Skip to main content

These 3 fantastic fish make the perfect tank mates for your goldfish

Watching a community of fish peacefully swimming inside a colorful aquarium isn’t just interesting and fun, it’s also good for your health. A study published in the Environment and Behavior journal found that viewing aquariums led to noticeable reductions in blood pressure and heart rate. It also revealed that the more fish in the tank, the longer people watched, and the better their moods.

While aquarium hobbyists can choose from a huge variety of fish, the humble goldfish remains one of the most beloved. Many hobbyists start out keeping goldfish and eventually look to add other varieties of fish to the tank. Read on to learn about three fantastic fish that make great tank mates for goldfish.

Goldfish in aquarium.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What fish can live with goldfish?

Goldfish are typically not aggressive fish and rarely show signs of being territorial. That said, there are some specific things you need to consider when choosing the best aquarium buddies for your goldfish.

Temperament matters

Experts at aquarium co-op say that you should avoid choosing aggressive fish that will pick on your goldfish. For example, the addition of aggressive barbs, African cichlids, and other large cichlids will be stressful for your goldfish.

Choose fish compatible in size

Goldfish are omnivores and will eat fish that can easily fit in their mouths. This isn’t aggressive behavior, they just see the smaller fish as food. Any companions you choose for your goldfish must be compatible in size. Be sure to consider the size of your goldfish when fully grown before settling on a tank mate.

Take fin size into consideration

In an article on Tankarium, biologist and aquarist Jen Clifford says to steer clear of introducing species with large fins into a goldfish tank. Goldfish, she says, especially single-tails, can’t resist the temptation to nibble on long fins.

Think about your goldfish’s activity level

The best tank buddies for your goldfish are ones that have the same activity level. If your goldfish is a fast swimmer you’ll need to find a tank mate with similar speed to avoid problems. Fancy goldfish, for example, are slow swimmers, and pairing them with fast swimmers could subject your goldfish to bullying.

Consider temperature and diet needs   

According to the aquarium co-op, goldfish mainly prefer cooler temperatures ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you’ll be looking for a tank mate whose ideal temperature needs to overlap with that of your goldfish. The species you choose should also share the same diet as your goldfish. According to co-op experts, if you add a fish that needs a meaty diet there’s a possibility your goldfish will get too much protein and become constipated.

What are the best tank mates for goldfish?

There’s a wide variety of fish that can live with goldfish. Following are three species that make wonderful goldfish tank mates.

1. Bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose plecos are a popular choice among novice fish owners because they are easy to keep and fun to watch. In the Tankarium article, Clifford highly recommends these peaceful mellow fish as perfect tank mates for goldfish. The aquarist has kept them with both fancy and hearty goldfish without issues. Clifford says that the bristlenose pleco’s armored body and spiny dorsal fins protect him from being nibbled by goldfish. While the bristlenose can swim quickly, they prefer to hang out on logs and the tank sides eating algae and food scraps helping to keep the tank clean.

Size: They can grow up to 5 inches

Temperature requirements: 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Lifespan: About 5 years

2. Dojo loach

Also known as a weather loach, these are friendly fish who do well in a community of non-aggressive tank mates. They thrive in cold water temperatures making them a good option for a goldfish tank. The dojo loach is interesting to look at with his long slender eel-like body and tiny fins. These fish are usually brown or yellow with a marbled pattern of green or gray. They should be introduced in groups of three and are considered one of the best species for beginner hobbyists.

Size:  Typically grow to about 6 inches   

Temperature requirements: 68 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit

Minimum tank size: 40 gallons

Lifespan:  5 to 8 years

3. Rosy barb

These fish are red to pink in color and are a great choice if you’re looking to add more color to your aquarium. They are peaceful and non-aggressive making them great aquarium buddies for goldfish. The rosy barb is considered a hardy freshwater fish and is a good option for aquarists of all levels. They are schooling fish and need to live in groups of at least five so your tank must be large enough to accommodate these new additions.

Size: Can grow up to 6 inches

Temperature requirements: 64 to 79 Fahrenheit

Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Lifespan: About 5 years

Young boy looking at fish in an aquarium.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In conclusion

While it’s true that your goldfish can live alone, experts say that there are health benefits to providing your fish with tank mates. So, once you’ve established that your aquarium and filtration system can accommodate newcomers, it can be a rewarding experience for your goldfish. As with choosing any new pet, take your time and reach out to experts at your local aquarium club or your veterinarian with any questions. When you choose the right tank mates you can sit back and relax knowing that all is well in your aquarium.

