Can Molly Fish Live With Fancy Goldfish? (are they good tank mates?)

Mollies are one of the most popular species of fish in our hobby. For many decades they have been kept and bred by hobbyists around the world. Thanks to the hard work of dedicated breeders there are many different colors and strains of Mollies to choose from.

Although Mollies are beautiful in their own right, it is always nice to find a compatible tank mate. In this article, I consider whether or not Fancy Goldfish make good tank mates for Mollies?

In my experience, Mollies and Fancy Goldfish do not make good tank mates. The two fish require different water parameters, different foods and Mollies are faster swimmers than Fancy Goldfish, meaning the Mollies might outcompete the Fancy Goldfish at feeding time.



Can Mollies Live With Fancy Goldfish?

I have kept both Mollies and Fancy Goldfish for many years, and about 5 years ago I tried this combination. I took a 40-gallon (155 liters) tank and put 3 Fancy Goldfish with a group of 6 Sailfin Mollies.

From day 1 it was clear this was not a combination that was going to work. Straight away I realized the Sailfin Mollies were much faster swimmers than the Fancy Goldfish. When I added food to the tank, the Mollies shot through the water like torpedos, consuming as much as they could, whilst the Fancy Goldfish bumbled slowly across the tank.

By the time the Fancy Goldfish arrived, the lion’s share of the food was already gone. I added more food, but the same thing happen. No matter how much food I added, the Sailfin Mollies just kept eating it.

I kept this tank going for about 3 weeks before it became clear the Sailfin Mollies were dominating all the food and the Fancy Goldfish were getting very little to eat.

I decided to take the Fancy Goldfish out and move them to their own tank.

Why Mollies and Fancy Goldfish Should Not Be Kept Together

There are a number of good reasons Mollies and Fancy Goldfish should not be kept in the same aquarium together.

  • Fancy Goldfish want to live in water that is cooler than the Mollies would want. Fancy Goldfish want their water to be around 64°F to 74°F (18°C to 23°C) whereas Mollies want their aquarium water to be around 75° to 80°F (24° to 26.7°C).
  • Fancy Goldfish are very slow swimmers, whereas Mollies tend to be fairly quick swimmers. As such, the Mollies will eat the majority of the food before the Fancy Goldfish have a chance.
  • Male Mollies can be quite boisterous, whereas Fancy Goldfish tend to be very placid. It is easy to see a situation where male Mollies, especially larger Sailfin Mollies bully and stress out the Fancy Goldfish who do not have the ability to swim away and hide from the Mollies.

Fancy Goldfish

Keeping Fancy Goldfish is a hobby that goes back hundreds of years. These beautiful, charismatic fish come in a wide selection of colors, sizes, and fin types. From the Bubble Eyed Goldfish to the large, round Fantail Goldfish, there is a Fancy Goldfish to suit every taste.

In my experience, Fancy Goldfish do best when kept either in a species only trank with their own kind, or with other fish that won’t try to outcompete the Fancy Goldfish for food. Fancy Goldfish do not swim quickly, so it is easy for almost every breed of fish to get to the food before they can.

In my experience, the ideal tank for a small group of Fancy Goldfish is at least a 40-gallon (155 liters) tank. The water should be kept at between about 64°F and 74°F (18°C and 23°C).

Although often considered a cold-water fish, Fancy Goldfish do much better when the water is kept slightly warmer. Keeping the water at a minimum of 64°F helps the Fancy Goldfish digest their food more easily. When the water temperature is lower, there is a risk their food won’t digest properly, and can actually start to rot, causing the fish internal problems.

Fancy Goldfish Tank Mates

I have tried lots of different tank mate combinations with my Fancy Goldifhs over the years. Some have been very successful, others not so much. Below I have listed a few tank mates that I have found to work really well.

Hillstream Loaches

Image Source: Girl Talks Fish (YouTube)

Reticulated Hillstream Loaches look and act like a pleco. They will stick themselves to rocks, decorations, and of course the aquarium glass.

