Do Goldfish Eat Shrimp? Compatibility Guide

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Goldfish are probably the first species that come to mind to new aquarium hobbyists because we see a bunch of different goldfish kept in movies, series, and other popular environments. Many newcomers choose goldfish as their starting pet in this hobby.

Other amazing aquatic pets are shrimp. There are a lot of different species, that vary in size or color, and all of them have unique characteristics, that really increases the urge of wanting to keep shrimp in your tank. Some people would even want to keep shrimp in a goldfish tank, but there are a lot of dangers in that combination. Continue reading, to find out if shrimp can be in the same tank as goldfish!

Table of Contents

Goldfish Temperament

Most goldfish species are peaceful and sociable fish. There can be a lot of factors, that determine what kind of character your goldfish will have. Not every single goldfish will act the same, so there are no guarantees, that some fish might still find a reason to be bad tank mates to other species. In most cases, if there is enough space, proper food, and good water conditions, goldfish are peaceful creatures.

close up of fancy orange goldfish in aquarium

A lot of the time goldfish fall into beginner fish keeper’s hands, that do not know how to properly care for these species. If there is not enough space in the tank, some goldfish might start bullying and chasing each other. All aquatic creatures need their personal space, so it is important to do enough research before getting a certain fish so that you would certainly know all their potential needs.

Food is another factor, that can alter the character of your goldfish. If they are not fed enough, goldfish can become more aggressive, since they will be competing for food with other species. At the same time, they might start seeing smaller aquatic creatures as food.

Goldfish Diet

Probably every experienced fishkeeper knows, that goldfish have one of the biggest appetites compared to other similar-sized aquatic species. Goldfish are omnivorous fish, which means they need high protein nutrition and plant-based food to thrive. Similar to guppies or mollies, goldfish are opportunistic feeders, that might even try to eat smaller fish, dead fish, and food that is not meant for them.

Goldfish are also known for occasionally grazing plant leaves, and eating dead plant material. They do this because goldfish need certain minerals, that can’t be obtained through protein-based foods. Nevertheless, here are some of the most popular food used for goldfish:

  • Fish flakes
  • Pellets
  • Frozen/live bloodworms
  • Frozen/live brine shrimp
  • Mosquito larvae

Sometimes it can look, that your goldfish is hungry, but remember, that overfeeding an aquarium fish is very bad. Try feeding one time a day, and put in the amount of food, that would get eaten in 2 minutes. Otherwise, it will fall to the substrate and would not get eaten by goldfish.

Will Goldfish Eat Shrimp?

After breaking down goldfish temperant and diet, we can safely say, that goldfish will eat shrimp if the conditions are right. If there is very little cover in the tank, the goldfish is hungry, and the shrimp is small enough, there is a high chance that it will become goldfish food.

close up of red and blue neocaridina shrimp together in aquarium

Goldfish eat pretty much anything that can fit in their mouth, and sometimes these species are even referred to as “water pigs”, because of their eating behavior. Keeping shrimp with goldfish is not the best idea, because there are other tank mates, that would do great, and not get eaten.

What Shrimp Can be Kept With Goldfish?

If you are still not deterred by the fact that goldfish might eat every single shrimp you put with them in the tank, here are some shrimp species that have the highest chance of survival with goldfish.

Amano Shrimp

These species would have a better time living in the goldfish tank because they are bigger. Other species do not grow that large, and can easily be consumed by even a smaller goldfish, while amano shrimp is way larger, and can grow up to 2 inches (5cm). 

Due to their size, smaller goldfish would not see amano shrimp as food and leave it alone in most cases. Another factor, that can make amano shrimp a possible tank mate is speed. Amano shrimp is fast, and when a goldfish comes too close, it can easily use its tail and spring back, leaving the interested goldfish confused.

Ghost Shrimp

Another potential species, that can somewhat live with goldfish in the same tank, are ghost shrimp. These particular shrimp have transparent bodies, hence the name “ghost”, and can be hard to spot. For this reason, keeping ghost shrimp instead of colorful neocaridina shrimp species can be more successful. Goldfish will have a harder time noticing ghost shrimp.