Vera Lawlor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
Are bubbles in a fish tank a problem? They just might be
5 reasons bubbles in a fish tank might be there (and what to do)
Fish tank with healthy bubbles coming out of filter

Where there's water, there are bubbles. It's unavoidable and you'll be chasing an impossible dream if you try to eliminate them from your aquarium entirely. For starters, the filter produces a continuous stream, and that's a good thing! It means the system works. But some bubbles may reveal underlying problems with your water or with your inhabitants. So, why are there bubbles in your fish tank, and how do you know if those little oxygen sacks indicate an issue or a healthy ecosystem? Here's how to tell where they're coming from and figure out what to do about it.
Why are there bubbles on plants?
Like we said, bubbles are often totally normal — no action required. This will especially hold true if you have live plants, which produce oxygen naturally and sometimes hold on to it in the form of bubbles. Of course, those eventually dissipate, at which point the gas inside seeps into the water. That's good! Fish need to breathe just like the rest of us and do so through their gills by pulling oxygen from the water in the tank. These types of bubbles go on the good to neutral list.

Why are there bubbles covering the surface?
So, what happens when there's not enough oxygen for your fish to function happily? When they can't get it from the water, they'll make their way to the surface and breathe the air. Some fish do this frequently, as do aquatic frogs and other non-fish aquarium dwellers, so don't take that act alone as an immediate cause for concern.

Read more
Can you make a profit breeding your bearded dragon?
Does breeding your bearded dragon make you money? Read on to find out
Two bearded dragons sit on a rock

The first step in getting a new pet of any species is research. You want to make sure you're adopting or purchasing your pet from a reputable breeder who uses ethical sourcing techniques to acquire their animals. While veterinarians suggest that all pet parents spay and neuter their companions, some animals can be bred without causing distress to you or your pet.

One of the easiest pets to breed is the bearded dragon. With that being said, we recommend having experience under your belt before you embark on your journey as a breeder. Here's what you should know about breeding bearded dragons.
Is my beardie male or female?
When they're babies, it's really difficult to tell the sex of your lizard. Wait until he or she reaches maturity before making that determination, which is actually a good thing for breeding. You don't want to start your female reptile before 18 months for health reasons. In order to look at the little beast, you need to get comfortable enough to feel the underbelly, so give it a few days after bringing your beardie home.

Read more
Add rainbowfish to your tank – these beauties will brighten up any aquarium
There are a few things you need to know before you get a rainbowfish
A colorful rainbowfish swims in front of plants in an aquarium

You might know of rainbowfish from the beloved children's book, but these are real animals that you can keep in your own home. As the name suggests, this group of swimmers is well regarded for being beautiful to behold. Many also get along nicely with other fish and can be handled by beginners. This is what you need to know before bringing home a rainbowfish.
What are rainbow fish?
It's a bit of a catch-all term because there are at least 50 species that all fall under the rainbowfish umbrella. Some work better as pets than others, and you'll probably be looking at boesemani rainbowfish, turquoise rainbowfish, featherfin rainbowfish, or red neon rainbowfish. If you're adding to an existing tank, research carefully to ensure you only get ones that will make friends with your current animals.
What conditions do they need to live in?
These are all freshwater fish, but their exact temperature and pH balance needs vary depending on which species you bring home. You can use your existing tank specs to narrow it down or do the opposite — pick the prettiest fish and then build your ecosystem around it. One thing to note right away is that you shouldn't keep males together and no rainbowfish wants to live on its own because they like to school. Consider keeping a group of six females if you want to prevent expansion.

Why should you add them to your tank?
Here are four excellent reasons to keep rainbowfish as pets.
They look beautiful
You can find just about any gradient you want in a rainbowfish. Some incorporate many colors, more like a traditional rainbow, while others skew toward blue, such as the turquoise rainbowfish, or red, such as the aptly named red rainbowfish.
They get along with other fish
While you want them to have friends of their own species, they'll also do great with others. Female rainbowfish can sometimes live with female bettas if you want to create a color explosion. Otherwise consider catfish, gouramis, and loaches as tank mates.
They're good beginner fish
The care level of most rainbowfish sits at about the same as a neon tetra (in fact, they can live together). Make sure your tank stays clean and that you change and test the water frequently, but they don't have any specialty needs.
They live a long time
Many tank dwellers have short life spans, and rainbowfish won't be any different if not properly cared for. However, boesemani rainbowfish, in the right environment, regularly make it to 5 years and sometimes even t10 years!

Read more