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 keeping goldfish, we have put together a list of our top tips for keeping them mates.
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.
Avoid aggressive fish which could pick on your goldfish. Goldfish are generally peaceful and will not be able to cope with large cichlids such as African cichlids or barbs. Think about how fast your goldfish swims. Common goldfish, also known as single-tailed and comet goldfish, are faster swimmers than other fish and are more likely to swallow things 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. For the most part, we want to avoid any species that are small enough to fit in their mouths, so consider the maximum size of a full-grown goldfish when choosing tank mates. 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. – Keep tank mates that can live in the same conditions as goldfish. Goldfish mainly prefer cooler temperatures from 50-70degF and can live at room temperature without a heater. This environment is suitable for many fish. Also, the tank mates must be able to live off a diet that is catered towards goldfish. If you add a hardcore predator that needs a meaty diet, there’s a possibility the goldfish will get too much protein and become constipated.
These are the top 10 tank buddies that we tested and found 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, scavenges for food scraps, and grips onto glass so tightly that goldfish can’t pluck them off. 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.
Hillstream loach with a lot of care
2. Brochis multiradiatus
Cory catfish don’t make a good addition to goldfish tanks. Their fins are too small and can be stuffed into the mouth of a goldfish. 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 can reach up to 4 inches in size and looks a lot like an overgrown cory catfish. 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, also known as weather loaches, are foot-long, scaly dogs that love to swim, dig in the gravel and eat everything you throw at them. 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 might seem a controversial choice, as some people claim they can eat the slime of a goldfish’s skin. We have found that larger plecos are more likely to suffer this because they aren’t eating enough (because the fish are eating everything). It is easier to care for a smaller species, such as the bristlenose pleco. You’ll often find them munching on algae, driftwood, and morsels 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 are similar in size and require the same care. They can grow up to 5-6 inches long. They are often sold in pet shops because they have spots on their faces or all over their bodies. This peaceful algae-eater is a good choice if you are looking for a pleco without “facial hair”.
6. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
If you have only a few fancy goldfish, cold-water minnows might be an option. They’re very inexpensive, tend to school together, and only grow to 1.5 to 2 inches long. 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. (In the event that one does accidentally get eaten, it’s not harmful to the goldfish.)
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. These minnows add great activity to the aquarium, and they are fun to 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. At $5 to $10 each, they’re not as cheap as white clouds, but they breed easily and are a beautiful compliment to many of the other fish on this list. Keep in mind that they can increase the aquarium’s overall bioload (or waste burden). So make sure to have enough space for the goldfish as well as any tank mates.
8. Hoplo Catfish
This spiny and docile catfish looks a lot like an otocinclus. Different species include the flag tail hoplo (Dianema urostriatum), spotted hoplo (Megalechis thoracata), and tail bar hoplo (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
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. Some people don’t like livebearers because they can give birth to so many babies, but in this case, your goldfish will happily eat most of the fry and keep the population under control.
Platies come with a wide range of colors and patterns. A school of yellow or blue platies may be the right choice to compliment your orange goldfish. Finally, they serve as fantastic clean-up crew members, constantly picking at algae or excess food hidden in the tank.
Metallic Blue Platine
10. 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. 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 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
You can find many other tank mates for goldfish by following the examples and guidelines we have provided. 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.