the correct substrate for the fish you have, and a well planted tank is always a good idea to create a safe and natural environment.

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About the author

Authority Aquarium Staff

Authority Aquarium Staff writers are experts and aquarium enthusiasts, our in-house marine biologist fact checks all our content and reviews to bring you the best advice for your aquarium health.

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