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What fish can live with goldfish? 21 great tank mates!

Minnows are a fish that can live with goldfish

There are hundreds of fish that can live with goldfish, so if you’re looking for new fish to add to your goldfish tank, there are plenty to choose from.

However, not all fish will make the best goldfish tank mates.

Every type of fish has different needs. For instance, some fish like warm water, others like cold water, some like saltwater, others don’t. Because you’ll want all of your fish to be healthy and happy, it’s important to choose tank mates that like similar tank conditions.

Tank conditions for fish to live with goldfish

Goldfish are freshwater fish that like a temperature of 65 – 80 °F, so fish that live with goldfish should like this setup too. But temperature is just one factor to consider.

In addition, some things to think about include:

  • Is your tank big enough for all the fish?
  • Will the other fish nip your goldfish’s fins?
  • Could the other fish suck on your goldfish’s scales?
  • Might the fish chase each other around the tank?
  • Could the goldfish try to eat the other fish?
  • Will either fish out-compete the other for food?
  • What are the risks of adding new fish to a tank?
  • Will the fish look good together?

We look at all of these factors more closely in our guide to keeping other fish with goldfish.

What fish can live with goldfish?

Our experts have given this some serious thought and have come up with an ultimate list of 21 possible goldfish tank mates.

This list generally assumes that we are talking about fancy goldfish types, living in an aquarium. This is because fancy goldfish are slower moving and therefore less likely to bother their tank mates.

However, some fish on this list may also live with small (i.e. young) slim-bodied goldfish, as they are less likely to be able to eat their tank mates due to their small mouths.

Larger slim-bodied goldfish are best kept in a pond, which presents different challenges and requirements.

So, what fish can live with goldfish? We’ll start with our top two choices, then list fifteen other options. And finally, for those of you looking for something a bit different, we suggest four tank mates that aren’t even fish!

The best goldfish tank mates

Our top two fish that can live with goldfish are

Bristlenose Plecos

and

Platies

These are two very different types of fish, so whatever you’re looking for – and however your tank is set up – chances are one of these will work for you.

Let’s look at them more closely.

Bristlenose Pleco

Temp: 70 – 80 °F | Max Size: 5 inches

A Bristlenose Pleco - one of our top two picks for the best fish to live with goldfish
Bristlenose Plecos are one of our top two goldfish tank mates. Photo credit: André Karwath aka Aka [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Bristlenose Plecos are much smaller than Common Plecos, which can grow up to 15 inches. Therefore, Bristlenose Plecos fall into a useful sweet spot of being small enough to fit into many goldfish tanks, without being so small that goldfish can eat them.

Choosing a Pleco to live with your goldfish comes with a big advantage too: Plecos love to eat algae, so will keep your tank nice and clean!

And while some Plecos have been known to suck on goldfish scales – often causing serious injury – this issue is very rarely reported with the Bristlenose Pleco.

Pros of keeping Bristlenose Plecos with goldfish:

☑ Unlike other Plecos, Bristlenoses don’t usually suck on goldfish scales.

☑ Bristlenose Plecos will eat algae from your tank, which keeps it clean.

☑ They generally stay near the bottom of the tank, adding interest to an area that might otherwise be empty.

Cons of keeping Bristlenose Plecos with goldfish:

✖ Bristlenose Plecos don’t usually suck on goldfish scales. However, there is always a risk that your particular Pleco may decide to!

✖ Bristlenose Plecos are pretty big fish – up to 5 inches – so you will need plenty of room for both your Plecos and your goldfish.

Platy

Temp: 64 – 77 °F | Max Size: 3 inches

A Platy - the second of our two best recommendations for goldfish tank mates
Platies are the second of our top two fish that can live with goldfish. Photo credit: Marrabbio2 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Platies (or ‘Platy Fish’) are small livebearers that come in a wide range of colours.

Platies breed relatively easily and can give birth to dozens of fry (babies) at a time. However, you won’t need to worry about your goldfish tank becoming overrun. This is because all of the fry are likely to be eaten by your goldfish and the Platies themselves. (Needless to say, if you can’t bear to see this happen, you need to stop them breeding or accept that Platies may not be the fish for you!)

Though it might seem strange to recommend a small livebearer for a goldfish tank, Platies are chunky enough to avoid being eaten. They’re also placid and unlikely to nip at your goldfish.

