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Are Goldfish Sociable Creatures?


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I was having a look round here seeing if I could find a 'goldfish behaviour' section (sorry if there is one - if so I must be blind :P ) as it occurred to me I'd never really read much about their 'social preferences' if you like.

Do goldfish prefer to be kept in a pair, or a group? Can they be kept alone happily? I've always just assumed my goldfish enjoy eachother's company, I've never witnessed any fighting and while they don't group together like many fish do, they certainly interact.

Infact I swear my shubumkin watched over one of the goldies when he was ill (didn't have a qt tank then) - all the time he was ill, the shubie sat by his side most of the time, and when he did have a swim around he'd always keep popping over as if he was checking on him. Now maybe there was another reason and I was putting human emotions on that, or maybe I just imagined it! :P

Any ideas? :)

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Pairs is good. Groups are great but first and foremost is enough gallons per fish. 10 plus for your fancies and 20 plus for your long bodied fish.

Better to be a lone fish and have enough water then have a pair and not enough water.

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Nope. We don't have a section for behaviour, so you posted in the right spot. :)

Pairs is good. Groups are great but first and foremost is enough gallons per fish. 10 plus for your fancies and 20 plus for your long bodied fish.

Better to be a lone fish and have enough water then have a pair and not enough water.

I couldn't have said it better.

Goldies will adapt to whatever social conditions that you provide them from. If they are in a group, they will exhibit schooling behaviours. If they are by themselves, they seem to have an agenda that keeps them just as busy as if they were with others. In my opinion, I think that our feelings towards our fish being "lonely" has a lot to do with the reflection of our own need for companionship. I always think my bettas and my cat must be lonely and I should get them a "freind". I don't, and they still seem to be happy.

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I've been a bit intrigued about this myself, my redcap Caesar likes to stick close to other fish, when his tankmate Tux died he was ok for about 1 1/2 weeks and then he started to look a bit off colour, Tigger was in QT for that time, there were no real illness symptoms, he just seemed shyer and hid more, after 2 weeks I decided to just put Tigger in and see how they did. Miraculous recovery from Caesar, he's now back to his usual bubbly self, and it wasn't an illness or if it was it was a subtle one as they've now been together 1 1/2 months minimum and neither have shown any problems. I've never had goldfish on their own, they've at least had minnows for company, so Caesar was the first to have a tank completely to himself, and I definitely saw a character change which reverted back when he had company. I don't know if it's just him or generic to goldfish though! Plenty of people seem to have one and they do fine (until their owners get the fish bug and buy more!)

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Very interesting stuff! :) Yeah, I think we probably put alot of human emotion onto other animals. It's interesting to hear reports of behaviour changing depending on if they have a tank mate or not though!

I'm not liking the sound of fish having an agenda though - sounds dangerous! :P

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When I first got fish this last go around (as a more knowledgeable adult, not including fish as a child) I started with two. One died almost immediatley due to an unforeseen illness that he came home with, and thinking back it was probably extreme stress as I had gotten him right after the store recieved them. Anyhow, I was sad, and so was Spaz McBullington (the one of the two that survived just fine). Spaz was named after his behavior, he was a total spaz. Constantly dancing and shimmying and wiggling all over himself to get my attention and flirting. so i went to the lfs and got another fantail,. a calico this time, who was named Uno due to his single fantail fin. Uno was EXTREMLY shy and reserved. He was very nervous and jittery. Spaz took care of that though, and sat by him the whole time, until Uno came out of his shell. I had never seen Spaz so reserved! But now you would never know Uno was a shy guy, in fact he's one of the tank rulers, and trys, unsuccessfully to mate with everyone.

So I firmly believe that they are intuitive to each other and each others behaviors, and will accomodate them to some degree. And are at the very least thrive of social interacton. Uno who has recently been in quarentine seemed rather sad and depressed seperated from his buddies, but now that he's returned to his tank mates he's like a new fish!

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and trys, unsuccessfully to mate with everyone.

