Do goldfish get lonely? Should you get another fish?

Do goldfish get lonely if kept in a tank by themselves? You might be surprised to learn that, no, they don’t. At least, not as far as we know.

Based on everything we know about goldfish, it is very unlikely that goldfish feel loneliness.

It’s normal to wonder whether your goldfish will get lonely if kept in a tank on their own.

You see your goldfish swimming around the same tank, all day every day, by themselves; looking at the same plants, sticking their noses into the same bits of gravel, swimming under the same ornamental bridge…

You leave for work or school for hours on end, so there’s nothing going on outside the tank for them to look at, they’re not being fed regularly throughout the day, and you just found out that the “three second memory” is a myth.

Surely a goldfish will get bored unless you get another fish for them to live with? Well, actually, no, they probably won’t.

How do we know that goldfish don’t get lonely?

There’s no definite way of knowing whether goldfish get lonely. After all, nobody can enter the mind of a goldfish to make absolutely sure. However, we can say that it is very unlikely that goldfish get lonely.

Goldfish are just not the same as humans – they’re not social animals in the same way that we are, and they don’t have the same capacity to get bored or long for companionship.

In fact, many of the longest living goldfish have been kept alone, with no obvious harm to their well being.

Can goldfish live alone?

So, if goldfish don’t get lonely, does that mean they should be kept alone? Or should you get other fish to live with your goldfish?

As it’s unlikely that goldfish feel loneliness, you certainly don’t have to get more fish just to keep your goldfish company.

However, there may be other reasons why you want to get other fish, in which case, that’s entirely up to you! Just be sure to consider the needs of each fish when choosing suitable tank mates.

6 thoughts on “Do goldfish get lonely? Should you get another fish?”

  1. My goldfish school like other fish. I have one Koi, a butterfly koi and a Comet. This seems to indicate to me (anecdotal scientific experiment) that the like companionship. Another tankhad 1 Shubunkin. I got a 2nd one a day later. The swim together. We’re they lonely? Might not be the correct word. Do they prefer having a fish buddy? I think so.

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  2. I have kept goldfish for years. An I have had them alone and with others tank mates. I have to say they live a way longer happier life in a tank with other fish. They are more active with other fish in the tank as well. An i personally do believe they get board when they are alone. They will stay in the same spot and hide a lot. When there is more than one fish and they see the others swimming freely it gives them the confidence todo the same.

    Recently I got a 75 gallon and put one fancy gold fish in the tank to help start the tank. He was in that tank for about 6 month all by himself as I couldn’t decide what I wanted to put in the aquarium. He would not come out of his corner hiding spot and didn’t move or swim much at all exept for feeding time. And even then he was very timid. So I finally decided I wanted a goldfish tank so I bought 2 more oranda goldfish and put them with him and at first he was sceptical. But about 2 days after adding the newer fish. He completely changed his demeanor. He’s out more now, he’s swimming with them and his colors got brighter and he just seems like a happier fish.

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  3. Goldfish are absolutely social beings!!! This is quite obvious to anyone who has kept them and has any observational skills.

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  4. My Oranda lost her buddy about 10 months ago and after a month she began spending more and more of her time facing the corner unless I’m interacting with her during feeding and water changes. I want to get another Oranda but she is huge and I don’t have room for a larger tank yet. I think they definitely get lonely based on how mine is behaving.

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    • Hi Andi

      Do you mind us asking what caused your other fish to pass away?

      If one fish recently died and another is acting differently to usual, then it could be the sign of a problem in your tank (particularly as you suggest it isn’t really large enough).

      We’d be worried that this is the sign of a more serious problem than loneliness. Are all of your water parameters ok?

      Thank you

      Reply

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