can neon tetras live with goldfish - featured image

Can Neon Tetras Live With Goldfish?

Can Neon Tetras live with Goldfish? The quick answer is no. It’s not recommended to keep these two types of fish in the same tank, as it isn’t optimal for their overall health – they require different tank conditions.

In this article, we will go in depth on the right living conditions for both neon tetras and goldfish, and why the two are best kept separate.

Why Can't Neon Tetras Live With Goldfish?

1. Tetras Need A Warmer Environment

Neon tetras are a tropical species of fish, so their optimal living conditions are an environment that is warm year round. They do not have the ability to tolerate cooler temperatures very well, and should not be kept in an environment that is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this they are not able to live in tanks with goldfish because the environments they live in can be very cold depending on where you live.

Alternatively, goldfish actually require a much cooler environment, with the optimum temperature for goldfish being between 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This is due to the fact that goldfish are a species that reside in cold water constantly and evolved over time to be able to live comfortably in these cooler temperatures.

2. Tetras Need More Space

The tetra is a moderately active species of fish, which requires more space than goldfish. Tetras are quite large when compared to goldfish, and the extra space is required to allow them to do their normal activities. Of course, they can be kept in smaller tanks as well, but it is still recommended that at least a 20 gallon tank is used.

Goldfish on the other hand are more sedentary fish which don’t need even nearly such amount of space. Goldfish should only be kept in tanks no greater than 10 gallons or less than a 5 gallon tank.

3. Neon Tetras Can Pass Diseases To Goldfish

It should be noted that not all fish illnesses are caused by bacteria or parasites. In the case of neon tetras and goldfish, the two species are actually different enough that they can pass diseases to one another. For example, many goldfish suffer from a disease called whirling disease that is passed on from neon tetras. This is because these two species have different immune systems that are unable to combat this particular illness. Additionally, neon tetras can pass diseases to goldfish like the fungus called Ich, which is a type of parasite that is common in neon tetra tanks.

Other diseases, like fin rot and the dreaded ichthyophthirius canis disease can be passed to goldfish as well. Additionally, not all neon tetra diseases are the same. It should be noted that some of the diseases that goldfish can contract from neon tetras can easily be treated or prevented with a simple medication. These antibiotics are also readily available at your local pet store.

4. Both Fish Have Different Social Habits

Because of the different hormone systems and behavioral traits of each fish, it can be difficult for these two fish to interact with one another. Even when they are kept together, their social styles will sometimes be very different. This is due to differing breeding habits between the two species. Neon tetras are a schooling species and prefer other neon tetras in their tank for company.

Goldfish on the other hand prefer single companionship, which makes them difficult to keep with other goldfish or tank mates. Because of this difference in social habits, it’s not recommended to keep goldfish with neon tetras.

5. Goldfish Can Eat Neon Tetras

Because of their size, goldfish can actually consume neon tetras. If the goldfish are big enough and the tank has little to no space for the neon tetras to hide in, it is possible for a goldfish to eat any neon tetras that it comes across. This is not a normal occurrence though, but is something you should be aware of when trying to make this living arrangement work.

goldfish against blurred dark background
A Large Goldfish could eat your Neon Tetras!

6. Goldfish Need Frequent Tank Cleaning, but Neon Tetras Are Sensitive To Water Changes

Because of the differences in their dietary requirements, it’s likely that goldfish would need a bit more water changing than neon tetras. Because of this it is important to keep the goldfish well fed and able to eat consistently. This will ensure that they can stay healthy and remain clean while also providing enough food for the feeding process.

Neon tetras on the other hand, can be very delicate when it comes to water changes actually. These fish are very sensitive to new water, and so changing the water too much can endanger their health. Although they are not as messy with their tank, they still tend to hold on to the dirty water which can become a problem.

Optimal Tank Environments For Neon Tetras

As mentioned above, the all neon tetra tank needs to be kept above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and they are best suited to be in a tank that is at least 20 gallons. Because of the warm water requirement for these fish, it is important that you keep the environment very clean. Neon tetras love to swim about, and so it is a good idea to have a good filter on hand that has efficient filtration.

The tank should also be kept clean and free of any debris. The habitat of the fish consists of plants, driftwood, rocks, etc. that they can use for security and shelter.

(For more info check out our article – How To Care For Neon Tetras)

Optimal Tank Environments For Goldfish

The temperature for a goldfish tank should remain at approximately 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The tank should be kept relatively clean and well fed, with a good filter in place. A combination of live plants and artificial plants can make for a nice environment to keep your goldfish tank in.

Goldfish are bottom feeders, so they will eat the left overs from the water above them and also eat any food that is left behind from another fish. Their tank should also be relatively small, as keeping too many goldfish in one tank will cause stress.

