Can Neon Tetras Live with Goldfish?

Neon Tetra

For different reasons, many hobbyists enjoy keeping different species of fish in the same tank. It can be a fantastic thing to do if you know the right fish species to keep together, but if you don’t, you might end up regretting it. In this post, I will concentrate on goldfish and neon tetras, so that you will learn everything you need to know about putting them together.

Can neon tetras live with goldfish? No, I don’t advise you to put them together, because they thrive in different temperatures, in different environments, and goldfish can quickly grow big enough to eat up your neon tetras. This clearly isn’t suitable for either the neon tetras or the goldfish. And also it’s probably not suitable for you, the hobbyist, I guess!

While there are many fish species that CAN be put together, goldfish and neon tetras are not the best partners. This is because of their differing natures (as you are about to find out). However, this article will tell you which fishes you can put together with these two, with no problems at all.

The Nature of Goldfish

Goldfish are one of the most popular pet fish available in pet stores. They are also fantastic for your tank, not only because of their beautiful color but because they are easy to keep compared to many other species of fish.

Goldfish grow big very quickly. They are not suitable for fish bowls because even the smallest goldfish available can grow to 4-7 inches. Some adult goldfish can reach up to 18 inches, and weigh up to 10 pounds.

Goldfish Aquarium

Although there are many different factors that have been found to affect the growth of a goldfish, including diet, tank health, etc., the size of the tank has also been found to have an impact on how a goldfish develops.

Depending on these factors and the type of goldfish, you could find one as long as 2 feet, and one as short as inches. Whether big, or not so big, one definite fact about goldfish is that their rate of growth is always rapid.

Goldfish are omnivores, which means they can eat both flesh and vegetables. They enjoy eating frogs, insect larvae, newts, fish eggs, vegetation, and other small fish.

Although the common varieties of goldfish will do very well eating pellet fish food and vegetables, there are some that need some live foods in their diet to keep them away from developing intestinal problems. 

The claim that goldfish don’t live very long is only a myth as they are a pet with one of the longest lifespans. The oldest living goldfish was recorded as being 49 years of age! If you keep them in good conditions, there is a high probability of them living for a long time. Despite knowing their potential for growth, some people still keep goldfish in bowls.

Goldfish which are kept in bowls have been found to have the shortest lifespan—living up to only five years. If you have an indoor aquarium for your goldfish, it could live as long as 10 years, and if you have an outdoor pond, they can live at least 20 years, if the water is healthy. They are rather messy though and can easily contaminate the water. Compared to some species of fish, they prefer a cooler temperature of about 23–24°C.

The Nature of Neon Tetra

The neon tetra is very popular among fish keepers because it is simply beautiful. It has stunning colors—red, blue, and also partially translucent.

Neon Tetras

Generally, the neon tetra is a small fish, having an average size of just 1.5 inches, although the longer ones could be up to 2.5 inches. Their translucence isn’t just for to make them pretty—sometimes, it helps them hide away from their predators.

Hobbyists enjoy keeping them because, as well as being beautiful, they are peaceful and very gentle. They are also not difficult to get hold of. They don’t enjoy being alone, and therefore you would be treating them better if you put them in a school with about 15 members.

The more the members, the happier they will be, and it’s a win-win for everyone, because the more of them you have, the more beautiful your aquarium will be.

Tetras are very sensitive to changes in water conditions. It means they are not the best fish to put in a newly cycled tank; they will do much better in an established one. It is not advisable to keep them with fish that enjoy messing up the water. They enjoy warmer water when compared to some fishes.

Their ideal water temperature is between 28-30°C. If kept indoors, they can live up to 5 years, but when kept in a healthy outdoor pond, their life span increases to about 8 years. Since they don’t grow so big, they enjoy being tank mates to fish of the same size.

Why are they not compatible?

When deciding on the compatibility of fish species, different factors are to be considered. In the case of neon tetras and goldfish, amidst other factors the most important ones are the size of the two fishes and their differing temperature and water condition requirements.

However, the biggest issue is with the nature of goldfish—and this is what makes it wrong to keep it with smaller fishes. Goldfish, like other big omnivorous fish species, often eat up whatever things they find in the water that are edible and small enough!

This means when they are still very small, it should be OK to put goldfish and neon tetras in the same tank. However, you must quickly separate them as the goldfish start to grow (and as we know, they grow very quickly!).

They grow really quickly, and before you know it, they will have become big enough to swallow up some neon tetras, especially if you have extremely small tetras.

It is not only about size. It is also obvious that the goldfish prefer a cooler water temperature than the neon tetras. You can’t overestimate the importance of keeping your fish at the right temperature. It has an impact on everything really—their health, growth, activity levels, etc.

Also, neon tetras love to be in a school. Although they hate to be isolated, they hate it even more when they are put in a tank with some fish that would be a threat.

Neon tetras are very peaceful and easygoing. When they are in the same water as bigger fish, they are less active, conscious they might be eaten up. This naturally reduces their general levels of activity, which has a big impact on their health.

Neon tetras are very sensitive to changes in water conditions. When keeping them, although they are not very demanding, hobbyists must put in extra effort to ensure their tank is neat and clean. This is almost impossible when you put them together with goldfish. Goldfish are very messy, and neon tetras really don’t do very well in dirty water.

What if you’ve not got two tanks now?

If you have tetras and small goldfish, you can put them together for the first four months. The goldfish is the threat here, and at four months old, they shouldn’t be big enough to make too much mess.

Also, they cannot eat their partners, the neon tetras, as early as that. But as they get near six months, they may start displaying all the threatening attributes that we have outlined above. Generally, the best place to keep goldfish is in ponds, outdoors, or in very big tanks.

Neon tetras can be kept together in a school, in a small tank. So, if you are adding some goldfish, simply consider the goldfish to be strangers, and plan to remove them, and not the tetras.

This is for two reasons: one, goldfish may have their growth affected by a small tank, and two, neon tetras are sensitive to changes. They shouldn’t be moved too frequently.

Related Questions

Do tetras get along with goldfish?

Yes, tetras may get along with goldfish, just as they would with some other fish species, but the goldfish can make the water too dirty for them, and big goldfish eat tetras up too. So, while tetras get along with goldfish, goldfish don’t get along with tetras, it’s that simple!

What kind of fish can live with goldfish?

Only fish species that can survive in the same water conditions and will not be eaten up by goldfish can be their tank mates. They include other goldfish, weather or dojo loaches, rosy barbs, rubbernose and bristlenose plecos, etc. Just be sure they are fish that can get equally big, and can survive in the dirty water.

What fish are neon tetras compatible with?

Neon tetras will only enjoy having tank mates that are equally small, peaceful, and that will not make everywhere messy. A few examples of suitable tank mates include guppies, african dwarf frogs, angelfish, apple snails, cardinal tetras, corydoras catfish, ghost shrimp, etc.

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

2 thoughts on “Can Neon Tetras Live with Goldfish?

    1. Hey Les, If the Angelfish are large, it will try to eat the smaller fish. Its not recommended!
      If you want to keep them in same tank, try Providing more hiding spots and keep your Angelfish well fed.

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