11 of the Best Goldfish Tank Mates (With Pictures!)

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Are you looking to add a little more diversity to your goldfish aquarium? Let’s face it, choosing the right goldfish tankmates can be tough. To make your life a little easier, I’ve decided to put this list together to help you choose some great companions for your goldfish.

What’s more, I’ll tell you why they work, which species to avoid, and give you some good tips to ensure they all get along. So let’s get started and find your goldfish some new friends!

Choosing Goldfish Tank Mates – What You Need To Know

When it comes to choosing goldfish tank mates, there are a couple of different factors you need to consider. If you already have goldfish, their happiness should be your number one priority. Of course, you also need to think about the welfare of the other species of fish you plan to add.

Here are the most important factors to think about:

Temperament

Firstly, assuming you already have some pet goldfish, you need tank mates that will not harm or bully them in any way. This goes both ways, of course, so basically, you need to prevent any form of aggression. This means you need to avoid any territorial species of fish that are known to be aggressive or nip fins.

Size

The best tank mates for your goldfish are species that are similar-sized and will not be able to eat your goldfish. Goldfish will eat smaller fish that are slow enough to catch, so you need to think about it from both angles.

Competition

It’s very important that every animal in the tank has fair access to food. This is especially important when choosing tankmates for some of the slow-swimming fancy goldfish breeds that might not be able to get enough food.

Parameters & Tank Setup

Goldfish have certain water parameter preferences, and their tankmates need to be comfortable in the same conditions. All of the following parameters should be considered:

  • Temperature
  • pH and water hardness
  • Tank size
  • Water flow

Temperature is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to tank mates. While a goldfish can adapt to higher temperatures, it’s not ideal. And many tropical fish will struggle with the lower temperatures a goldfish can tolerate.

11 of the Best Goldfish Tank Mates

With all of the factors above in mind, we’re ready to look at some great goldfish tank mates for your aquarium. All of the recommended goldfish tank mates are peaceful fish that can be kept in the conditions you should already have in your goldfish tank.

Take note of the following important stats for each of the goldfish tank mates in the list:

  • Scientific Name
  • Adult Size
  • Compatibility
  • Water Temperature
  • Minimum tank size
  • Care Level
  • Diet
  • Origin
  • Swimming Level

So let’s meet some goldfish tank mates!

1. Other Goldfish

Fantail Goldfish Swimming
  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus
  • Adult Size: 6-8 inches
  • Water Temperature: 65-72°F
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Origin: China and surrounding Asian countries
  • Swimming Level: Midwater

This might seem like an obvious choice, but it’s important to note that different breeds of goldfish aren’t always compatible with other fish species and even other goldfish.

There are many amazing goldfish breeds, and they can be separated into two categories to make things a little easier:

Fancy Breeds

Fancy goldfish are some of the most colorful and ornamental fish breeds in the aquarium hobby. They often have long, flowing fins and strange body features like telescopic eyes and missing dorsal fins.

These slow-moving goldfish can be tough to find tank mates for because they can be pretty clumsy and can struggle to get to the food before other fish do. They are often uncomfortable in flowing water because they are poor swimmers. On the plus side, these fish are super peaceful and usually no threat to their tankmates.

The following breeds are all known as fancy goldfish:

Fast-moving Goldfish (AKA Slim-Bodied Goldfish)

Goldfish are not particularly fast fish, but the wild types and other slim-bodied goldfish are stronger swimmers that can even catch other small fish sometimes! These goldfish are less likely to be outcompeted for food by faster tankmates.

It is best to keep fancy goldfish with similar breeds, and common goldfish with other slim-bodied breeds.

2. Japanese Rice Fish

  • Scientific Name: Oryzias latipes
  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches
  • Compatible with: Fancy goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 61-72°F
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Origin: East Asia
  • Swimming Level: bottom, middle, and top

The Japanese rice fish, or Medaka fish as it is also known, is a great nano cold-water fish that can live with goldfish. These schooling fish are available in a variety of colors, including silver, golden, and orange.

