10 Best Tank Mates for Your Goldfish
Goldfish are beautiful, much-beloved creatures in the fish keeping hobby, but sometimes it can be nice to add a little variety to their aquariums. We’ve been keeping goldfish for many years and have compiled a list with our top tips and recommendations to keep them happy.
Which Fishes Can You Keep with Goldfish?
Here are some guidelines for anyone who has ever seen a cool fish or wondered how it would work with their goldfish.
Do not allow aggressive fish to pick on your goldenfish. In general, the goldfish are calm and peaceful creatures that do not tolerate aggressive barbs, African or large cichlids. Take into account how fast your goldfish swims. Common or single-tailed goldfish are fast swimmers, and they have a greater likelihood of swallowing things that they shouldn’t. Fancy goldfish are slower, and so are more susceptible to being bullied. Avoid small, spiny fish. Fancy goldfish love to explore and take everything into their mouths, including food, substrate, and fish. We want to avoid species that are too small to fit into their mouths. When choosing tank mates, consider the maximum size of a full grown goldfish. Also, watch out for smaller fish with spines, like otocinclus or cory catfish, which could potentially get stuck in a goldfish’s gill plate if swallowed. Choose tank mates that are able to live at the same temperature as goldfish. The Goldfish can survive in room temperatures without heaters and prefer temperatures between 50-70 degrees F. For many fish on our list, this environment is on the lower end of their comfortable temperature range. Also, the tank mates must be able to live off a diet that is catered towards goldfish. The possibility of goldfish becoming constipated is increased if there is a hardcore predator who needs to eat meat.
With these ground rules in mind, here are our top 10 tank mates that we have personally tested and found to be compatible with goldfish:
1. Hillstream Loach
This bizarre fish is a miniature stingray that acts as a plecostomus or pleco. It eats algae, scavenges for food scraps, and grips onto glass so tightly that goldfish can’t pluck them off. The best part is that they can enjoy cooler temperatures like goldfish. This fish category includes the reticulated hillsstream loach (Borneo sucker loach), Chinese butterfly loach (and many other flat-bodied loaches).
Reticulated hillstream loach
2. Brochis multiradiatus
Cory catfish are not a good choice for goldfish tanks. They’re too small to fit in a fish’s mouth, and they often have spines in the fins. Imagine a corydora, a huge fish that can grow to be a giant. Enter the Brochis multiradiatus, also known as the hog-nosed catfish or Corydoras multiradiatus. This gentle bottom dweller is about the size of a cory catfish, and can grow up to 4 inches. Because they love digging into the substrate and picking up any leftovers, they make great cleanup crew members. They do have spines on the pectoral and dorsal fins. However, we haven’t found this to be an issue as they are too large to be eaten by goldfish.
3. Dojo Loach
Dojo loaches or weather loaches are like foot-long hot dogs. They love to swim and burrow in gravel and eat whatever you throw at their feet. These friendly creatures thrive in cold water and are a popular addition to many goldfish tanks. You can often find them at a low price, $5 for the regular version and $10 for the albino or specialty versions. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true tank mate for goldfish, you can’t go wrong with the dojo loach.
4. Bristlenose Pleco
This choice might be considered a little controversial, since some people online say that they can suck on a goldfish’s slime coat. This happens more often with larger plecos who aren’t getting enough food, as the goldfish are eating all of it. It’s easier to feed a bristlenose pleco and keep them away from their slime coats. They will often be found eating algae, driftwood, or morsels in the substrate. However, our pro tip is wait until the lights are out and the goldfish have calmed down, and then target feed the pleco a nice meal of sinking wafers, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and Repashy gel food.
5. Rubbernose Pleco
These plecostomus, also known as the bulldog pleco or rubber lip, are very similar to bristlenoses except that they don’t have bristles on either their noses or snouts. They share the same characteristics and care requirements and grow to approximately 5 to 6 inches in length. Most of them have spots either on their face or covering their whole body and are commonly sold in pet store chains. This peaceful algae-eater will provide a pleco with no facial hair.
6. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Cold water minnows are a great option if you don’t have fancy goldfish. They’re very inexpensive, tend to school together, and only grow to 1.5 to 2 inches long. When you first buy them, they’ll be much smaller, so consider growing them out (and even breeding them) before adding them to the goldfish tank. These fish will fit into goldfish’ mouths but are faster and more agile than the fancy goldfish. They can also be caught easily. In the unlikely event that one of these fish is accidentally eaten it will not cause harm to the goldfish.
There are many varieties of white cloudminnows. Give them a try because they add interesting activity to the aquarium and provide great enrichment for the goldfish to watch and chase.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Along the same vein as the white cloud minnows are the amazing ricefish. This cold water family consists of many species and color variants, such as platinum white, orange, and blue. Although they aren’t as expensive as white clouds, they can breed easily and complement many other fish in this aquarium. Remember that they can add to the aquarium’s bioload (or total waste load), so ensure you have enough tank space to accommodate both the goldfish, and any tank mates.
Daisy’s Red Ricefish
8. Hoplo Catfish
This spiny, but gentle catfish is similar to a large otocinclus. It can grow up to 5-6 inches in length. The flag tail hoplo is Dianema urostriatum, spotted hoplo and tail bar hoplo are all different species. Hoplo catfish have long whiskers that help them constantly scavenge for food. Hoplos, unlike the rubbernose and nocturnal bristlenose plecos that eat at night, eat during daylight hours so you don’t have to feed them.
9. Variatus Platy
A livebearer (or fish that gives birth to live young) might seem like an odd choice as a goldfish tank mate, but we’ve enjoyed this match-up many times in the past. Out of the two species of platy fish, the variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus) can live in cooler waters. Livebearers can be a nuisance because they can produce so many babies. But in this instance your goldfish will happily eat all the fry to keep the population under control.
Platies come as a variety of colors and patterns. If you are looking for something to complement your orange, red, and white goldfish, a school blue or yellow platy might be the best choice. Platies are great as a clean-up crew member, picking up algae and any food that may be hidden in the tank.
Metallic Blue Platy
10. Longfin Rosy Barbs
We recommended that you stay away from aggressive and semi-aggressive barbs at the beginning of this article. Many barbs can live in cooler water, which is a shame. Thankfully, there are some relatively peaceful barbs like rosy barbs that can coexist with your goldfish, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Tip #1 is to get a larger school of rosy barbs to minimize any bullying. A group of 10 or more fish (with more males than females, as males tend to be more aggressive) will make them more happy and allow you to have your own fish. Tip #2 is to find the long-finned variety of rosy barbs.
The flowy finnage will slow down this speedy swimmer so that the goldfish get a fair share of food during mealtimes. Tip 3: Keep rosy Barbs with single-tailed, common Goldfish. They may still be too fast and not suitable for your fancy fish.
Longfin Rosy Barb
If you follow the tips and examples provided, you will be able to find other tank mates that are suitable for keeping goldfish. You should consider the size, temperature, diet, pH and aggression of your tank mate. If you find a species that fits all the right criteria, it may be the next perfect roommate for your goldfish aquarium!
Our full care guide covers fancy goldfish and their ideal living conditions.