Chances are that if you own goldfish, they’re the only thing in your tank. Does this make your tank seem empty? Does it need something else to spruce it up? Or maybe you want to add shrimp to help keep the tank clean — goldfish are dirty, after all.
Can shrimp live with goldfish? There is no straightforward answer to this. No tank is the same, no goldfish is the same, and no shrimp are the same.
If you want to find out if it’s safe to add shrimp to your goldfish tank, keep reading. We’ll cover all the scenarios below.
There are several factors that you need to consider. How big are your goldfish? How big are the shrimp you want to get? What is the temperament of your goldfish? Do you have plenty of hiding places for the shrimp?
The quick answer is yes — you can safely house shrimp and goldfish together, but you need to have a strategy. You also need to ask yourself a few questions.
How likely is it that your goldfish will eat your shrimp? How can you protect your shrimp? Which shrimp are best suited for a goldfish tank?
Why Would You Want To Keep Shrimp In The Tank?
Shrimp help clean up the tank, and they make the tank more fun and interactive.
Despite what many believe, shrimp will not eat fish poop. Shrimp are bottom-dwellers that feed off detritus. Still, they will only choose nutritious foods.
But, they can still keep your tank clean! Many kinds of shrimp are masters at cleaning algae.
Besides algae, shrimp will clean up any leftover food your goldfish leaves behind. Is there food stuck in the nooks and crannies that your goldfish can’t reach? Your shrimp will take care of that. Is there dying plant matter in the tank? The shrimp will take care of that too.
Not only are shrimp great tank cleaners, but they’re fun to look at! They are interesting little crustaceans that will flit all over the tank. Depending on which kind of shrimp you choose, they can even brighten up your tank with a splash of color.
“Will My Goldfish Eat My Shrimp?”
Goldfish are peaceful fish, so you don’t usually have to worry about their temperament. Quite the contrary, actually. Most times, you have to worry about the aggression of their tank mates.
But, the problem is that goldfish will eat just about anything. They are not aggressive, but they are opportunistic feeders. If a shrimp is available and it’s small enough to fit in your goldfish’s mouth, they will eat it. So yes, goldfish eat shrimp.
If you keep your goldfish well fed, they may be less likely to go after the shrimp. For one thing, goldfish are slow, awkward swimmers. It’s easier to rely on your freely-given food than it is to chase after shrimp.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t keep goldfish and shrimp together. It just means that you need to take steps to keep your shrimp safe.
How To Keep Your Shrimps Safe
If you’re going to keep shrimp in your goldfish tank, there are some things you can do to protect them.
Give Them A Place To Hide
Most importantly, you need to provide plenty of places for your shrimp to hide.
No matter how many hiding places you provide, it’s inevitable that your goldfish will eat a few shrimp. But, if you have plenty of hiding places, you can reduce the number of shrimp that become a snack.
Most shrimp species are profuse breeders. You will constantly notice new babies popping up around the tank. So, you should have enough babies being born to replace the ones that your goldfish eat.
Still, this will only be effective if you have places for the shrimp to hide. If you don’t provide hiding places, the goldfish will decimate the shrimp population in no time.
Some of the best hiding spots to provide your shrimp are plants. Shrimp are masters of concealing themselves within the leaves of plants.
You can use fake plants, but I recommend using live ones. Live plants will provide a nice food source for both your shrimp and your goldfish. They will also help to oxygenate the water.
Goldfish eat plants, so you should choose plants that are sturdy and harder for your goldfish to eat. This will help your shrimp’s hiding spot last longer.
Here are some of the best live plants for your shrimp:
- Java Fern
- Java Moss: this one, in particular, is wonderful for shrimp — it is an amazing place to hide
The problem with live plants is that goldfish like to uproot plants from the gravel. That can harm the shrimp, or expose them when they’re hiding.
If you’re worried about this, you can use fake plants. Still, the benefits of live plants are worth the risk.