Thanks to the fact that Hillstream Loaches want to eat off the bottom, or scrape algae from flat surfaces, there is little chance they will try to eat the same food as the Fancy Goldfish. What they will do however is eat any food that gets past the Fancy Goldfish and makes it to the bottom of the aquarium.

It is not unheard of for Hillstream Loaches to breed in the home aquarium, and providing you give the offspring enough hiding places in the form of rock piles, you may find your population increases over time.

Panda Corydoras

I have found Panada Corydoras to make excellent tank mates for Fancy Goldfish, providing you set the water temperature correctly.

For Panda Corydoras and Fancy Goldfish to get along, you will want the water temperature to be right at the Fancy Goldfish’s upper limit of around 74°F (23°C). This is the bottom end of the Panda Corydoras temperature range, but it should still work out ok.

This is a combination that will work, but only until the Fancy Goldfish become huge, which will take many years. A very large Fancy Goldfish may try to eat a very small Panda Corydoras, but I have never found it to be a problem.

Dojo Loaches

Dojo Loaches, which are sometimes called Weather Loaches, are one of my favorite fish to add to a Fancy Goldfish tank. As with other potential tank mates suggested, the Dojo Loach will not try to compete with the Fancy Goldfish for food. Instead, they would rather root around in the substrate looking for things to eat.

Dojo Loaches grow to around 6″ (15cm) and are fairly cheap fish to buy, often costing between $5 and $10 each.

Dojo Loaches come in the standard color form as seen in the picture above, and also in albino and gold colors.



Bristlenose Pleco

I have written hundreds of articles in my time that refer to Bristlenose Plecos being the perfect fish to add to almost any community aquarium setup, and they also work well with Fancy Goldfish. I currently keep at least 1 Bristlnose Pleco in every Fancy Goldfish tank in my fish room.

Bristlnose Plecos are peaceful, and spend their entire day either stuck to the aquarium glass or sitting in their cave. They will work hard to keep your Fancy Goldfish aquarium clear of algae and they will quickly eat any food that makes it to the bottom of the tank.



Mollies

There are many different forms of Mollies. Whether you are thinking of keeping the stunning black mollies with their uniform black color or the large Sailfin Mollies which can grow to 5″ (12.5cm), their care and list of potential tanks mates is roughly the same.

Over the last 30 years, I have kept and written about almost every type of Molly in the hobby. When I give fishkeeping talks around the country, one of the questions I often get asked is, ‘what fish can I keep with my Mollies?’. Below I have listed some of my favorites.

Guppies

Guppies and Mollies is a classic combination that is practiced in thousands of tanks around the world. Guppies and Mollies essentially want the same water conditions, the same tank set and they will eat the same foods.

If you keep some brightly colored Guppies with black or silver Mollies, the color contrast looks amazing.

Angelfish

Angelfish and Mollies is another classic combination, and one which I have in a number of the tanks in my fish room.

Much like with Guppies, Angelfish and Mollies want a very similar setup. There are a large number of hobbyists who keep a single Angelfish with their Mollies because the Angelfish helps prevent the Molly population from growing out of control.

Angelfish and Mollies both come in a wide selection of colors, meaning you can either match them or contrast them depending on your tastes.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras also work really well with Mollies. I keep a large school on Neon Tetras with a group of Black Mollies, and the Neon Tetras colors really pop against the black of the Black Mollies.

Do be aware that a full-grown male Sailfin Molly could probably eat a very small Neon Tetra, but providing that combination is avoided I think the two go really well together.



In Conclusion

I love keeping Fancy Goldfish and I love keeping Mollies, but keeping the two together is not a great idea. Fancy Goldfish and Mollies want to live in different water conditions and the speed the Mollies consume their food at could leave the Fancy Goldfish going without.

There are many combinations of tank mates that work for these two fish, and with a little searching, a combination you like is easy to find.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor