Neon tetras are beautiful fish and popular due to their vibrant colors. So fish owners usually want their tetras to have friends to live with, especially Goldfish.
Can Neon tetras live with goldfish? Neon tetras cannot live with Goldfish because of the following reasons:
- Tetras thrive in a warm environment while Goldfish like a cooler aquarium. Tetras thrive at 28-30 degrees celsius, and Goldfish do best at 23-24 degrees celsius.
- Goldfish can eat neon tetras.
- Goldfish produce a great deal of waste and require frequent tank maintenance, while tetras are sensitive to water changes and do best in an established tank.
- Neon Tetras can pass on diseases to goldfish.
- Both have different social habits.
As you can see, Neon tetras and goldfish are vastly different. There is, however, a tiny window of opportunity where both fishes could live together, but we still advise against it to save yourself from any headaches.
Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of the 5 reasons why Goldfish and Neon tetras cannot live together…
Reason 1: Neon Tetras, Goldfish, And The Water Temperature
Putting tetras and goldfish in the same tank is like the show “The Odd Couple” because they just don’t have anything in common.
- Tetras like it warm (28-30C).
- Goldfish like it cool (23-24C).
- Tetras produce very little waste and are sensitive to water changes.
- Goldfish produce large amounts of waste and need a lot of tank maintenance.
The water temperature requirements alone are enough of a reason to keep tetras and goldfish apart.
The water temperature is a significant part of having a healthy aquarium environment full of healthy fish.
Being a tropical fish, tetras like it warmer. Goldfish are not tropical fish and prefer cooler environments.
Goldfish tend to grow quickly, and warmer water temperature can actually speed up their growth process.
Goldfish can also grow to be fairly large, even up to a foot long.
Goldfish can outgrow your tank and will require being moved to a larger tank.
As your goldfish are growing like the “Stay Puft Marshmallow” man from “Ghostbusters,” your tetras will start to become aware of the danger of being eaten, and they will spend all of their time trying to hide and stay out of the way.
This isn’t healthy for your tetras because they will like being active.
This is also unhealthy for your tetras because they are social fish. Tetras are friendly and can get along with most fish.
They especially love being in schools of 10-15 other tetras.
Recommended Further Reading:
- 6 Common Goldfish Tank Mates + (How And Why To Choose Them)
- How To Take Care Of A Goldfish? (Goldfish Care In 3 Simple Steps)
Reason 2: Goldfish Eats Anything, Including Tetras
Goldfish are omnivores, meaning they may have a propensity to eat other fish.
But this doesn’t mean that goldfish are bad. Goldfish are beautiful and are wonderful fish to own and enjoy.
Goldfish are not what you’d consider being a mean or an aggressive fish, but as they grow large enough for a tetra to fit into their mouth, they may try to eat it.
Driven by their appetite, and just their nature, they may see your tetra as a snack and nothing more.
Few aquarium owners have also shared that even in the best of the environments where they have offered plenty of food, including live plants for nibbling, their goldfish have eaten a tetra or two.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Do Goldfish Eat Each Other? And How To Keep Them Together?
- Do Goldfish Eat Minnows? (And How To Protect Minnows)
- Can Guppies Live With Goldfish? (Yes and No, Here’s Why?)
- Can Goldfish Live In Well Water? (Yes and No, Here’s Why)
The Small Window Where They Can Live Together
If you start out with homing both small goldfish and tetras in the same tank, you have a small window of time for them to cohabitate safely.
However, you will need to plan ahead and know that the goldfish will need to be shifted to a separate tank before they grow large enough for one of your tetras.
Reason 3: Messy Environment vs. Neat Environment
Every aquarium owner wants a beautiful aquarium full of happy and healthy fish, preferably with minimal upkeep as possible.
One of the main reasons that tetras and goldfish are not compatible tank mates is because they like different environments.
Goldfish create a messy environment just by doing what comes naturally to them.
As stated earlier, goldfish eat a lot and therefore produce a lot of waste.
This is one obvious way that they make a messy environment. Goldfish also root around a lot looking for food.
They like to swim around nibbling on things and inquisitively investigate their surroundings.
While rooting around, they can move the tank rocks, uproot plants, and send your tank decorations floating all over the aquarium.
Tank maintenance will need to be performed frequently to maintain a clean and healthy tank for a goldfish.
This will mean more work for you.
Tetras, on the other hand, are too small to upset any of your tank décors. Tetras eat very little and produce minimal waste.
They require a stable environment because they cannot tolerate drastic or frequent water changes.
Frequent water changes can stress your tetras. Unlike goldfish, with tetras, the tank environment will be more stable and will not require as much maintenance.
This means less work for you!
Reason 4: Goldfish Aren’t Tropical Fish
Tetras are a tropical fish, while goldfish are not.
To provide what tetras need for being tropical, you cannot provide what goldfish would need to thrive.
We mentioned earlier that the water temperature requirements for goldfish are a lot cooler than what a tetra prefers.
There are other differences that should caution you not to home a tropical fish with a non-tropical fish, like…
Goldfish May Get Sick in Warmer Waters
Disease resistance is one of these differences.
Goldfish are more susceptible to diseases in warmer water temperatures.
Tropical fish, being a different species, can carry diseases that are harmful to goldfish.
Goldfish May Acquire Diseases From Tetras
Tetras can pass diseases to your goldfish for which they have no resistance.
So your tetra could be happy and healthy, but all the while passing on the diseases to your goldfish.
Another difference to consider would be their diet.
Goldfish Diet Is Different
Goldfish cannot digest food not made for them. Goldfish do not have true stomachs and can have trouble digesting food.
Tropical food, which is what you would need to feed your tetras, is harder for goldfish to digest.
Goldfish do best when fed food that is made especially for them. Goldfish should be fed goldfish flakes or pellets.
Recommended Further Reading: What Do Goldfish Eat? What To Feed (And Not Feed) Your Goldfish
Reason 5: Social Habits
Tetras and goldfish are both social fish. Tetras are a community fish and do best when in schools of 10 to 15.
It is never recommended that they be in schools less than six.
Smaller groups of tetras can make them feel threatened, and that can cause stress.
If under stress, they are more susceptible to diseases and poor eating habits.
If tetras feel threatened, they will also try to hide, and you will be robbed of enjoying them.
Tetras can also become depressed if they don’t have other tetras to school with.
If depressed or under stress, a Neon tetra’s stripes can actually become dim.
With no other tetras to school with, tetras have been known to migrate to groups of other small fish.
Goldfish are social fish too. Goldfish don’t form schools, but they will migrate towards other goldfish.
A group of goldfish is called a “troubling.”
If you had a group of goldfish and a school of tetras, you would only increase the odds of some tetras being eaten by the goldfish.
To sum things up, Neon tetras and goldfish cannot live together.
Both of them are exciting and beautiful fish, but they cannot thrive in the same environment.
So it is best to keep them separate for creating a healthy environment for each of them.