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.
What Kind of Fish Can You Keep With Goldfish?
These are some general guidelines that you can follow if you have ever seen a cool-looking fish or wondered if it would be a good match for your 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 fish are slower and more likely to be bullied by other fish. Avoid small and spiny fish. The Goldfish enjoy exploring and putting everything in their mouths. 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. Keep an eye out for small fish with spines like cory catfish or otocinclus. These fish could get stuck in the gill plates of a goldfish if they are 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. The tank mates should be able and willing to eat a diet that caters towards goldfish. The possibility of goldfish becoming constipated is increased if there is a hardcore predator who needs to eat meat.
Here are the top 10 tank mates we have tested and found compatible to goldfish, keeping these rules in mind.
1. Hillstream Loach
This bizarre fish is a miniature stingray that acts as 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 category of fish includes the reticulated hillstream loach, Borneo sucker loach, Chinese butterfly loach, and many other flat-bodied loaches.
Loach from a hillstream
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. What if you could get giant corydoras instead? Enter the Brochis Multiradiatus, also known by the Corydoras Multiradiatus or the hog-nosed Catfish. This gentle bottom dweller is about the size of a cory catfish, and can grow up to 4 inches. They make excellent clean-up crew members because they enjoy digging through the substrate, vacuuming up leftovers, and are great at cleaning up after themselves. Yes, they also have spines on their pectoral and dorsal fins, but we haven’t found them to be an issue since they’re too big to be seen as food 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 are great additions to goldfish tanks as they thrive in cold water. 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
Although this choice may be controversial, some online users claim that they can even eat the slime coat of a goldfish. In practice, we find that this occurs more with larger plecos that aren’t getting enough food (because the goldfish are gobbling up everything). 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
Also known as the rubber lip or bulldog pleco, these plecostomus are very similar to bristlenose plecos, except they don’t have any bristles on their snouts. They have the same traits and care requirements, and they grow to about the same size of 5 to 6 inches long. Many of these plecos have spots that cover their entire body or are visible on their faces. They are frequently sold in pet stores 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 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. Yes, these fish can fit in goldfish mouths, but they’re very fast and nimble compared to the slower fancy goldfish and are difficult to catch. If one is accidentally eaten, it won’t cause any harm to the fish.
There are several varieties of white cloud minnows (such as normal or gold types), but don’t get the longfin types because their extended fins will slow them down and increase their chances of getting caught. 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
Amazing ricefish are also in the same family as white cloud minnows. This cold-water family is made up of many species, with different color variations, including 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. 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. 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. Unlike the nocturnal bristlenose and rubbernose plecos, hoplos eat during the daytime, so there’s no need to target feed them to make sure they get enough nutrition.
9. Variatus Platy
Although a livebearer is a fish that gives birth to young, it can be a good choice for a goldfish tank mate. We’ve had great times with this match-up in the past. Variantus platy (Xiphophorus variatus), is the only one that can live in cooler water. 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 Platine
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. There are many peaceful barbs, such as rosy barbs, that can live with your goldfish if you just follow a few rules.
Tip #1: Get a larger school rosy-barbs to prevent bullying. You can have 10 or more members (more females than males) and they will be more interested in each other 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 together with single-tailed common goldfish. The barbs might still be too fast to your fancy goldfish’s taste.
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. Consider the temperature, diet, pH, aggression, and size of the 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.