Pros of keeping Platy Fish with goldfish:

☑ Platy Fish are peaceful, so very unlikely to nip at your goldfish.

☑ They are small, but usually big enough to not get eaten.

☑ Platies are easy to care for.

☑ Platies are available in lots of patterns and colors.

Cons of keeping Platy Fish with goldfish:

✖ Platies grow to a maximum size of 3 inches, so they are just about big enough for most goldfish to not view them as a potential snack. However, if you have large goldfish and small Platies, please do be careful!

Good goldfish tank mates

Generally speaking, the fish listed below will live quite happily in an aquarium with fancy goldfish.

That’s why we’ve called them “good” goldfish tank makes. In other words, they’re not perfect, but they should be fine.

Please do read carefully though. Choose the best fish for your own situation, and be ready to remove the new fish from the tank if there are any problems.

Black Skirt Tetra

Temp: 68 – 78 °F | Max Size: 3 inches

For Black Skirt Tetras to live with goldfish, you'll need room for six of more
A single Black Skirt Tetra. We recommend keeping a school of 6 or more. Photo credit: emptyvi [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Black Skirt Tetras with goldfish:

☑ Black Skirt Tetras are hardy and easy to care for.

☑ They’re fast, so can out-run goldfish if necessary.

☑ Like the Platy, Black Skirt Tetras are usually too big for goldfish to try to eat.

Cons of keeping Black Skirt Tetras with goldfish:

✖ You’ll need room in your goldfish tank for a school of six or more Black Skirt Tetras.

✖ They’re not always the most lively fish.

✖ There is some risk of Black Skirt Tetras nipping goldfish fins.

Bloodfin Tetra

Temp: 64 – 82 °F | Max Size: Just over 2 inches

This school of Bloodfin Tetras could live happily with goldfish
A school of Bloodfin Tetra. Photo credit: VGW2006 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Bloodfin Tetras with goldfish:

☑ Bloodfin Tetras are hardy, so good for beginners.

☑ They’re also fast, so can out-run goldfish if necessary .

Cons of keeping Bloodfin Tetras with goldfish:

✖ You’ll need enough room in your goldfish tank for a school of at least 5 Bloodfin Tetras.

✖ There is some risk of Bloodfin Tetras nipping goldfish.

✖ At just over 2 inches, Bloodfin Tetras are only just large enough to safely live with goldfish.

Checker Barb

Temp: 68 – 75 °F | Max Size: 2 inches

Checker Barbs are a potential goldfish tank mate
The Checker Barb, also known as the Checkered Barb or Checkerboard Barb. Photo credit: Dodoni [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Checker Barbs with goldfish:

☑ Checker Barbs are a placid fish that is a good fit for community tanks.

☑ They are fast, so can out-run fancy goldfish, which tend to be slow swimmers.

Cons of keeping Checker Barbs with goldfish:

✖ At around 2 inches, Checker Barbs are only just large enough to safely live with goldfish. Therefore, there is some risk of larger goldfish attempting to eat Checker Barbs.

✖ You will need enough room for not just one, but a school of Checker Barbs.

Corydoras Catfish

Temp: 60 – 75 °F | Max Size: 2.5 inches

Corydoras will help to keep your goldfish tank clean
Corydoras are a popular, and relatively easy-to-care-for, type of catfish. Photo credit: Matthew Mannell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Corydoras Catfish with goldfish:

☑ Corydoras will hunt out food scraps at the bottom of the tank, eating them rather than leaving them to rot, which helps keep your tank clean

☑ They are very peaceful and certainly won’t give your goldfish any trouble. However, the reverse may not necessarily be true.

Cons of keeping Corydoras Catfish with goldfish:

✖ As your Corydoras live at the bottom of the tank, you may struggle to feed them without their food being grabbed by your goldfish first.

✖ Corydoras are a schooling fish, so you will need room to keep a small group together.

✖ As with other smaller fish on this list, there is a chance that goldfish will attempt to eat them.

Giant Danio

Temp: 72 – 75 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

Not exactly giant really, but Giant Danios are large enough to live with goldfish
“Giant” is a relative term! These minnows grow to a maximum of 4 inches. Photo credit: Faucon [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Giant Danios with goldfish:

☑ Giant Danios are large enough to avoid being eaten by goldfish.

☑ They are fast and active, which means they will stay out of trouble and add plenty of interesting activity to your tank.

