What fish are compatible with goldfish in a pond?

The goldfish has been subjected to rigorous selection by man in his quest to develop and improve certain desirable physical characteristics.

The longer tails of the comet goldfish, the range of colours available in shubunkins and even the bubble-eyes and pearly scales of the fancier varieties offer pondkeepers a number of goldfish varieties when wanting to keep this very versatile fish.

Yet if it is more than goldfish ( in any of its available guises), you are after there are numerous other worthy candidates as companions of the goldfish.

I remember when I started keeping fish, as a tropical hobbyist, there seemed to be hundreds of fish from which I could choose. After purchasing and setting up my aquarium, with a shopping list of all the fish I wanted, I was to be disappointed to find that some of the Tropical fish I had on my ‘wish-list’ were not compatible. That is, some would become the food of others!

Fortunately, with the very rare exception, this is not the case with pond fish, and particularly goldfish. The goldfish, is a typical carp in that it does not have an angry bone in its body. They are neither territorial, nor carnivorous and will not willingly predate on other fish (except perhaps small fry that will be consumed as though insect larvae).

All coldwater fish on sale at aquatic outlets are likely to be compatible with each other. However, there may be a number of issues relating to a fish’s compatibility or suitability to specific pond sizes and conditions.

Shubunkin / Sarasa Comets

Similar nature to the traditional goldfish (after all, they are the same species). No need to worry about the compatibility with goldfish. If your pond is suitable for goldfish, these will make worthy companions.

Fancy Goldfish

Bred for their ‘weird and wonderful’ features, fancy goldfish are not compatible as a pondfish with other goldfish. They will rarely overwinter on account of their inbred nature and in summer, these slower swimming fish will find it difficult to compete for food during the activities of feeding time.


Although still a member of the carp family, the Koi is more of a voracious feeder, keener to scavenge and root around than a goldfish. Plants are a ‘no no’ as koi will help themselves to planted baskets and do their very best to scatter the aquatic soil all over the pond. (After tasting it of course!). Koi also have a greater growth potential, rapidly outstripping the goldfish clan. The odd small koi can make a useful addition to a pond, and you are likely to be faced with a problem when it gets so big. Koi are best kept in a deeper, unplanted pond compared with a traditional garden pond. Also, watch out for ghost koi, as they can really grow very quickly, as they are particularly voracious feeders.

Golden Orfe

Usually available in the golden variety, orfe can make a very lively addition to a pond. Taking residence in the upper layers of a pond, the Orfe is a sleekly built shoaling fish and is capable of jumping clear of the water. Orfe prefer ‘cleaner’ water than the goldfish, but adapt well to a garden pond with lots of surface area. They are also likely to be the first of the pond fish to show a change in behaviour should water conditions start to deteriorate.

Rosy Red Minnows:

Almost a miniature version of the Orfe in appearance, the Rosy Red Minnow is a useful pond addition for exploring tight nooks and crannies in a well-planted pond. They are a shoaling fish, and can become very territorial come breeding time, the Minnow is one of the few carps to show aggression. It’s a good job it’s such a small fish!

Golden Tench:

If you were to put a tench in your pond, the only time you would be likely to see it again would be if you were to clean the pond out. Fortunately, golden tench (their colour is very similar to Orfe) are available as a visible, yet functional fish, inhabiting the depths of a pond and taking care of any food that may reach them at the bottom.

Choosing fish for the garden pond can be a most enjoyable ‘outing’, especially when there are so many varieties from which to choose. The vast majority of pond fish are compatible with each other in terms of aggression, but may have particular pond-specific requirements.gression, but may have particular pond-specific requirements.

Kill blanketweed and string algae.