:rofl I'm not sure whether I feel sorry for the other fish for being 'hit on' or for Uno who never has any luck! hehe

I think you may be right about them thriving on the interaction - they may not desperately need it for a happy life, but it seems they certainly appreciate some company - even if it's from humans!

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One thing to, the older they get the more they get attached to other fish if they are raised with other fish. For example when I moved from CA to Oregon, I at one time had to separate Mongo from Tango, both fish were very sad, they were mopping in the tank and once in awhile look around for the other fish. Once they were placed back together again they were both active and happy again :)

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I think goldfish are more sociable than dogs and cats, really. Whenever I have to quarantine a fish, they all start searching and going behind nooks and crannies to find him. My first two fish would sleep together. Side by side. When they swam, they did circles around eachother.

But... when they start eating.... all sociable behavior changes LOL.

My biggest will flip others over to get to the food.

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I can let you guys know about goldfish behaviour as I've only got one GF but he is getting a friend shortly, the QT is nearly ready...so he could have a new friend in just over 2 weeks!

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Regular Member

One thing to, the older they get the more they get attached to other fish if they are raised with other fish. For example when I moved from CA to Oregon, I at one time had to separate Mongo from Tango, both fish were very sad, they were mopping in the tank and once in awhile look around for the other fish. Once they were placed back together again they were both active and happy again :)

That's how Stardew and Bj?rn were when I tried to pop Stardew's blister. I think they do best with buddies. Rowan and Lloyd were pretty much raised together and they get all tore up when they need to be seperated for any reason.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I've found pairs or trios to be best, especially with ryukins. Any bigger (even with a good 50L of water each) and I sometimes get a 'pecking order' happening (usually with the ryukins). Then again, they are quite aggressive, and what works for me may not work for another fish keeper.

But on the other hand, I have a ryukin of mine (Solar) who is notorious for ripping other fish to shreds once in a tank with them. When I first bought Luna (my very delicate butterfly telescope) she had a hard time competing for food with the other telescopes, as she was pretty much blind thanks to Australia post's way of handling livestock (They dropped her twice on the way from the van to my door, causing eye trauma, and I witnessed other fish being tossed between workers. I DO NOT recommend them. She had blood pooling in here telescopic eyes from trauma that I had to have the vet drain out to save her sight.).

While bleaching Solar's new 'solitary' tank I had bought to separate him from the other ryukins (second hand tank, it could have had god-knows what diseases lurking in it, so I bleached the shiz out of it), I was keeping him with the telescopes due to lack of space (not the ideal situation, but it was only an overnight stay). He would nudge Luna to food, and push the others away so she could eat. Between the two of them, they ended up out-competing everyone for food! No one else could get so much as a mouthful!

So, long story short, I put them both into the tank I had bought to solve my dilemma with Solar out competing his fellow ryukins. The two of them live in perfect harmony. He still 'guides' and nudges Luna to food (Despite her having most of her sight back) and got downright depressed when I took her to the vets for a checkup.

So from my experience goldfish like company, and they can be picky about it!

For anyone wondering, that's Luna and Solar in my little avatar-picture thing. Luna is (obviously) the white one, while Solar is gold. Their names are pretty fitting.

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i have only one goldfish in my years of raising them that was just so mean he had to be in a tank of his own and eventually I had to give him up. See this fish was was a Fancy tail fish, and at a young age was nice but something happened, and when i got a telescope later and place him with that fish, he just went up and sucked the eye out of that fish. i separated them, then later got an oranda and same thing happened. So in all goldfish do like to be together but some are just strange and mean :(

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i have only one goldfish in my years of raising them that was just so mean he had to be in a tank of his own and eventually I had to give him up. See this fish was was a Fancy tail fish, and at a young age was nice but something happened, and when i got a telescope later and place him with that fish, he just went up and sucked the eye out of that fish. i separated them, then later got an oranda and same thing happened. So in all goldfish do like to be together but some are just strange and mean :(

Holy heck! That fish must have one mouth to suck an eye off a telescope!

I love social fish. It makes housing a breeze. Your boy sounded like a nightmare!

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