Japanese rice fish are hardy and make ideal fancy goldfish tank mates. Even though they are small enough to be eaten by hungry goldfish, they are usually way too fast to be caught.

3. Dojo Loach

Dojo Loach
  • Scientific Name: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
  • Adult Size: Up to 12 inches
  • Compatible with: Most goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 64-74°F
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Origin: Eastern & Central Asia
  • Swimming Level: Bottom

Dojo loaches make great goldfish tank mates because they are peaceful and enjoy the same water parameters. These guys get pretty large, however, so you’ll need a tank of at least 55 gallons to give them enough swimming space.

Dojo loaches are also known as weather loaches. They are bottom dwellers that are happy to feed on the same food sources as your goldfish, which makes them very easy to care for.

4. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Minnow
  • Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes
  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches
  • Compatible with: Fancy goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 57-71°F
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Origin: China
  • Swimming Level: Middle

White cloud mountain minnows are very popular tank mates for goldfish. These peaceful freshwater fish are also comfortable in relatively cold water. They come in some beautiful varieties, including golden and long-finned forms.

White cloud mountain minnows are colorful fish that grow to just 1.5 inches or so, which means it is possible for a full-grown goldfish to swallow them whole. It is safer to keep them with slow-moving fancy goldfish that are too clumsy to catch them.

5. Bristlenose pleco

Bristle Nose Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus sp.
  • Adult Size: 4-5 inches
  • Compatible with: Fast-moving goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 70-78°F
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Diet: Herbivorous
  • Origin: Argentina
  • Swimming Level: Bottom

The bristlenose pleco is a sucker fish that can make a good goldfish tank mate for more experienced keepers. These interesting fish require plenty of driftwood to graze on as well as some hiding places to feel secure.

Bristlenose plecos can be kept in cooler water than other tropical fish, but their temperature preference only overlaps with the goldfish by a few degrees. Regulating the water temperature with a heater is the safest way to keep both species happy if kept together.

6. Hillstream Loach

  • Scientific Name: Sewellia lineolata
  • Adult Size: 2-2.5 inches
  • Compatible with: Fast-moving goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 68-75°F
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Diet: Eats algae
  • Origin: Vietnam & Laos
  • Swimming Level: Bottom

The hillstream loach must be one of the coolest looking aquarium fish in the hobby. They can make a great tankmate for goldfish, but there is one important catch.

These fish need good water flow and oxygenation to replicate their natural environment. You could use an internal filter or a small powerhead to create an area in the tank with good flow, but this will mean avoiding weak swimming fancy goldfish breeds.

7. Rosy Barbs

Rosy Barb in Planted Tank
  • Scientific Name: Pethia conchonius
  • Adult Size: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Compatible with: Fast-moving goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 61-75°F
  • Minimum tank size: 25 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Origin: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, India
  • Swimming Level: Middle

Rosy barbs, like goldfish, are part of the Cyprinid family. These social fish can be a little badly behaved if kept on their own or in small numbers. Keep a group of at least 8 to 10 rosy barb fish to ensure they remain peaceful.

8. Variatus Platy

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus variatus
  • Adult Size: 2-2.8 inches
  • Compatible with: Fast-moving goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 68-79°F
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Origin: Mexico
  • Swimming Level: bottom, middle, and top

The variatus or variable platy fish is another colorful freshwater fish that makes a great tank mate for goldfish. They enjoy cooler water temperatures and they are both peaceful and very easy to keep.

Platys are livebearers, which means they will produce plenty of fry if you keep both males and females in the same tank. The fry will be eaten by the goldfish, which is good for keeping the population down, but not great if you want your platies to multiply!

