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 and what kind?
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.
– Avoid aggressive fish that will pick on your goldfish. In general, goldfish are peaceful animals that will not thrive with aggressive barbs, African cichlids, and other 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. – Stay away from small and spiny fish. Goldfish like to explore and put everything in their mouths – including food, substrate, plants, and other 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. Find tank mates who can live with goldfish in the same environment as them. They can be kept at room temperature and without heating. For many fish on our list, this environment is on the lower end of their comfortable temperature range. A diet that caters to goldfish must also be available for tank mates. 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.
Here are the top 10 tank mates we have tested and found compatible to goldfish, keeping these rules in mind.
1. Hillstream Loach
This amazing oddball fish looks like a miniature stingray and acts 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 group of fish includes the reticulated mountainstream loach and Borneo sucker locach, Chinese butterfly loaf, and many other flat-bodied loaches.
Reticulated hillstream loach
2. Brochis multiradiatus
Cory catfish generally aren’t a good idea for goldfish tanks because they’re small enough to fit into a goldfish’s mouth and often have spines in their fins. What if you could get giant corydoras instead? The Brochis multiradiatus is also known as the hognosed catfish, or Corydoras multradiatus. This gentle bottom dweller can reach up to 4 inches in size and looks a lot like an overgrown cory catfish. They serve as great clean-up crew members since they enjoy digging through the substrate and vacuuming up any leftovers. 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 with fins that love to swim around, burrow in the gravel, and eat anything you throw at them. These friendly creatures can thrive in cold water and are a popular addition for goldfish tanks. You can often find them at a low price, $5 for the regular version and $10 for the albino or specialty versions. The dojo loach is a reliable tank mate for goldfish.
4. Bristlenose Pleco
This might seem a controversial choice, as some people claim they can eat the slime of a goldfish’s skin. In practice, we find that this occurs more with larger plecos that aren’t getting enough food (because the goldfish are gobbling up 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. We recommend waiting until the lights dim and the goldfish are calm before you target feed the pleco a delicious meal of sinking wafers.
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 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
Cold water minnows are a great option if you don’t have fancy goldfish. They are inexpensive and can be schooled together. They grow to about 1.5 to 2 inches in length. The fish will grow much faster than they are when you buy them. If you want to add them to your tank, consider growing them out and even breeding them. Although they can be kept in a goldfish tank, they are much faster than fancy goldfish. In the unlikely event that one of these fish is accidentally eaten it will not cause harm 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. 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 but docile catfish looks like a supersized otocinclus that grows to 5 or 6 inches long. The flag tail hoplo is Dianema urostriatum, spotted hoplo and tail bar hoplo are all different species. 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
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. The variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus), one of two types of platy fish can survive in cooler water. 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 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. They are also great clean-up crew members and will pick up any excess food or algae in your tank.
Metallic Blue Platey
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. There are some peaceful barbs such as the rosy, which can be coexisting with your goldfish as long as you adhere to a few basic rules.
Tip 1 is to create a larger school for rosy barbs in order to reduce 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 is to keep rosy barbs with single-tailed, common goldfish, since the barbs may still be too fast for your fancy goldfish’s liking.
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.