Cons of keeping Giant Danios with goldfish:

✖ Giant Danios grow to 4 inches and should be kept with other Giant Danios, so you will need a large tank.

Gold Barb

Temp: 64 – 75 °F | Max Size: 3 inches

More so than goldfish themselves, Gold Barbs will add a true golden color to a goldfish tank
It’s not difficult to work out how these Barbs get their name. Photo by and (c)2004 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Gold Barbs with goldfish:

☑ Gold Barbs are hardy and easy to care for

☑ They have a fantastic golden color that will brighten up any aquarium.

Cons of keeping Gold Barbs with goldfish:

✖ Barbs can have a tendency to be territorial and nip goldfish fins. This is usually less of a problem with Gold Barbs than with some other types (such as Tiger Barbs), but it is still a risk.

✖ You will need room for at least 5 Gold Barbs, as well as your goldfish.

Hillstream Loach

Temp: 61 – 75 °F | Max Size: 3 inches

These Hillstream Loaches are small, cool water fish that can live with goldfish
The loaches pictured here are less than 2 inches long. Photo credit: Lerdsuwa [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Hillstream Loaches with goldfish:

☑ Hillstream loaches are generally peaceful, though may defend their territory or source of food.

☑ Loaches will help to keep your tank clear of algae.

Cons of keeping Hillstream Loaches with goldfish:

✖ It may be difficult to ensure your loaches get enough food without it being snapped up by the goldfish first.

✖ Your tank will need an area of fast-flowing water. Your loaches will enjoy this, but your goldfish might not!

Japanese Rice Fish

Temp: 65 – 75 °F | Max Size: 1.5 inches

A Japanese Rice Fish - this fish could live with a goldfish, but there is some risk of it being eaten
Japanese Rice Fish are tiny and best kept with smaller, slower-moving goldfish. Photo credit: NOZO [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Japanese Rice Fish with goldfish:

☑ Japanese Rice Fish are an ideal ‘starter fish’ for beginners, similar to the White Cloud Mountain Minnow.

☑ Although you should keep Japanese Rice Fish in groups of six or more, they are small enough to not take up a huge amount of tank space

Cons of keeping Japanese Rice Fish with goldfish:

✖ At just one and a half inches long, Japanese Rice Fish are at risk of getting eaten by goldfish – if the goldfish can catch them.

Murray River Rainbow Fish

Temp: 71 – 78 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

At up to four inches in length, Murray River Rainbow Fish are too large for goldfish to eat
Murray River Rainbow Fish are also known as Australian Rainbow Fish. Photo credit: Bahudhara [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Murray River Rainbow Fish with goldfish:

☑ Murray River Rainbow Fish are a very colorful fish that will brighten up any goldfish tank.

☑ They are very hardy and therefore low maintenance.

☑ They are peaceful fish and therefore unlikely to harass goldfish or any other tank mates.

Cons of keeping Murray River Rainbow Fish with goldfish:

✖ You will need enough space for at least three, preferably more, Murray River Rainbow Fish in your tank.

Rosy Barb

Temp: 64 – 72 °F | Max Size: 6 inches

You'll need plenty of space to keep Rosy Barbs with goldfish
Rosy Barbs are best kept in groups and can grow to 6 inches, which means you’ll need a lot of space to keep them with goldfish. Photo credit: Kkonstan [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Rosy Barbs with goldfish:

☑ Rosy Barbs are another great choice for any goldfish-keeper looking to add color to their aquarium.

☑ Rosy Barbs are very active fish and will provide plenty of interest and entertainment.

Cons of keeping Rosy Barbs with goldfish:

✖ At up to six inches long – and as a schooling fish – you will need a very large tank to keep both Rosy Barbs and goldfish.

Rubberlip Pleco

Temp: 70 – 78 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

Pros of keeping Rubberlip Plecos with goldfish:

☑ Rubberlip Plecos are much smaller than the Common Pleco, which makes them far better suited to a community tank.

☑ They have similar environmental requirements to goldfish.

☑ Rubberlip Plecos are quite placid, non-aggressive fish.

Cons of keeping Rubberlip Plecos with goldfish:

✖ While they are generally not aggressive, Rubberlip Plecos are physically capable of sucking on goldfish scales, which means there’s always a risk of serious injury to your goldfish.