9. Hoplo Catfish

  • Scientific Name: Megalechis thoracata / hoplosternum thoracatum
  • Adult Size: 6 inches
  • Compatible with: All goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 64-82°F
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Origin: South America
  • Swimming Level: Bottom

The hoplo catfish (video source) is a very hardy and peaceful nocturnal catfish. They are perfectly safe to keep with goldfish, but they can eat small fish like white cloud minnows or rice fish.

Hoplo catfish love to dig through the substrate, so keep them over fine sand, and expect them to rearrange the floor somewhat. These fish should be kept in a group of at least 5 and be sure to provide some hiding places like driftwood or caves.

10. Zebra Danio

What Does A Zebra Danio Look Like
  • Scientific Name: Brachydanio rerio
  • Adult Size: 1.5-2 inches
  • Compatible with: Fancy goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 64-77°F
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Origin: India
  • Swimming Level: middle and top

Zebra danios are a great little schooling fish species that also do well in cooler temperatures. These peaceful fish can make good goldfish tank mates, even though they are technically small enough to be eaten. Danios are speedy and lively fish, so this usually isn’t a problem, but keeping them with slower goldfish is the safest bet.

11. Mystery Snails

Mystery Snail
  • Scientific Name: Pomacea bridgesii
  • Adult Size: 2 inches
  • Compatible with: All goldfish breeds
  • Water Temperature: 68-84°F
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Eats algae
  • Origin: Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia
  • Swimming Level: Bottom

Mystery snails make excellent tankmates for goldfish. These colorful aquarium snails look great and help to keep your tank clean by eating leftover food scraps. They are hard-working creatures and can even help to keep your glass and substrate clean by feeding on algae!

Unfortunately, young specimens and other freshwater snails will not be safe from a hungry and curious goldfish. Mystery snails can grow to over two inches, however, which is too big to be on your goldfishes menu!

Tank Mates To Avoid

Now that you know eleven of the best goldfish tank mates, let’s run through a few species that you should avoid.

Tropical Fish

Goldfish are coldwater fish that do not occur in tropical regions. They prefer to live in a temperature range between about 65°F and 72°F. Any tropical fish that needs warmer water temperatures will not make a suitable tank mate. here are a few examples

Aggressive, Territorial & Fin-nipping Fish

African Cichlids in a Rock Aquarium

Goldfish should never be kept with aggressive tank mates. Long goldfish fins are prime targets for fin-nipping fish, and fancy breeds are not strong enough to defend themselves against bullies. In the aquarium hobby, there are a few ‘prime suspects’ to watch out for like:

  • Semi-aggressive barb species like the Tiger barb
  • Pea puffers
  • Serpae tetras
  • Chinese algae eater
  • African cichlids
  • Larger South American cichlids

You’ll also want to avoid keeping any smaller fish that could be dangerous if swallowed like:

Freshwater Shrimp

Goldfish are omnivorous, which means they feed on both plant and animal matter. Inverts like cherry shrimp and bamboo shrimp are definitely on the menu, so you can expect a hungry goldfish to see them as a tasty snack.

They might survive fine with plenty of hiding spaces, but it’s not worth the risk. Even slow-moving fancy goldfish are likely to eat freshwater aquarium shrimp eventually.

Goldfish Community Tank Setup

Now that you know more about suitable goldfish tank mates, let’s take a look at how to set up your own peaceful goldfish community aquarium!

Introducing Tankmates

While all the species in this list have been proven to get along great with goldfish, it’s important to understand that fish can have individual personalities and their behavior can be complex.

Make sure you have some sort of backup plan in place in case there’s any unexpected conflict. It’s also a good idea to quarantine any goldfish tank mate for at least 2 weeks before introducing it to your aquarium.

Tank Size

The size of your goldfish community aquarium will depend on the number and type of fish you keep. A single goldfish needs a tank of 20 gallons at the very least, and this should be increased by a further 20 gallons for every additional goldfish you keep.