You might also like to read: Amano Shrimp vs Ghost Shrimp: Which is Better?

How to Keep Goldfish With Shrimp?

There are a lot of little things that can be done to successfully keep shrimp in a goldfish tank. The main problem would be, that goldfish might eat shrimp, so it is important to ensure the right environment for these small creatures. Of course, there are no guarantees, that goldfish will not eat shrimp, but it is important to at least try to create the right conditions for these species.

It may be surprising to you, but both shrimp and goldfish live in similar water conditions. In the wild, goldfish eat shrimp, so the right environment should be created, if you do not want your whole shrimp colony eaten by goldfish.

Add Aquatic Plants

Shrimp are small fragile creatures, so adding a lot of aquarium plants will help them hide better from goldfish. Plants also create a lot of eyesight-breaking points, which can be beneficial for shrimp. There are a lot of good aquarium plants for shrimp, but the best one is java moss because smaller shrimp can easily hide inside it. Here are other hardy aquarium plants, that can also be used:

  • Anubias
  • Bucephalandra
  • Amazon Sword
  • Java Fern
  • Cryptocoryne
  • Vallisneria

Aquatic plants also help clean the water. Goldfish produce a huge amount of waste, and shrimp are very prone to water parameter changes, so be sure to have a lot of plants, because they help to filter the water.

Add Decorations

Decorations like rocks, and driftwood can be very beneficial for your shrimp. When there is a larger fish present in a fish tank, shrimp tend to be shyer, Having rocks, and driftwood is excellent because shrimp can hide in all sorts of gaps and corners, whereas bigger goldfish will have a harder time getting to those places.

It is also important to mention, that sharp rocks or driftwood can hurt your goldfish. These species are reckless swimmers, and can occasionally bump into things. If there are any sharp decorations present in your aquarium, it can result in an injury to your goldfish. There are a lot of aquarium rocks, that have softer edges and would not hurt your goldfish. Try choosing safer decorations, so that both shrimp and goldfish would be happier.

Introduce Shrimp First to the Tank

Moving on, shrimp need to be introduced first into the aquarium, simply because goldfish will think that it is feeding time and will go instantly after shrimp when they are put into the aquarium. Goldfish will start associating shrimp with food.

If it is not possible to introduce shrimp first to the aquarium (it may be an existing goldfish tank), you should add shrimp only when goldfish are well-fed, and when it is dark. Trying to eat shrimp in the darkness is way harder, and they would have a better chance of surviving.

How to Feed Goldfish and Shrimp Together?

Giving food to goldfish and shrimp at the same time can be somewhat tricky because goldfish might confuse shrimp for food. You do not want hungry goldfish anywhere near shrimp. The right way to feed both species is to create a distraction for goldfish. Firstly, you can add some food to one part of the tank, and a little later some shrimp food to a different part, where there are no goldfish.

Shrimp are bottom-dweller species, that eat what they can find on the bottom, while goldfish feed at the top-mid area of the tank, so it is important not to give goldfish any reasons to go to the bottom of the tank. Be sure to not feed too much food, because it will eventually sink, and goldfish will search for it, which can lead to goldfish meeting shrimp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Goldfish Eat Cherry Shrimp?

Goldfish will definitely eat cherry shrimp if they can. Cherry shrimp are in the family of neocaridina, and grow up to a maximum of 1.5 in (4 cm). These species, especially baby shrimp can quickly become expensive goldfish food. 

Can Shrimp Breed in Goldfish Tank?

Shrimp, especially neocaridina, breed a lot, and can even multiply in goldfish tanks. Although shrimp would feel less safe and will spend more time hiding, they will eventually breed, if there is enough food and the water parameters are good.

Writer's Thoughts

Personally, I would not house shrimp and goldfish in the same tank. I believe there are a lot better aquatic species combinations. Shrimp are excellent creatures, and observing them in a habitat where there are no predators is way better. Keeping goldfish in a species tank is also a more appropriate option because there would be no reason to do all of these different things to make them compatible with other fish.

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