Scissortail Rasbora

Temp: 73 – 77 °F | Max Size: 5 inches

Two Scissortail Rasbora
Also known as the Three-lined Rasbora. Photo credit: Lerdsuwa [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Scissortail Rasboras with goldfish:

☑ Scissortail Rasboras are a placid fish that does well in community tanks.

☑ Their streamlined bodies contrast well with fuller-bodied fancy goldfish, so they are a good aesthetic choice.

☑ Scissortail Rasboras have interesting tail patterns and a brilliant silver sheen.

Cons of keeping Scissortail Rasboras with goldfish:

✖ Your tank will be need to be quite warm, in the region of 73 – 77 °F.

✖ Scissortail Rasboras are a five-inch-long schooling fish, so a large tank will be required to keep six or more with goldfish.

Weather Loach (aka Dojo Loach)

Temp: 45 – 77 °F | Max Size: 11 inches

Only the biggest goldfish tanks - or more likely ponds - could be home to goldfish and Weather Loaches
These eel-like fish can grow to be long! Photo credit: Manoel Jr. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Weather Loaches with goldfish:

☑ Weather Loaches are fascinating creatures. For instance, did you know they can survive for HOURS out of water?

☑ Weather Loaches are friendly, social fish that do well in a community, as long as they have enough space and are not housed with aggressive tank mates.

Cons of keeping Weather Loaches with goldfish:

✖ Weather Loaches are BIG – growing up to eleven inches.

✖ You’ll want to keep three or more Weather Loaches so will need a really big tank. Ideally, the tank should be wide as well as long, to give the Weather Loaches plenty of room to explore.

✖ Weather Loaches like to burrow in sand or small round gravel, which you may not want in your goldfish setup.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Temp: 45 – 75 °F | Max Size: 1.5 inches

Like goldfish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows are often seen as beginner fish
White Cloud Mountain Minnows can be kept with goldfish but their small size means it is a risk. Your goldfish may attempt to eat them.

Pros of keeping White Cloud Mountain Minnows with goldfish:

☑ A small fish, but still interesting, with a bit of color. It is easy to keep a group of six or more White Cloud Mountain Minnows without the need for a huge tank.

☑ White Cloud Mountain Minnows are fantastic beginner fish, as they are extremely hardy.

Cons of keeping White Cloud Mountain Minnows with goldfish:

✖ Though we have included White Cloud Mountain Minnows on this list, at just one and a half inches long, there is a real risk that they may get eaten.

✖ Remember – your goldfish attempting to eat a Minnow isn’t just dangerous for the Minnow, it’s dangerous for the goldfish too, as they could choke.

Zebra Danio

Temp: 65 – 78 °F | Max Size: 2 inches

Zebra Danios can live with goldfish and add a lot of pattern variety and color to a goldfish tank
Zebra Danios (aka Zebrafish) are similar to White Cloud Mountain Minnows in many ways, though slightly larger. Photo credit: Azul [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Zebra Danios with goldfish:

☑ You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Zebra Danios. Colour varieties include Gold, Albino and Blue Danios, and you can get Long-finned Danios too. There are even Leopard Danios which – as the name suggests – have spots instead of stripes!

☑ As a similar fish to White Cloud Mountain Minnows (above), Zebra Danios share the benefits of being a small but interesting fish that can cope with a wide variety of water conditions.

Cons of keeping Zebra Danios with goldfish:

✖ Although they are usually okay, there have been reports of some Zebra Danios nipping goldfish fins.

Animals other than fish that can live with goldfish

We’ve looked at what fish can live with goldfish… but what about tank mates that aren’t fish?

If you’re looking for something a little different, one of these four options might just be for you.

Apple Snail (Mystery Snail)

Temp: 64 – 82 °F | Max Size: 6 inches

An Apple Snail is usually too difficult for a goldfish to eat, so they can normally live in a goldfish tank
Photo credit: Stijn Ghesquiere [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Apple Snails with goldfish:

☑ Their size and shell keeps them safe from being eaten by goldfish. Usually, goldfish will investigate the Apple Snail but stop bothering it once they realise it’s not food.

Cons of keeping Apple Snails with goldfish:

✖ Apple Snails may not be as active in cooler goldfish tanks.

✖ Apple Snails like to eat a lot and may eat your plants. You may therefore want to use fake plants (or none at all) if you’re going to keep an Apple Snail.

