Do Goldfish Eat Minnows?

goldfish with minnows

Goldfish owners often struggle to find fish that can coexist with goldfish because goldfish eat pretty much everything that fits in their mouth. That includes fish, plants, and random stuff that falls into the water.

To answer the question, goldfish will eat minnows if the minnows can fit in the mouth of the goldfish. However, this does not mean that you cannot have minnows with your goldfish. You just have to take certain precautions to ensure that the minnows do not get eaten.

Tips For Keeping Goldfish And Minnows In The Same Tank Or Pond

  • Keep goldfish and minnows in a large (55+ gallon) tank or a large pond. This allows the minnows to escape the goldfish that chase them AND the minnows can school so they don’t harass the goldfish.
  • Goldfish with big fins (ie. fancy goldfish) won’t eat minnows because the goldfish are too slow, but the minnows will bite the fins on the goldfish.
  • Add structure so that the minnows have somewhere to hide from the goldfish.
  • Don’t put a solo goldfish with a bunch of minnows or other fish. The goldfish will get stressed and chase the minnows around too much.

Goldfish and Minnows Together – Strategy

There are a few strategies for keeping goldfish and minnows together. I covered the basics in the previous section. This section will expand on those basics.

Large Tank or Pond

The best way to prevent any problems between goldfish and minnows is to place them in a large tank. I personally recommend 55 gallons at a minimum, but the bigger the better.

You can’t have a tank too big for goldfish.

This will give the fish plenty of their own space and should prevent any problems. Also, anything smaller than that does not give these fish enough space to roam – goldfish and minnows aren’t guppies. They need a lot of space to be happy.

My personal recommendation is to only keep goldfish or minnows in a pond or 220+ gallon tank for that reason.

Now, if you decide to keep goldfish and minnows in a smaller tank, then you will notice that the fish compete for territory. This results in the goldfish trying to eat the minnows because, well, goldfish eat pretty much everything that fits in their mouth. More interesting is that the minnows will school up and bite the fins on the goldfish.

The goldfish will also get stressed out being in such a small tank with nowhere to roam.

In summary, a 55 gallon tank is the minimum size tank for goldfish, but 220 gallons is even better if you want goldfish and minnows in the same tank. A pond is also good if you have a big enough pond.

Lots of Structure

Next, you also want to have a lot of structure in the tank. The reason for this is two-fold.

First, it just looks better having these fish in a tank with some structure. Fish tanks without any structure just look weird in my opinion.

The other reason is important for the health of your fish. Minnows need somewhere to hide out when they’re tired from swimming away from the goldfish. Remember, goldfish get big, so structure will allow the minnows to congregate somewhere that the minnows can’t reach them.

I recommend some sort of rock structure that has a cave in it or a tiki hut-type structure that goldfish cannot access. Live plants also work, but the goldfish will eat live plants. They will also dig up the roots of live plants with their mouth.

Goldfish owners should already know that goldfish eat live plants. The fish are like Tasmanian Devils when it comes to live plants – they leave nothing.

Well-Fed Goldfish

You should also keep your goldfish well-fed with goldfish pellets. This will not guarantee that the goldfish don’t chase the fish.

Actually, it won’t because goldfish don’t appear to have any mechanism that makes them feel full. But if you feed them enough, then it can make them a little more sluggish and less encouraged to chase fish around the fish tank.

Plus, it’s just cruel to not feed fish in your fish tank.

A Large Minnow Population

The other strategy is a more interesting strategy. It’s actually my favorite strategy because it requires the least amount of work.

Simply let nature run its course and allow the goldfish to eat the slow minnows. Minnows are at the bottom of the foodchain, so they reproduce fast enough that this should not be a problem.

You’ll also have some very well-fed goldfish.

This also has the benefit of creating a sort of survival of the fittest situation in your aquarium. Only the fastest, smartest minnows will survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. On a long enough timeline, you might create your own breed of minnows that has been genetically selected to escape goldfish.

Will it work?

Probably not in all honesty, but it’s a fun experiment. If the minnow population dwindles too much, then you can simply buy more minnows for your aquarium.

I know this strategy might sound cruel, but this is how nature works. Minnows are at the bottom of the food chain so they do get eaten by larger fish. And you can mimic that dynamic in your own fish tank.

I understand if this is not the strategy you don’t want to have in your tank. However, it is still a viable strategy for keeping these two fish together.

Final Thoughts

Well, that covers it for if goldfish eat minnows. Goldfish certainly eat minnows, but that does not mean you can’t have the two together in the same tank. You simply have to adjust your setup and add enough spots for the minnows to hide for the two to have a peaceful coexistence.

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