Can Algae Eaters Live With Goldfish?

Can Algae Eaters keep a Goldfish tank clean?

Can Algae Eaters Live With Goldfish?7 mins read

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Tal Halperin
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Can algae eaters live with goldfish?
Image from Flickr

Are you wondering ‘can algae eaters live with goldfish’? Goldfish are part of the Carp family and are notoriously messy and big eaters. Therefore, you may want to keep some algae eaters that can live with goldfish, to help clean the tank.

Goldfish are popular fish produce tons of waste. This adds up to a raised level of ammonia and nitrates in the water, which helps algae bloom. Therefore many aquarists want to keep algae eaters with goldfish in their tank.

There are several algae eaters that can live with goldfish, so the answer to this question is more complex than a straight yes or no. Read on to find out what conditions you need for a tank where both Algae Eaters and Goldfish can thrive.

Can Algae Eaters Live With Goldfish?

So, in setting up either a Goldfish or algae eater tank and looking for some tankmates, you may find yourself wondering ’can algae eaters live with goldfish?’

As stated above, this question is more complex than a straight yes or no. In summary, there are certain algae eaters that can live with goldfish if the conditions are correct. However, you must take measures to prevent aggression and territorial disputes.

So, if you want some more unusual Goldfish tankmates, read on. This will help you to find out how your preferred Algae Eaters and Goldfish can coexist.

Factors That Affect Whether Algae Eaters Can Live With Goldfish

1. Aggression

Most Algae Eaters and most Goldfish are very peaceful fish. Therefore, aggression is not generally a problem but can develop if tank conditions are wrong.

Goldfish like to hang out mid-water but will often scavenge on the bottom for food. However, algae eaters that can live with goldfish may want to defend the tank bottom as territory. To prevent territorial conflict, you can feed your fish different foods at different times and ensure a variety of habitats in your tank.

2. Temperature

By far, one of the biggest other factors in whether Algae Eaters and Goldfish can live together is tank temperature. Many of the most popular Algae Eaters come from the tropical waters of South America or Southeast Asia. Goldfish, on the other hand, come from the cooler waters of China. There, they began as ornamental Carp that were bred in the outdoor ponds of Buddhist monasteries.

Author’s Note: Certain Algae Eaters can tolerate cooler temperatures, including the Bristlenose Pleco, Rubber Lip Pleco, certain Cory Catfish, and all kinds of snails and shrimps.

3. Tank Size

Tank size is without a doubt one of the most important ways of preventing aggression. Most Goldfish species need a tank of at least 30 gallons or 114 liters to thrive. Meanwhile, most algae eaters that can live with goldfish will need a tank of slightly less, of around 35 gallons or 160 liters.

Factor in the idea that you will be keeping both fish, and potentially a group of Goldfish, too. Then, you will find that a tank of at least 50 gallons (227 liters) is ideal.

What Are Some Algae Eaters That Can Live With Goldfish?

As explained above, there is no one factor to consider when asking ‘can algae eaters live with goldfish?’ Apart from aggression, temperature is a major factor. This can really determine whether you can add Algae Eaters to a Goldfish tank!

The following are all nonaggressive algae eaters that can live with goldfish. They can also thrive in cooler temperatures of under 73 F or 23 C. This makes them perfect for keeping with fancy Goldfish that prefer slightly warmer water anyway.

1. Garra Or Doctor Fish

Garra Or Doctor Fish
Doctor Fish are one of the best lesser-known Algae Eaters for any aquarium with cooler water temperatures.

These little fish are one of the best lesser-known Algae Eaters for any aquarium with cooler water temperatures. Hailing from the Middle East, they can tolerate the upper range of the Goldfish temperate range just fine. Furthermore, they are mesmerizing to watch. Garra Fish are also Cyprinids or part of the Carp family.

They quickly and easily gobble up all algae. However, you should remember they still need food every so often! Otherwise, you can’t ensure they are getting adequate nutrition.

Temperature60-75 F or 16-24 C
SizeUp to 6”/15 cm
LifespanUp to 12 years
FeedingOmnivorous, enjoys tropical fish pellets or flakes enriched with free swimming live protein

2. Snails And Shrimps

Snails And Shrimps
There are many types of snails that can work with Goldfish, including mystery snails, ramshorn snails, and Malaysian trumpet snails.

If you’re looking for an invertebrate, algae-eating companion for your Goldfish, look no further. Many types of snails can work as algae eaters with goldfish in the tank. These include mystery snails, ramshorn snails, and Malaysian trumpet snails.

Just like snails, shrimps make great invertebrate tankmates. Cherry shrimps and ghost shrimps are some of the most popular, too. They also grow large enough that they won’t end up as Goldfish food.

Author’s Note: What’s good about all these species are big and hardy enough that they won’t be bothered either by the pollutants your Goldfish produce or by the fish themselves.

3. Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco
There are many Pleco Fish to choose from if you want a tropical tank, but Bristlenose Pleco is one of the most suitable for a Goldfish tank temperature-wise. Image From Flickr

The Bristlenose Pleco is a peaceful South American bottom dweller that can grow up to 7 inches long. There are many Pleco Fish to choose from if you want a tropical tank. However, this one is one of the most suitable algae eaters that can live with goldfish in terms of temperature.

The Bristlenose Pleco has a sucker mouth with which it can cling to not only the sides of the glass tank but also decorations such as driftwood.

It’s a good idea not to use gravel with these fish because it hurts their delicate stomachs. Instead, you can use sand or smooth, large pebbles, both of which are good for Goldfish too.

Temperature72-78 F or 22-26 C
SizeUp to 7 inches or 18 cm
Lifespan10-15 years
FeedingAlgae wafers supplemented with live food and fresh vegetables 2-3 times per week. They cannot live off tank algae alone

4. Rubber lip Pleco

Rubber lip Pleco
The Rubber Lip Pleco has very similar care needs to the Bristlenose Pleco but they lack the multitude of bristles on their nose for starters and have a slightly differently shaped body. Image From Flickr

The Rubber Lip Pleco has very similar care needs to the Bristlenose Pleco. On the other hand, they lack the multitude of bristles on their nose for starters. They also have a slightly differently shaped body.

Nevertheless, in a large enough tank, the two can co-exist not just with each other but with Goldfish too. In fact, keeping these algae eaters with goldfish is a fantastic alternative option if you want a less common fish.

Temperature72-78 F or 22-26 C
SizeUp to 7 inches or 18 cm
Lifespan10-15 years
FeedingAlgae wafers supplemented with live food and fresh vegetables 2-3 times per week. They cannot live off tank algae alone

5. Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish are hardy, good at coping with fluctuations, and they make great, peaceful tankmates. Image from Flickr

Cory Catfish is a broad genus of bottom-dwelling fish that come from mildly acidic, softwater environments across Central and South America. They are hardy, good at coping with fluctuations, and they make great, peaceful tankmates.

Like the Pleco, they can’t live on algae alone. Nevertheless, they’re great at keeping your tank clean. This is especially if you have gravel, which can often collect bits of old, uneaten food and detritus. They’re also happy at cooler temperatures, making them one of the best algae eaters that can live with goldfish. In fact, hot temperatures can even be detrimental, causing them to breathe air from lack of oxygen.

Temperature72-78 F or 22-26 C
Sizeup to 4” or 8 cm
Lifespan4-6 years
FeedingAlgae wafers and sinking pellets enriched with vegetables

How To Set Up A Community Aquarium Of Algae Eaters And Goldfish

How to set up a community aquarium of algae eaters and goldfish
The ideal temperature for both Algae Eaters and Goldfish to coexist is around 70 to 73 F (21-23 C).

It’s not hard to set up a community tank for both of these fish. Even though sometimes they need different conditions, there is a lot of overlap. Thus, keeping algae eaters with goldfish is all about striking a balance.

1. Ensure Your Environment Is Correct

Temperature

The ideal temperature for both Algae Eaters and Goldfish to coexist is around 70 to 73 F (21-23 C). Any lower, and your Algae Eaters may suddenly find they don’t have enough energy. Higher, and your Algae Eaters may thrive, but it may be too much for your Goldfish. Thus, keeping a tank with both is a fine balance.

Substrate

Goldfish love to pick up gravel. However, are you planning on keeping bottom-feeding Algae Eaters like Plecos and Cory Catfish in the tank with them?

Here, you can opt for sand or smooth, large pebbles instead. Gravel is too rough on the delicate stomachs of the majority of algae eaters that can live with goldfish. They can sometimes injure themselves as they move along the bottom of the tank.

Plants

Goldfish are voracious eaters who like to nibble at plants. However, including fast-growing plants in drifts in your tank provides plenty of options for your Algae Eaters to hide in.

This is important as these shy fish do not like to feel exposed or out in the open. In the wild, this would make them vulnerable to predators. In addition, plants help filter nitrates and ammonia.

Filtration

Despite the fact that Algae Eaters keep the tank clean, you can’t have a Goldfish tank without filtration. You may hear stories of self-cleaning tanks that have enough plants to create an ecosystem. Yet, in reality, an ideal environment for both Hardy Goldfish like the Comet, and Fancy Goldfish like the Fantail has more than plants. It will also have a filter, and some Algae Eaters, too. All of these things help benefit the water quality. This is the biggest factor in ensuring that when keeping algae eaters with goldfish, all fish stay healthy!

Author’s Note: Goldfish are messy, but they are not always strong swimmers and neither are Algae Eaters, Thus the best option is a hang-on back or sponge filter that filters a flow rate of 4x tank capacity per hour. Combined with plants and Algae Eaters, you will soon have crystal-clear water quality for all your fish.

2. Choose The Right Fish

Now your tank is set up correctly, ensure you’ve chosen suitable fish! In addition, bear in mind what variety of Goldfish you have. Fancy Goldfish like the Ranchu, Bubble-Eye, and Telescopic Goldfish tolerate slightly warmer conditions as they were bred indoors in their native habitat in China.

