Guppies and Goldfish: Can They Live Together?

Guppies and goldfish are both incredibly popular aquarium fish. However, they’re also very different species with very different needs.

So, can guppies and goldfish live together?

In this article, we look at how guppies and goldfish are similar, how they are different, and we find out whether goldfish and guppies can live together in the same tank.

How are guppies and goldfish similar?

Guppies and goldfish are similar in a number of ways.

Firstly, guppies and goldfish are both types of freshwater fish. This means that they come from bodies of water containing very low levels of salt.

Neither species could survive in salty water like seas or oceans. Guppies are native to freshwater streams of South America, while goldfish are descended from carp that were originally found in slow-moving bodies of freshwater in China.

Guppies and goldfish are also both omnivores, which means they will eat both plant and animal based foods.

You can feed similar foods to guppies and goldfish, including flakes, small/crushed pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms and vegetables. Though guppies will benefit from a higher protein diet than you might choose for a goldfish.

The final big similarity between guppies and goldfish is that both been selectively bred to display certain characteristics.

Guppies have been bred to display particular colors on their bodies and fins, as well as particular patterns and tail shapes.

Male guppy with an orange, red and black tail, on a black background
The fiery pattern on this guppy’s tail is the result of selective breeding over the course of several generations.

Meanwhile, goldfish have been bred to display certain colors, fin shapes, body shapes, eye sizes and head growths.

A red cap Oranda Goldfish close-up
The distinctive red wen or hood on this Red Cap Oranda is a characteristic that has been selectively bred in this type of goldfish

As you can see, there are lots of ways that guppies and goldfish are the same. But there are also lots of differences between them too!

What are the differences between guppies and goldfish?

There are a number of big differences between guppies and goldfish.

Firstly, it probably goes without saying that the two types of fish are completely different species. (So if you were hoping to create an amazing cross-breed of guppies and goldfish then unfortunately you’re going to be disappointed!)

One of the most obvious differences when you look at the two types of fish is that guppies are much smaller than goldfish. Guppies grow to a maximum of around 2 inches long, whereas goldfish can grow to be 10 inches long (or sometimes even bigger!).

Goldfish also have the potential to live for much longer than guppies. While the average lifespan for a guppy would be somewhere around 5 years, a goldfish can easily live for 10 years and sometimes survive for decades.

Last but not least, another important difference between guppies and goldfish is how they breed.

Guppies are “livebearers”, which means they give birth to live young, whereas goldfish are egg layers.

So, while a female guppy will give birth to babies (also known as fry), a female goldfish will lay eggs, from which baby goldfish will hatch a little while later.

What temperature is good for goldfish and guppies?

A good temperature for guppies is in the range of 72 to 82°F (22-28°C).

For goldfish a cooler tank temperature of between 68 and 74°F (20–23°C) is ideal.

While guppies and goldfish have different ideal temperature ranges, the good news for anyone who wants to keep guppies and goldfish together is that these ranges do overlap.

It is possible to keep guppies and goldfish in the same tank water. The temperature just needs to be around 72-74°F , which is on the high side for goldfish and on the cooler side for guppies.

Of course, temperature isn’t the only consideration when deciding whether fish can live together.

Do goldfish and guppies get along?

Guppies and goldfish are both peaceful fish that get along well with other peaceful species.

While every individual fish is different, neither guppies or goldfish would generally be described as aggressive and they are unlikely to fight each other.

The only reasons that guppies and goldfish fight is if they are kept in a tank that is too small, that does not have enough food, or if they are fighting with another male of their own species over a potential mate.

Otherwise, both types of fish are likely to get along with tank mates, both of their own kind and with other species.

However – there are two major problems that could stop guppies and goldfish getting along.

The first problem is that both fish are prone to nipping at the fins of their tank mates. And to make this worse, both guppies and goldfish have relatively long fins, almost begging to be nipped!

One fish deciding to constantly nip at the other fish’s fins can cause stress and injuries. Stress makes a fish more likely to get sick and injuries can get infected, which is a serious problem.

The second problem with keeping guppies and goldfish in the same tank is that goldfish can grow large enough to eat – or at least try to eat – smaller guppies.

While your goldfish probably won’t succeed in eating your guppy, it may well try. Like fin nipping, this can cause stress and injury.

Another risk is that your goldfish could get the guppy stuck in its mouth and choke, potentially killing both fish!

Even if your guppies and your goldfish seem to live happily together at first, this problem of your goldfish trying to eat your guppies can become an issue later. As the goldfish keeps growing, the guppies can start to look more and more like an appealing snack.

Can goldfish and guppies live together?

While it is technically possible to keep goldfish and guppies in the same tank and for them to live quite happily together for many years, we wouldn’t recommend it.

The three main reasons that goldfish and guppies are not truly compatible are:

  1. Guppies are tropical fish that prefer warmer water than goldfish. While they can tolerate certain similar temperatures, they don’t share the same ideal temperature. You will always be in a situation where your tank is too warm for your goldfish or too cold for your guppy.
  2. There is a serious risk of fin nipping which could cause one or both fish to get stressed or injured.
  3. Once your goldfish grows big enough to fit your guppies in its mouth, it may try to eat them. This is obviously dangerous for your guppy, and also a potential choking hazard for your goldfish.

Overall, our conclusion is that guppies and goldfish should not live together.

It’s far better to choose to keep only one species or to house them in their ideal conditions within separate tanks.

There many species of fish in the aquarium hobby that go perfectly together in the same tank setup. For that reason, we think there’s really no need to compromise and attempt to keep fish like guppies and goldfish together when they’re not the best match.

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