Find out more about keeping snails with goldfish…

Axolotls

Temp: 60 – 64 °F | Max Size: 10 inches

An Axolotl would be an usual goldfish tank mate - but it is possible
Though sometimes known as the “Mexican Walking Fish”, Axolotls are not fish at all, they’re actually amphibians. Photo credit: Stan Shebs [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is more of a technically possible animal to keep with fancy goldfish, as opposed to a recommendation. We’d generally recommend keeping an axolotl as a pet in a tank of its own.

Pros of keeping an Axolotls with goldfish:

☑ Axolotls won’t usually bother goldfish, and if the goldfish bother them, they will nip back. This often results in a stalemate, where the goldfish and Axolotls live peacefully.

☑ Look at them! Axolotls are fascinating creatures!

Cons of keeping an Axolotls with goldfish:

✖ The ideal temperature range for Axolotls (60 – 64 °F) lies just outside our minimum recommended temperature for goldfish, which is 65 °F.

✖ Any significant water flow in its tank may lead to your Axolotl becoming stressed.

✖ Unlike most fish on this list – which are at risk of being eaten by your goldfish – in this case, smaller goldfish are at risk of being eaten by the Axolotl!

✖ Axolotls are large, so you’ll need a very big tank to keep them with goldfish.

Bamboo shrimp

Temp: 68 – 85 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

Shrimp can make an interesting addition to a fish tank, and the Bamboo Shrimp is a good choice
Photo credit: Faucon [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Pros of keeping Bamboo Shrimp with goldfish:

☑ Bamboo Shrimp are larger than Ghost Shrimp, below, which will help them to avoid being eaten.

☑ If you provide plenty of hiding places, your shrimp will usually stay hidden and keep well away from your goldfish.

Cons of keeping Bamboo Shrimp with goldfish:

✖ Even if they don’t succeed, there is a chance that your goldfish will try to eat your Bamboo Shrimp, which can cause the shrimp a lot of stress.

Ghost shrimp

Temp: 72 – 82 °F | Max Size: 2 inches

This is a Ghost Shrimp - you might have to look closely to see it!
You can add Ghost Shrimp to your goldfish tank… but you might struggle to spot them again!

Pros of keeping Ghost Shrimp with goldfish:

☑ Ghost Shrimp’s transparency can help them to hide from goldfish, though you should still provide plenty of good hiding spots too.

Cons of keeping Ghost Shrimp with goldfish:

✖ As with Bamboo Shrimp, above, the main problem with keeping Ghost Shrimp and goldfish together is the risk of your shrimp being eaten by your goldfish.

21 Goldfish Tank Mates Listed

Our 21 top goldfish tank mates are:

  1. Bristlenose Plecos
  2. Platies
  3. Black Skirt Tetras
  4. Bloodfin Tetras
  5. Checker Barbs
  6. Corydoras Catfish
  7. Giant Danios
  8. Gold Barbs
  9. Hillstream Loaches
  10. Japanese Rice Fish
  11. Murray River Rainbow Fish
  12. Rosy Barbs
  13. Rubberlip Plecos
  14. Scissortail Rasboras
  15. Weather Loaches
  16. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  17. Zebra Danios
  18. Apple Snails
  19. Axolotls
  20. Bamboo Shrimp
  21. Ghost Shrimp

Do you agree with our list?

The topic of what fish can live with goldfish can often spark heated debate!

We know that there will be some people who strongly disagree with the suggestions above. Equally, there will be people who have successfully kept all of these fish with goldfish.

Please share your experiences in the comments. We’d love to know about your own successes and failures when it comes to finding goldfish tank mates.

3 thoughts on “What fish can live with goldfish? 21 great tank mates!”

  1. I have a common pleco with my goldfish in a 50 gallon tank and he grew to about 11 inches. My goldfish is 9 inches long and 6 years old. The pleco is 5 years old. I also have in the tank: 4 Pepper Cory catfish and 2 Bronze Corys for 4 years. Every day has been peaceful and all the fish get along well.

  2. I wish I’d known about the Bristlenose pleco before I got my common pleco. I love him and luckily I have a large tank, but he’s almost a foot long. My goldfish and him have been best buds for the past 5 years. The goldfish is also very large; about 9 or 10 inches. People definitely should be prepared to have a lot of room for either of these types of fish.

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