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. After many years of owning goldfish, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips and recommendations for keeping goldfish tank mates (including a few that you may have never considered before).
What Kind of Fish 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 much slower and therefore have a higher likelihood of being bullied by other fish. – Stay away from small and spiny fish. Goldfish like to explore and put everything in their mouths – including food, substrate, plants, and other fish. The majority of species we avoid are too small for their mouths. We recommend that you consider the maximum size of your full-grown goldfish when selecting tank mates. Watch out for fish with spines such as cory catfish and otocinclus. They could become stuck in the goldfish’s gill plates if they swallow them. Find tank mates who can live with goldfish in the same environment as them. They can be kept at room temperature and without heating. This environment is suitable for many fish. Also, the tank mates must be able to live off a diet that is catered towards goldfish. There is a chance that the goldfish may become constipated if you add a tough predator to their diet.
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 oddball fish looks a lot like a miniature Stingray and behaves like a plecostomus, or pleco. It eats algae and scavenges food scraps. The fish grips glass so tightly that even goldfish can’t grab them. They also enjoy cooler temperatures than 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 by the Corydoras Multiradiatus or the hog-nosed Catfish. This docile bottom dweller looks like an overgrown cory catfish that reaches up to 4 inches in size. They serve as great clean-up crew members since they enjoy digging through the substrate and vacuuming up any leftovers. 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 can thrive in cold water and are a popular addition for goldfish tanks. They are usually available for $5 for the standard version, and $10 for the specialty or albino variants. 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 might seem a controversial choice, as some people claim they can eat the slime of a goldfish’s skin. This happens more often with larger plecos who aren’t getting enough food, as the goldfish are eating all of it. If you keep a smaller species like the bristlenose pleco, it’s much easier to keep them well-fed and away from slime coats. The plecos will often be found munching on algae, driftwood and other small morsels that are hidden 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 go by the names bulldog pleco and rubber lip. They are similar to bristlenose plecos but don’t have any bristles. They share the same characteristics and care requirements and grow to approximately 5 to 6 inches in length. They are often sold in pet shops because they have spots on their faces or all over their bodies. If you’re looking for a pleco that doesn’t have “facial hair,” try this peaceful algae-eater.
6. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
If you have only a few fancy goldfish, cold-water minnows might be an option. They are very affordable, can school together, and grow up to 1.5 to 2 inch in length. They will be smaller when you first purchase them. You might consider raising them and breeding them before adding them to your 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. If one is accidentally eaten, it won’t cause any harm to the fish.
There are many types of white cloud minnows, including gold and normal types. However, longfin varieties will slow down the minnows and increase their chances of being caught. They add a lot of activity to your aquarium and are fun for goldfish to chase and watch.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Along the same vein as the white cloud minnows are the amazing ricefish. This cold-water family is made up of many species, with different color variations, including platinum white, orange and blue. They are not as affordable as white clouds at $5-10 per fish, but they can be bred easily and make a great complement to other fish on the list. Just remember that they will add to the overall bioload (or waste load) produced in the aquarium, so make sure you have enough tank space for both the goldfish and any tank mates you choose to add.
8. Hoplo Catfish
This spiny and docile catfish looks a lot like an otocinclus. There are three species: the flag tail hoplo, Megalechis thoracata and Megalechis picta. Hoplo catfish have long whiskers which help them to scavenge 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
While a livebearer, or fish that gives birth and raises young fish, might seem odd as a goldfish tank partner, we have enjoyed this match-up numerous times. Out of the two species of platy fish, the variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus) can live in cooler waters. Livebearers are sometimes criticized for their ability to give birth to many children. However, in this instance, your goldfish can happily eat the majority of the fry, keeping the population under control.
Platies come in many different colors and patterns, so if you’re looking for something to contrast your red, white, and orange goldfish, a school of blue or yellow platies might do the trick. Finally, they serve as fantastic clean-up crew members, constantly picking at algae or excess food hidden in the tank.
Metallic Blue Platey
10. Longfin Rosy Longfin Rosy Barbs
At the beginning of the article, we recommended staying away from semi-aggressive and aggressive barbs, which is a shame because many barbs can survive in cooler waters. 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. If you have a group of 10 or more (with more females than males since males are more aggressive), they tend to keep themselves entertained and leave your other fish alone. Tip #2 is to look for long-finned varieties of rosy bars.
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
By following the guidelines and examples we’ve laid out, you can discover many other tank mates to keep with 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!
For more information on fancy goldfish, make sure to check out our full care guide that covers their desired living conditions and favorite foods to eat.