10 Best Tank Mates for Your Goldfish

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 keeping goldfish, we have put together a list of our top tips for keeping them mates.


Which Fishes Can You Keep with Goldfish?

These are some general guidelines that you can follow if you have ever seen a cool-looking fish and wondered if it would be a good match for your goldfish.

Do not allow aggressive fish to pick on your goldenfish. In general, the goldfish are calm and peaceful creatures that do not tolerate aggressive barbs, African or 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. Keep away from spiny and small fish. They love to explore the world and get everything in their mouths. The majority of species we avoid are small enough to fit inside their mouths. Therefore, when selecting tank mates, be sure to consider the maximum size of full-grown goldfish. Keep an eye out for small fish with spines like cory catfish or otocinclus. These fish could get stuck in the gill plates of a goldfish if they are swallowed. Maintain tank mates with the same temperatures as goldfish. Fish can live in a room at any temperature, without the need for a heater. This environment is suitable for many fish. Also, the tank mates must be able to live off a diet that is catered towards goldfish. There is a chance that the goldfish may become overweight if you add a tough predator to their diet.

With these ground rules in mind, here are our top 10 tank mates that we have personally tested and found to be compatible with goldfish:

1. Hillstream Loach

This bizarre fish is a miniature stingray that acts as a plecostomus or pleco. It eats algae and scavenges food scraps. The fish grips glass so tightly that even goldfish can’t grab them. Best of all, they enjoy cooler temperatures just like goldfish do. This fish category includes the reticulated hillsstream loach (Borneo sucker loach), Chinese butterfly loach (and many other flat-bodied loaches).

Beautiful 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. Imagine if you could find a huge corydora. Enter the Brochis multiradiatus, also known as the hog-nosed catfish or Corydoras multiradiatus. This docile bottom dweller looks like an overgrown cory catfish that reaches up to 4 inches in size. They make excellent clean-up crew members because they love digging through the substrate to vacuum up any leftovers. We haven’t noticed any spines on their dorsal or pectoral fins. They are too big to be considered food for goldfish.

Brochis multiradiatus

3. Dojo Loach

Dojo loaches (or weather loaches), are like a foot-long hot dog with fins. They love to swim around and burrow into the gravel. These friendly creatures thrive in cold water and are a popular addition to many goldfish tanks. They are usually available for $5 for the standard version, and $10 for the specialty or albino variants. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true tank mate for goldfish, you can’t go wrong with the dojo loach.

Dojo Loach


4. Bristlenose Pleco

This might seem a controversial choice, as some people claim they can eat the slime of a goldfish’s skin. We have found that larger plecos are more likely to suffer this because they are not getting enough food. 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 calmed before you target feed the pleco a delicious meal of sinking wafers.

Bristlenose Pleco

5. Rubbernose Pleco

These plecostomus are also called the rubber lip or bulldog pip. However, they do not have any bristles in their noses. They have the same traits and care requirements, and they grow to about the same size of 5 to 6 inches long. Most have spots covering their entire bodies or on their face. These plecos are common in pet shops. If you’re looking for a pleco that doesn’t have “facial hair,” try this peaceful algae-eater.

6. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Cold water minnows are a great option if you don’t have fancy goldfish. They are quite affordable, will school together and only grow 1.5-2 inches in length. When you first buy them, they’ll be much smaller, so consider growing them out (and even breeding them) before adding them to the goldfish tank. Yes, these fish are able to fit in the goldfish’s mouths. However, they are very fast and agile compared to slower fancy goldfish. (In the event that one does accidentally get eaten, it’s not harmful to the goldfish.)

There are many kinds of white minnows. 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

7. Ricefish

The incredible ricefish can be found along with the white cloudminnows. The cool water family has many species and colors such as blue, orange, platinum white and orange. At $5 to $10 each, they’re not as cheap as white clouds, but they breed easily and are a beautiful compliment to many of the other fish on this list. Remember that they will increase the aquarium’s bioload (or total waste load), so ensure you have enough tank space to accommodate both the goldfish, and any tank mates.

Daisy’s ricefish

8. Hoplo Catfish

This spiny, but gentle catfish is similar to a large otocinclus. It can grow up to 5-6 inches in length. There are three species: the flag tail hoplo, Megalechis thoracata and Megalechis picta. Hoplo catfish are characterized by their long whiskers, which allow them to constantly forage for food. Hoplos eat in the daytime unlike rubbernose plecos or bristlenoses.

Hoplo Catfish

9. Variatus Platy

It might seem strange to choose a livebearer (or fish which gives birth to live young) as your goldfish tank mate. But we’ve had great times with this match-up in the past. One of the platy fish species, the variatus plate (Xiphophorus variatus), can live in colder waters. Some people don’t like livebearers as they can give rise to so many babies. But in this case your goldfish is happy to eat most of them and keep the population under check.

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. Finally, they serve as fantastic clean-up crew members, constantly picking at algae or excess food hidden in the tank.

Metallic Blue Ply

10. Longfin Rosy Longfin Rosy Barbs

We advised that aggressive and semi-aggressive barbs should be avoided. This is unfortunate because many barbs are able to survive in cooler environments. There are many peaceful barbs, such as rosy barbs, that can live with your goldfish if you just follow a few rules.

Tip #1: Get a larger school rosy-barbs to prevent bullying. If there are 10 or more of them (males more aggressive than females), they will tend to entertain themselves and leave the other fish alone. 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: Keep rosy barbs together with single-tailed common goldfish. The barbs might still be too fast to your fancy goldfish’s taste.

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. Be sure to consider the size, diet, pH, aggression, as well as the temperature of the tankmate. If you find a species that fits all the right criteria, it may be the next perfect roommate for your goldfish aquarium!

Check out our complete care guide for fancy goldfish. This includes information about their living conditions and favorite foods.