White cloud mountain minnows, for example, are nano fish that can be kept in aquariums as small as 10 gallons, so adding a small school will not have a big effect on the bioload of your goldfish tank. The dojo/weather loach on the other hand is a large fish that should be kept in a tank of at least 55 gallons.

Heating

Goldfish prefer cooler water temperatures than tropical fish so they can often be kept in an unheated aquarium. Naturally, this will depend on the temperature in your home, office, or wherever you keep your goldfish tank.

If the temperature range varies between 65°F and 72°F, you will not need a heater to keep goldfish. You will need to heat or cool the water if the temperature rises or falls below these values, however.

The temperature preferences of the 10 goldfish tank mates in this list all vary, but they do overlap with the goldfish’s preferred parameters by at least a few degrees in each case. Running a heater can make it a lot easier to keep your aquarium temperature dialed into that ‘happy medium’.

Filtration & Aquarium Maintenance

Goldfishes create a large bioload in the aquarium, and adding tank mates will put even more pressure on your filtration system. This means excellent filtration is necessary to maintain great water quality.

Goldfish are not the strongest swimmers, and the fancy breeds in particular will not enjoy a strong water current. A good-quality canister filter is a great option for your goldfish tank, especially if fitted with a spray bar to minimize the water flow and oxygenate the water.

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Supplementing this with a hang-on back, or sponge filter is a good way to increase your filtration capacity and can also be seen as a great ‘insurance policy’ in case either filter fails.

Your filtration system will keep your aquarium water looking beautiful while working to convert the ammonia in fish waste and uneaten food into nitrates. These nitrate levels should be monitored regularly using your test kit. At high levels, nitrates become toxic to your fish, so work out a partial water change schedule that keeps your nitrate levels to 20 ppm or less.

Live Plants

Growing live plants in your aquarium has a number of great benefits for your goldfish- and they look great too! Unfortunately, goldfish are notorious for eating aquarium plants, so you need to choose your species carefully. Here are a few goldfish-friendly plants that you can grow in your tank:

Keep in mind that even if your goldfish doesn’t eat your plants, they can uproot them. Plants that do not need to be planted in substrate or float will work best with goldfish.

Substrate & Decorations

A layer of aquarium sand or gravel on the bottom of your tank can create a more natural habitat for your fish to forage on. Many goldfish tanks are successfully run without any substrate at all, however. This is a great way to keep your aquarium spotless and clean, but it does not create a very natural environment.

Great For Bottom Feeders
Fine Natural Sand

Natural sand is excellent for bottom feeder fish to forage around in.

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Adding decorations and hardscape features like rocks and driftwood is a great way to add structure to your tank and provide your goldfish and their tank mates with a more natural home. Goldfish with long, flowing fins are vulnerable to tears and damage from sharp objects, so make sure that everything in your aquarium has smooth, rounded edges to avoid any injuries.

Where To Buy Goldfish Tankmates

This list of goldfish tankmates was chosen to include species that are easy to find. You should be able to find most of these fish down at your local fish store. Alternatively, you can check out trusted online retailers. Some specialty online dealers will have rare breeds available.

FAQs

Can you mix goldfish with other fish?

You certainly can mix goldfish with other fish. The secret is to choose the other species based on their needs and temperaments, rather than just their looks. Tank mates for goldfish community tanks should always be chosen with caution.

Can any other fish live with goldfish?

Goldfish are probably easiest to keep with other members of their own species. There are many other fish species that can live with goldfish, however. The tank mates listed in this article all make great additions to well planned goldfish community aquariums.

What Fish can I pair with goldfish?

The white cloud mountain minnow and dojo loach/weather loach are two examples of popular tank mate choices among goldfish keepers. They may be very different fish, but each can get along great with goldfish if kept under the right conditions.

Final Thoughts

Choosing companion fish for your goldfish doesn’t have to give you sleepless nights. Choose one of great species listed in this article to create your own peaceful goldfish community tank today!

Do you keep companion fish with your goldfish? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

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