Another good option is to get decorations with lots of nooks and crannies. There are lots of great decorations that have holes and hiding spots that the goldfish can’t reach. This is great for your shrimp to hide.
Common Goldfish VS Fancy Goldfish
Don’t have goldfish yet? Consider buying fancy goldfish over common or comet goldfish.
Fancy goldfish have large, rounded bodies with long, flowy fins. They are much slower swimmers than common and comet goldfish. So, they will be less likely to attack your shrimp.
You’ll also need to maintain the shrimp-to-goldfish ratio in your tank. You want to have many more shrimp in your tank than goldfish.
The more goldfish there are, the more likely they will eat your shrimp. If you don’t have many shrimp in the tank to begin with, their numbers will be quickly depleted.
How To Introduce Shrimp To Your Goldfish Tank
Depending on your situation, there are a couple of ways to safely introduce your shrimp.
Add The Shrimp Before The Goldfish
In a perfect world, you’ll be able to introduce the shrimp to the tank before introducing the goldfish. Doing so gives your shrimp a chance to get to know their environment without the presence of any dangers.
They will learn the layout of the tank and be able to identify any good hiding spots. So, once you add your goldfish, the shrimp can scatter to their hiding spots before they’re eaten.
Unfortunately for the shrimp, most people think of purchasing them as an after fact. The goldfish are already in the tank, so it makes a more dangerous situation for the shrimp.
What should you do in this situation?
Temporarily Remove Your Goldfish
If you already have goldfish in your tank, you could remove them for a short period of time if it’s safe to do so.
If your fish are small enough, you could fill a large bucket with some water from the aquarium. Net your goldfish and transfer them to the bucket for about half an hour. This will give your shrimp enough time to explore the tank.
Still, this method is going to stress out your fish, so proceed with caution.
Distract Your Goldfish
The best option is to distract your goldfish. Goldfish are active, friendly fish who bond with their caretakers. Chances are that when you go up to the tank, they will swim up to greet you.
You can give them treats and interact with them while you add the shrimp on the other side of the tank. With any luck, your goldfish won’t notice the shrimp.
Best Shrimp For Goldfish Tank
There is no perfect kind of shrimp to house in a goldfish tank. Every kind of shrimp is likely to become prey to your goldfish. Still, there are some shrimp that work better than others.
Goldfish are peaceful and don’t generally hunt their prey. They are opportunistic and prefer to jump at prey that can easily fit into their mouth.
So, for best results, pick a kind of shrimp that is going to be too big for your goldfish to eat.
You’re also going to be better off picking translucent shrimp over those with bright colors. They will be harder to spot, so your goldfish might not even notice them.
Some of the best kinds of shrimp to house with goldfish include:
- Amano Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp
- Brine Shrimp*
*Brine shrimp will not survive in a goldfish tank, but they are a popular food source. They have a lot of protein, so many aquarists will buy them specifically to feed their goldfish.
Amano shrimp are the best option for your tank because they are translucent and large. Most goldfish won’t even notice them flitting around the tank. But, if they do, they will likely leave them alone because they’re too big to eat.
Ghost shrimp are another good option because they’re transparent bottom-feeders. They always stay at the bottom of the tank, so your goldfish might not even notice them.
Shrimp that you should avoid include:
- Dwarf Shrimp
- Cherry Shrimp
- Bamboo Shrimp
Dwarf shrimp are not ideal because of their size, as they can easily fit inside a goldfish’s mouth. Bamboo shrimp are very colorful like cherry shrimp, so they make easy targets.
Many people choose to take their chances with cherry shrimp. They add color to the tank and are wonderful cleaners. They are fast breeders, so if you provide plenty of places to hide, you may be able to get away with it.
You have to be careful when adding shrimp to a goldfish tank, but you can do it. Be sure to choose shrimp that are too large for your goldfish to eat, and provide them with lots of hiding spots. If you do this, you might have success!