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Should You Keep Cichlids And Goldfish In The Same Tank?

Goldfish are by far the most commonly kept freshwater fish species within the fish keeping hobby and although cichlids are less common within the hobby, they are seeing solid growth in their popularity as more and more people choose to keep cichlids in their tanks.

With both species being popular, we have noticed a number of people reaching out and asking about keeping cichlids and goldfish in the same tank so wanted to publish this article on the topic.

Goldfish and most species of cichlid should not be kept in the same tank as the more aggressive cichlid species can be aggressive towards their tank mate and will commonly eat any goldfish in their tanks.

There are a small number of passive cichlid species that you could keep in your aquarium with goldfish but the temperature and water parameter requirements often make it difficult.

As we covered in our article going over keeping tiger barbs and cichlids in the same tank, you are able to use Blue Acara Cichlids, Yellow Lab Cichlids, and German Blue Ram Cichlids in community tanks with other species of fish due to their passive nature.

Although there are a handful of other passive cichlid species, those three are definitely the most popular as they have better color and patterns while also being cheaper and easier to find for most people.

Can Cichlids Be Kept With Goldfish?

The more aggressive species of cichlids will commonly attack and eat any goldfish in their tank so it is usually not recommended to keep the two together.

Goldfish usually require a tank temperature of 68°F to 74°F where as cichlids usually require a tank temperature of 76°F to 82°F meaning that there is no direct cross over in the water temperature tolerance of the two species either.

Now, this point about water temperature is controversial as most species of goldfish can live in water as high as 86°F but this is not recommended and it will often cause problems with the goldfish.

This does mean that a goldfish can technically live in an aquarium with cichlids without the water temperature being an issue, especially if the tank is kept around the 76°F point as it is less likely that the water temperature of the tank will cause any problems for the goldfish while still being tolerable for most species of cichlid.

There are ways that you are able to balance the other water parameters in a way that is able to support keeping goldfish and cichlids in the same aquarium as each other.

There is also some crossover between the two species when it comes to water flow and lighting intensity requirements too so you are able to do it but we would only ever recommend it with one of the cichlid species in the section below as they are usually considered safe for a community tank.

What Species Of Cichlids Can Live With Goldfish?

The three species of cichlid that are considered to be more passive and community tank friendly are the Blue Acara Cichlids, Yellow Lab Cichlids, and German Blue Ram Cichlids.

If you are looking to keep goldfish and cichlids in the same aquarium tank then we would only recommend those three species of cichlid as the chance of them being aggressive to your goldfish is much lower than the other cichlid species.

Mbuna cichlids are extremely popular right now but they are also one of the more aggressive species of cichlids and we would never recommend that you try to keep goldfish in a tank with Mbuna cichlids or any other type of African cichlids due to their high aggression levels.

American cichlids can be hit and miss depending on the specific species but the risk of them being aggressive to your goldfish is still high due to them also being an aggressive fish that are often territorial.

Even the three more passive species of cichlid that we recommended for a tank with goldfish still present some level of risk to your goldfish.

Although they are usually not aggressive, they are still cichlids and can still have outbursts of aggression but it is usually limited to some chasing and tail or fin nipping before the fish will calm down again and return to being passive.

Is There Enough Cross Over In Water Parameters For Cichlids And Goldfish To Live Together?

Most water parameter requirements for cichlids and goldfish do have a small margin of crossover to make it possible to keep optimal conditions for both species in the same tank.

There is a gap within the ideal water temperature requirements of 2°F but the tolerable water temperatures of goldfish can stretch to be within range of the lower temperature requirements for cichlids with minimal issue to the goldfish.

If you are going to try and optimize an aquarium tank for keeping cichlids with goldfish then we would recommend that you base the water temperature around the requirements of your cichlids rather than the goldfish.

Cichlids tend not to do well outside of their recommended water temperatures where as goldfish do usually have a much wider range of tolerable temperatures available to them.

Some specific species of cichlids tend to prefer slightly higher nitrate levels to that of goldfish too but this is usually not much of an issue as goldfish are the more hardy of the two species.

Slightly increasing the nitrate requirements in the tank to meet the needs of a cichlid is usually going to be a better option than leaving the nitrate levels out of requirements to suit the needs of the goldfish as it may cause problems for the cichlid.

Will Cichlids Eat Goldfish In Their Tank?

Most cichlid species will attack and eat smaller goldfish in their tank with a large number of cichlid species even attacking and potentially eating any larger goldfish that are in their tank too.

Some species of cichlid are unpredictable too and we have seen some people say that they have had cichlids in a community tank for months without issue and then all of a sudden the cichlid becomes aggressive and attacks and eats its tank mates.

Even if the cichlids are not trying to eat the goldfish in their tank, they can still be aggressive towards the goldfish as many species of cichlid are territorial and aggressive to their tank mates anyway.

Over time, the highest stress and anxiety levels of the goldfish due to being constantly chased, nipped, and attacked by the cichlids in its tank will take its toll on the fish.

You can sometimes get around this by keeping your cichlids in a much larger tank than they actually require as this can reduce their aggression levels in some situations but this is not guaranteed by any means.

This often only works with other territorial fish that will form their own sections of the tank and stick to them too where as goldfish will often wander into what the cichlid perceives as its territory no matter the size of the aquarium.

Can Cichlids Live With Goldfish In A Pond?

The majority of people are not able to keep cichlids in a pond with goldfish due to the temperatures of ponds being far too low for cichlids.

If you do live in a warm area or keep a heated pond then you can maintain suitable water temperatures for the cichlids but most species of cichlid will still be aggressive towards goldfish in their tank.

We have seen some beautiful pond setups going viral on social media over the last couple of months that have cichlids in them but this is not really a realistic goal for the majority of our readers.

Most people live in areas that are not warm enough to support cichlids in a normal pond and heated ponds can be extremely expensive and will often be out of budge for most people too.

This is why the vast majority of people who do keep cichlids will keep them in a tank rather than in an outdoor pond.

You also have to realize that the bright colors of cichlids can often attract unwanted attention from birds who may see your fish in an outdoor pond as a quick and easy meal too.


That brings our article going over keeping cichlids and goldfish in the same aquarium as each other to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you understand that although it is technically possible to keep cichlids and goldfish in the same aquarium as each other, we really don’t recommend it and the majority of people will usually be much better off just keeping a cichlid only tank.