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Can Neon Tetras And Goldfish Live Together?

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Goldfish are immensely popular, and the same goes for neon tetras.

But what about keeping them together in the same tank? Is it a good idea? Will they get along? And what about the water parameters?

In this article, I will answer all these questions and many more. Let’s dive right in.

Can I Keep Neon Tetras And Goldfish In The Same Tank?

Unfortunately, goldfish and neon tetras cannot live together in the same tank.

You can configure a tank that accommodates neon tetras and goldfish. But don’t be surprised if you lose one or both species.

They don’t thrive in the same water conditions. Adjusting the parameters to fit one species will most likely harm the other.

After all, neon tetras are tropical creatures that enjoy warm water, while goldfish prefer cooler conditions.

That doesn’t even account for the size difference.

Neon tetras can grow to an average of 1.5 inches, which pales in comparison to the many 18-inch, 7-pound goldfish you find in community aquariums.

Your goldfish are more likely to snack on their tiny neon tetra neighbors.

Also Read: 19 Great Neon Tetra Tank Mates

Neon Tetras vs. Goldfish: Behavior

If you’re determined to put neon tetras and goldfish in the same tank, you’re in luck because their temperaments are surprisingly similar.

If they clash, it won’t be because of their natural behavior.

Neon Tetras: Natural Behavior

Neon tetras are too peaceful to initiate violent encounters with their neighbors.

They have social personalities that allow them to co-exist with fish from other species. You can blame this attribute on their schooling tendencies.

The creatures are happiest in large groups, which is why many people keep them in community tanks. 

Goldfish: Natural Behavior

You will be hard-pressed to find a friendlier fish species than goldfish. They don’t manifest the territorial tendencies you expect in creatures of their size.

Like neon tetras, goldfish are schooling fish. While they can live alone, goldfish are happier in groups. The larger the group, the happier the goldfish.

This is why bowls are a terrible idea. Many newcomers use them to house goldfish.

But a bowl cannot provide ample space for a sizable school of goldfish. A single goldfish in a community tank is more likely to lash out.

Ideal Parameters For Neon Tetras And Goldfish

Goldfish64 to 75 (F)7.0 to 8.44 to 8 dGH
Neon Tetras72 to 76 (F)6.0 to 7.05 to 15 dGH

Neon Tetras: Ideal Parameters

Neon tetras can tolerate temperature ranges as wide as 70 to 81 degrees F.

Although, they don’t appreciate cooler water. You should also keep the pH and hardness rating below 7.0 and 10dGH, respectively.

Neon tetras originate from tropical regions. Try to replicate the environments they typically encounter in South America to keep them happy.

Goldfish: Ideal Parameters

This is where problems arise. This is a cold-water fish. The species prefers cooler temperatures than what you find in neon tetra environments.

Admittedly, some goldfish can tolerate a neon tetra’s temperatures. The most notable example is the fancy goldfish.

It requires 68 to 74 degrees F, which fits within the neon tetra’s ideal temperature range (72 to 76 F). You can’t say the same for comets, which need 60 – 70 degrees F.

Even if a goldfish can survive in a neon tetra’s tank, you have one more challenge to consider.

Higher temperatures are dangerous because they lower the goldfish’s resistance to diseases.

Keep in mind that goldfish are already more vulnerable to illnesses and infections. A disease in your goldfish population can wipe out the entire aquarium.

Neon Tetras And Goldfish: Ideal Conditions

GoldfishNeon Tetras
NitrateLess than 30ppmLess than 20ppm
Tank Size20 gallonsMinimum 10 – 20 gallons
HeaterNot NecessaryYes
Bubbler/Air StoneYesNot Necessary

Neon Tetra: Ideal Conditions

Neon tetras are not challenging to maintain. They can withstand the same conditions you find in many freshwater aquariums.

The species requires slow-moving water and soft lighting. Plants and decorations will put them at ease.

Proper filtration is crucial. But they are not messy creatures. A sponge filter can keep their water clean. Maintain stability. Don’t allow the parameters to fluctuate wildly.

Goldfish: Ideal Conditions

If you exclude the temperature, goldfish have similar requirements to neon tetras. They can thrive in the same aquatic environment.

Unfortunately, goldfish are messy. Because they have insatiable appetites, the creatures produce a lot of waste. 

This compels aquarists, and particularly newcomers, to perform large and frequent water changes, creating instabilities in the tank’s chemistry that antagonize the neon tetras. 

Remember that neon tetras are sensitive to changes in their habitat. This issue is most prominent among the larger goldfish species.

You can reduce the size and frequency of the water changes by adding a strong filtration system that compensates for all the leftovers and waste a goldfish adds to the aquarium.

Some people use strong filters to increase the water flow because they understand that goldfish need high oxygen levels.

But neon tetras prefer slow-moving water. Lower the water flow and insert bubblers to improve the oxygen content.

The Dietary Requirements Of Neon Tetras And Goldfish

FoodGoldfishNeon TetraQuantitySchedule
Pellets and FlakesYesYesSmall Pinch7 Days
Tubifex WormsYesYesSmall Pinch or Less2-3 Times Weekly
BloodwormsYesYesSmall Pinch or Less2-3 Times Weekly
Brine ShrimpYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
VegetablesYesYesSmall PinchTwice Daily
DaphniaYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
Mysis ShrimpYesYesSmall Pinch1 – 2 Times Weekly
MaggotsYesYesFish can eat their weight in maggots2- 3 Times Weekly

Neon Tetras: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Neon tetras are omnivores, which means they will eat anything you add to the tank.

Although it takes a balanced diet constituting animal and plant matter to keep them healthy and happy. They will eat once or twice a day.

Goldfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

This is another area that attracts concern. Goldfish are omnivores. They eat animal and plant matter, just like neon tetras.

However, they have a reputation for eating small fish and their eggs. They can also feed on live plants, which encourages consumers to add artificial foliage. 

While they can survive on high-quality flakes and pellets, you should supplement their diet with brine shrimp, daphnia, vegetables, and the like. They can survive on one meal per day.

Ideal Tank Size For Keeping Neon Tetras And Goldfish Together

Neon tetras and goldfish are a poor match because goldfish are so much larger. You can keep young goldfish in a neon tetra aquarium.

But eventually, the goldfish will outgrow the tank. You need at least 20 gallons for large goldfish, such as shubunkins. 

And if you intend to raise a school of goldfish alongside a school of neon tetras, the tank size will increase. Aim for 55 gallons or more.

Best Tankmates For Neon Tetras And Goldfish

If you own a 55-gallon tank and wish to give goldfish and neon tetras a try, you can also experiment with species like:

  • Guppies
  • Giant Danios
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Loaches
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Ghost Shrimp

However, avoid aggressive species at all costs:

  • Tiger Barb
  • Red-tailed Shark
  • Green Terror Cichlid
  • Jack Dempsey
  • Blood Parrot Cichlid
  • African Clawed Frog
  • Gourami

Also Read: Can Neon Tetras And Gourami Fish Live Together?


Let’s quickly summarize what I discussed earlier:

  • Goldfish and neon tetras should not be kept together in the same tank due to differences in size, temperature requirements, and feeding habits.
  • Keeping them in separate tanks is the best option to ensure the well-being of both species.
  • Attempting to create a tank that accommodates both goldfish and neon tetras may result in the loss of one or both species, as they have different water condition preferences.
  • Neon tetras are tropical creatures that prefer warmer water, while goldfish thrive in cooler conditions, further making them incompatible tank mates.
  • Despite their similar temperaments, neon tetras and goldfish are better off with tank mates that are more suitable for their specific needs, rather than being kept together.