What fish can live with goldfish? 18 great tank mates!

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 species are saltwater fish, while others could never survive in the ocean.

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?

What fish can live with goldfish?

Our experts have given this some serious thought and have come up with an ultimate list of 18 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

Platy

Temp: 64 – 77 °F | Max Size: 3 inches

Photo of Platy
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

Photo of Black Skirt Tetra
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

Photo of Bloodfin Tetra
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

Photo of Checker Barb
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

Photo of Corydoras Catfish
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.

Further reading: You’ll find a comprehensive guide to Cory Catfish at our sister-site, Aqatic.com.

Giant Danio

Temp: 72 – 75 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

Photo of Giant Danio
“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

Photo of Gold Barb
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

Photo of Hillstream Loach
Hillstream Loaches. 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

Photo of Japanese Rice Fish
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

Photo of Murray River Rainbow Fish
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

Photo of Rosy Barb
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.

Scissortail Rasbora

Temp: 73 – 77 °F | Max Size: 5 inches

Photo of 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

Photo of Weather Loach (aka Dojo Loach)
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

A single White Cloud Mountain Minnow exploring some gravel
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

Photo of Zebra Danio
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

Photo of Apple Snail (Mystery Snail)
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…

Bamboo shrimp

Temp: 68 – 85 °F | Max Size: 4 inches

Photo of Bamboo shrimp
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

A Ghost Shrimp blending into a red rock and gray gravel background
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.

18 Goldfish Tank Mates Listed

Our 18 top goldfish tank mates are:

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

16 thoughts on “What fish can live with goldfish? 18 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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • Hi Tania, thanks for your comment,

      we usually don’t recommend keeping axolotls with fish, this is for a few reasons,
      the main one is that an adult salamander will eat any fish small enough to fit in its mouth.

      I have kept axolotls in the past and I used to feed them frozen sprats, which are a 3 – 4″ long fish, and they ate them very easily. So smaller goldfish would definitely be eaten!

      larger Fish can also pick at the gills of the axolotl, as they look like worms, this causes stress for them and can actually kill them, as they use these gills to breathe.

      Another problem they face is that fish are much better swimmers and will get to food before the axolotls, so unless you target feed them, the goldfish will eat their food.

      From our experience, we propose the idea that keeping fish and axolotls together is unwise

      a better alternative amphibian to live with goldfish are African clawed frogs, yes they will eat fish smaller than 3″, but they live with larger goldfish quite well!

      hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
    • Axolotls are species only. I would worry the ammonia from the goldfish waste would be harmful to the axolotl.

      Reply
  3. Hi there!!
    I want to point out an error in this article.
    Under the heading of Bristlenose Plecos, it is written:
    ” _Max Size: 5 inches_ ”
    But in the paragraph following the heading, it’s written:
    “Bristlenose Plecos are much smaller than Common Plecos, which can grow up to 15 inches.”
    Again in the cons, it’s written:
    “Bristlenose Plecos are pretty big fish – up to 5 inches – so…. ”

    I think it was a typo. Make sure you would see into this matter.

    Reply
    • Thanks Johnly. It’s not actually an error – the correct size for Bristlenose plecos is 5 inches, as mentioned under the heading and in the cons, whereas the paragraph you quote refers to the larger Common Pleco. However, we have rephrased the sentence to hopefully make it clearer. Thank you for the feedback!

      Reply
  4. Thank you for this!! I have 3 goldfish and I was wondering for a while if I could put in other fish friends with them. I think I’m gonna put in some platys!

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your comment,
      I assume you mean Neon tetras by red blue and green, these don’t really make ideal tankmates for goldfish, although it can definitely be done, they enjoy different water parameters which conflict with each other, tetras like high temperatures, low pH and soft hardness, which goldfish do not like to live in.
      Neon tetras are also very small and would be easily swallowed by large goldfish.
      hope this helps.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for these suggestions. We have two goldfish with 6 platies, 2 bristlenose plecos, 3 kuhli loaches, and 2 mystery snails. They are very happy and lively and a pleasure to watch. The colours of the goldfish (fantail calico) and the platies (reds, blues, whites etc) look attractive and contrasting together. I’m interested in trying rose barbs in my next tank with goldfish.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Miia,
      Glad to hear you are happy with your community tank.
      Rosey barbs can be a good choice with goldfish, just remember that they can be very boisterous at times and are always the first to get food!

      Reply
  6. I saw a few Barb species in this list, and I like the idea of the Gold Barbs. What about Cherry Barbs? Do you think those would work well with goldfish? I saw another site that said they should be ok, but they also prefer a pH from 6-7.0, which is a bit lower than goldfish like right?

    Reply
    • Hi Scott, thanks for your comment,
      Cherry barbs are okay with smaller fancy goldfish, but with larger goldfish and comets they do not fair well due to their small size, they can be easily eaten by goldfish.
      Cherry barbs are also fairly hardy, and can withstand a much wider pH range, what they prefer the most is stability and a pH that doesnt fluctuate often.
      they do best at 24-25C at around 7ph, which is fine for goldfish too.

      I would also recommend ocellated or snakeskin barbs if you are looking for more suggestions, very beautiful fish with a placid temperament for a barb, which is really good.
      They do like to stick in groups though, so get a few. But they can sometimes nip at extremely long fins and are quick feeders so may not do best with fancies.
      Hope this helps.

      Reply

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