Do Goldfish Need Friends?

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Have you ever wondered if your goldfish gets lonely swimming solo in their fish tanks all day?

In the wild, you’ll typically see fish live in large groups, having some form of social structure and interaction. But do goldfish need friends to be truly happy?

We set out to find the answer.

Why do goldfish need friends?

While they may not form close bonds or show affection in the same way mammals do, goldfish do engage in social behaviors like schooling.

This involves swimming together in a coordinated manner and creating a sense of collective movement and safety. However, whether or not goldfish actually require social interaction to be happy is still somewhat debated among experts.

On the other hand, there’s some evidence suggesting that providing companionship for goldfish can lead to increased activity and prevent lethargy and depression.

If you have only one goldfish, adding another fish to the tank is often recommended to promote a healthier and more enriching environment.

Choosing suitable tankmates for goldfish

While goldfish generally get along well with other fish, that’s not always the case.

Look for tankmates that have similar water temperature requirements and are compatible with goldfish in terms of behavior, size, and activity levels.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Rosy Barb

One popular choice for goldfish tankmates is the Rosy Barb, a peaceful fish that can coexist well with goldfish due to its social nature and need for cooler water temperatures.

Bristlenose or Rubbernose Pleco

You may also want to think about adding a Bristlenose or Rubbernose Pleco to your goldfish tank.

These bottom-dwelling fish are known for their algae-eating abilities and can help keep the tank clean. They’re also not aggressive and won’t bother or be bothered by the goldfish.

Hoplo Catfish

Another great companion for goldfish is the Hoplo Catfish.

This smaller catfish species can easily acclimate to the same living conditions as goldfish and tend to do well in community tanks.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small, active fish, and like goldfish, they’re cold-water dwellers. In addition, their quick movements can also be used in case of any potential aggression.

Zebra Danio

Similar to White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Zebra Danios are small and fast-moving and can handle any chasing or nipping behaviors from other fish.

They also prefer their water to be on the cooler side and are less likely to start territorial disputes, making them a great match for goldfish.

Dojo Loach

Dojo loaches (sometimes called weather loaches or pond loaches) are known for their non-aggressive nature and you’ll mostly find them kicking back at the bottom of the tank, exploring their surroundings.

Plus, their unique appearance with long, slender bodies can add an interesting contrast to the rounder shape of goldfish.

Species to avoid

Some species to avoid as tankmates for goldfish include tropical fish such as guppies and mollies since they require warmer water temperatures.

Aggressive species (for example, cichlids, bettas, and tetras) should be also avoided.

How to introduce new friends to your goldfish

Now that you have a better understanding of which fish are suitable tankmates for goldfish, Let’s learn how to introduce them properly.

Introducing new friends to your goldfish should be done slowly and gradually to minimize stress and reduce the chances of aggression.

Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Before introducing new fish to your goldfish tank, quarantine them first. This will prevent the spread of diseases and ensure that the newcomers are healthy.
  • Make sure the water is clean and well-maintained to create a comfortable and less stressful environment for both your goldfish and the new additions.
  • Don’t add the fish to the tank one at a time. Instead, introduce them in pairs or small groups to reduce the chances of them being singled out or bullied.
  • Provide shelter and hiding places for the new fish to feel secure. This includes adding rocks, plants, and other decorations to the tank.
  • Similarly, rearrange the existing decorations in the tank to establish a new and unfamiliar territory for all the fish and minimize territorial aggression.
  • Always introduce new fish to your goldfish during feeding time. This way, the focus will be on food rather than on fighting.

Keep an eye on your fish and watch out for any signs of aggression or stress such as excessive chasing, fin-nipping, or hiding for long periods).

In summary

While goldfish may not form deep emotional bonds with other fish, they do engage in social behaviors and interactions and can benefit from having companionship.

That said, when selecting tank mates, it’s essential to choose species that have similar environmental requirements and temperament. Additionally, be sure to introduce new fish slowly and carefully to minimize any stress or aggression.

About the author

Li-ran B.

Li-ran has been taking care of fish since he was a young kid and considers himself a self-proclaimed aquatic hobbyist at heart. What started as a simple childhood curiosity quickly turned into a full-fledged passion. Currently, his new obsessions are nano aquariums and glowing fish tank decorations.