3. Acclimatize The Fish Correctly

Many aquarists recommend adding your Algae Eaters after you add your Goldfish. However, both these species are relatively peaceful. Either way, when you bring your fish home in a plastic bag you will have to acclimatize them to the new water.

  • Float the bag in your new tank to equalize the water temperatures. If you do this for about an hour, you will find the water inside the bag has become the same as the tank water.
  • Open the bag that has your Goldfish in it. This allows the tank water to slowly fill the bag and your Goldfish to swim out of its own accord. This is less stressful to the fish. It’s the best way to ensure they don’t develop health issues from the stress of moving to a new tank.
  • Watch as your Goldfish swim out on their own to explore the new tank, and then remove the plastic bag.

Common Issues To Look Out For When Keeping Algae Eaters With Goldfish

Common issues to look out for when keeping algae eaters with goldfish
Aggression can be a sign of many things, for example, common breeding behaviors can sometimes look like aggression. Image From Flickr

Maintaining a successful tank that co-houses algae eaters with goldfish is not hard. However, there are a few issues you should look out for. These are generally as follows:

1. Aggression And Conflict

Aggression can be a sign of many things. For example, common breeding behaviors can sometimes look like aggression. Often, the question ‘can algae eaters live with goldfish?’ addresses tank parameters, but not aggression.

However, aggression is rare in both goldfish and many algae eaters. Thus, it will normally indicate that water quality is poor. So, your fish feel stressed. It may also indicate your fish are territorial and don’t have enough room.

If this is the case, you may have to consider upgrading to a bigger tank. Most algae eaters that can live with goldfish will grow considerably. Don’t be fooled by the myth that fish grow to the size of their tank.

2. Water Pollution

Water pollution can manifest as cloudy water, abnormal growth of algae up the tank walls, and fish acting abnormally, such as showing signs of lethargy.

This is the first sign your fish may be sick from water conditions and it’s important you change the water immediately, even if you have Algae Eaters. Remember, Algae Eaters eat algae but they are not a substitute for a filter.

Author’s Note: If you notice too much algae and it looks like your algae-eating fish can’t handle it, you can scrape it off with a specialist algae scraper.

3. Overfeeding

Overfeeding can manifest as cloudy water or your fish developing digestive issues. Watch out for fish that look bloated or are having trouble swimming. Also, ensure that you remove all uneaten food after five minutes of feeding your fish.

4. Temperature Imbalance

One reason fish can get sick is if the temperature climbs too high or drops too low. When people ask ‘can algae eaters live with goldfish?’ they are often concerned about the temperature. Maintaining the right temperature for both Algae Eaters and Goldfish is easy, however, with a tank thermometer.

If you see fish acting lethargic and you are sure it is not diseased, it may be the water temperature is too low. A temperature that is too high, on the other hand, can make your Goldfish less able to withstand stress.

5. Diseases

Many common fish diseases arise from dirty water. This is another reason it’s important to use a filter. Remember, Algae Eaters don’t clean up ammonia and nitrites!

Goldfish and algae-eating fish are both susceptible to many of the common diseases of freshwater fish. This includes bacterial and fungal infections. Goldfish like slow-moving water, so don’t get a filter that is too strong – opt instead for a gentle sponge filter.

Final Thoughts

Algae eaters live with goldfish
In general, Algae Eaters can live around the same length as a well-cared-for Goldfish, with both species averaging about 10-15 years in total. Image From Flickr

So there you have it – the short answer to the question ‘can algae eaters live with goldfish’ is that yes, certain ones can, provided you get the conditions right. Hopefully, this guide has shown you how to ensure you create a peaceful community tank where both species can thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Plecos live with Goldfish?
The short answer is in general, Pleco water temperatures are a bit too high for Goldfish. This is because Plecos come from the tropical Amazon basin, whereas Goldfish come from the cooler climates of China, where they were originally bred. That being said, some Pleco species are hardier than others and the Bristlenose Pleco and Rubber Lip Pleco are both ideal Goldfish companions as outlined earlier in this article.
Can Algae Eaters keep a Goldfish tank clean?
Goldfish are messy fish that produce a lot of waste, so it’s imperative to include filtration in their tanks. Algae eaters alone, unfortunately, cannot keep a Goldfish tank clean enough to provide the high-quality conditions all your fish deserve.
How long do Algae Eaters live compared to Goldfish?
In general, Algae Eaters can live around the same length as a well-cared-for Goldfish, with both species averaging about 10-15 years in total. However, Goldfish are surprising creatures and can live up to over 20 years if kept well. The majority of Plecos live up to about 15 years, so it is a close call, although some algae-eating invertebrates will live a lot less. In general, fish lifespan is variable, and depends on the conditions in which they are kept.
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Sydney Perry

Sydney Perry has loved fish since she was a child and has enjoyed keeping many varieties over the years, ranging from black moors and shubunkins to betta fish. As a lover of nature and of Japanese culture, her dream tank is an Iwagumi aquascape, combining fish with carefully crafted aquatic landscapes in miniature.