What Fish Can Live With Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras are solitary and territorial fish, so it is difficult to find a tank that will work for more than one fish. Because of this they are best suited to groups of 2 or 3. Because of their social personality they also don’t do well in mixed-species tanks, because they are so territorial. That being said, there are some types of fish that can still do well with them. These include:

1. Angelfish

Angelfish are generally small gentle fish that work well with neon tetras. They are not as active as the tetras, so they won’t bother the tetra’s territory too much. However adult angelfish can eat baby tetras, so you should keep that in mind when considering other types of fish to add to your tank.

An Angelfish

2. Guppies

Guppies also are small, and they are very active in their movements. They don’t tend to get aggressive, and they love to swim around the tank together, so that is great for the tetras. They also tend to be pretty easy to care for, so they make for great additions.

a shoal of guppies

3. Mollies

Mollies are live-bearers, which means that they only give birth to live fish. This makes them very hardy and easy going fish, since they have a much smaller concern over raising their young than the average fish that bears eggs does. They are also fairly small, although some variations get a little larger than the tetras themselves. They tend to be even tempered, so you don’t have to worry about fighting or predatory behavior.

orange and black molly against white background
A Molly

4. White Cloud Minnows

These are super small, and they are one of the most peaceful minnow varieties that you can get. They are not only hardy and easy to care for, they also love to swim together in the tank. They also have a very nice personality and because they also resemble guppies, they will fit easily into a community tank.

White Cloud Minnow against green blurred background
A White Cloud Minnow

5. Ghost Shrimp

These are some of the smallest shrimp on the market, and they only grow to about an inch or so in length. They are generally very active and hardy, although they have a tendency to grow a little larger than other more common shrimp varieties. Because of their size, they usually just leave neon tetras alone.

ghost shrimp against blurred background
A Ghost Shrimp

6. Apple Snails

Apple snails are one of the most commonly available snails, and they do a fairly good job of keeping algae down. They will also help to keep the water clean by eating leftovers that have fallen into the substrate. Apple snails can be half a foot or more long, so make sure they are only in tanks that can handle their size. Apple snails will eat most any plant matter if it is offered to them, so the plants may need to be rearranged occasionally for their health.

They get along fairly well with all types of fish, and they tend to be a little slower than neon tetras, so they won’t be too much of a threat.

yellow apple snail on green moss
An Apple Snail

7. Harlequin Rasboras

These are very small as well, and can easily be kept in groups of 10 or so. They are very active fish, but they have a tendency to get along with the tetras. They will swim around together as long as there is enough room. Small groups of 10 or so can be kept together.

four harlequin rasboras
Harlequin Rasboras

8. Corydoras

These are small catfish that rarely get very large at all. They are a little more aggressive than the other fish listed here, but they tend to get along with most. They are fairly active fish and are not as territorial as other types of fish on this list.

three corydoras on light gravel

9. Loaches

Loaches are a little more prone to aggression, but the Neons will still get along with most of them. They look a little bit like minnows when they are small, but they do grow larger. They do tend to be more aggressive as adults and so only one should be kept in each tank.

clown loach close up
A Clown Loach

(For more information on suitable tank mates for neon tetras read this article – Best Tank Mates for Neon Tetras)

Are Neon Tetras Hard To Keep?

Neon tetras are a bit more work to keep than some other fish because of their delicate nature. Their tank should be kept relatively clean, and they require feeding at least once per day. On top of that, they hold onto old food in the tank, which can cause waste to build up in the water. However, these fish enjoy being fed live foods like mosquito larvae and blood worms as well as freeze dried blood worms.

They are not difficult to care for, but they do require more attention than other fish. As seen above, they also have unique temperature and tank size requirements, which can make it difficult to care for them and other types of fish simultaneously. However, they are one of the most beautiful and unique fish that you can keep. If you are looking for a fish that is the perfect addition to your tank, consider neon tetras. They are sure to make your tank stand out from other tanks!

Can Neon Tetras Live With Goldfish? - Final Thoughts

Neon tetras are truly one of the most beautiful fish on the market. Their vibrant colors and unique shape will make them stand out on any tank. One drawback however is that they can’t be housed with other types of fish, especially goldfish. You’ll need to keep neon tetras and goldfish in separate tanks, which is something to keep in mind when buying your tank.

Goldfish are even easier to take care of, but they can cause some problems for your neon tetras. If you keep your goldfish separate, they can live long healthy lives with little conflict. The two types of fish have been seen to contract certain diseases between one another, but it’s much more likely for goldfish to harm neon tetras than the other way around.