Can Crabs Live with Goldfish?

When a tank owner builds their community aquarium, they often want to introduce various species to create a real underwater environment. Rather than adding more fish, some tank owners choose snails or even crabs.

Sometimes, this can be a brilliant mix, although it may not be as clear if you have goldfish.

Can crabs live with goldfish? Unfortunately, crabs can’t live with goldfish—much of the reason being their different tank requirements. Goldfish like cooler temperatures for one, while crabs like their waters nearly ten degrees centigrade warmer, among other things.

Questions to Ask Before Adding Goldfish Companions

Before looking at the differences in the environment your goldfish require and those of crab, you need to ask a few questions before adding any tank mates for your goldfish.

  • Is my tank large enough?
  • Can any species be chased?
  • Will my goldfish eat any tank mates?
  • Are there any risks by adding others with my goldfish?

These are just a few things that are always asked for in any community aquarium.

What Fish Lives with Goldfish?

While goldfish are very easy for new tank owners to care for, finding a tank mate offers more of a challenge. You can find some things to live with goldfish, and there are some things to never keep in the same tank.

The best tank mate for goldfish is other goldfish, as they have the same tank requirements.

Goldfish will most often stay in waters with temperatures of 65° to 75° F (18–24-degree Celsius); besides this, they require a large enough tank to swim around. Also, it offers any tank mate the chance to keep away from your goldfish.

Here are a few examples of fish that can live with goldfish.

Bristlenose Pleco

It is small enough to fit in most tank sizes, although too large for your goldfish to see them as a meal. Plecos are fantastic algae eaters.

Loaches (Weather or Dojo)

Being a cold-water fish, either of these loaches can thrive in a similar environment as your goldfish. Make sure the tank is large enough, and you have sand or gravel for burrowing.

Rosy Barbs

You’ll find these fish grow to 6 inches and have the same water requirements as goldfish.  Rosy barbs like to stay with a few other fish to stop them from stressing. The ideal numbers of fish are six and above in a large tank.

Platy fish, Zebra Danios, and Banded Corydoras are other tank mates that can get along with goldfish.

Crab Care

You can see in this section the differences in tank environments that crabs like compared to goldfish. One thing you will notice, crabs are no more challenging to care for than many other fish species.

If you were to have freshwater crabs on their own, they require a 5-gallon tank as the bare minimum. If you add in fish, then the tank size would need to be considerably larger.

Water temperatures need to be between 72° to 82° Fahrenheit. Besides this, you’ll need to add rocks, sticks, and more to climb on and underneath.

Because your rock or branch will stick from the water’s surface, you’ll need a tank net to stop them from escaping. 

While goldfish are not suitable to be in the same tank as crabs, you shouldn’t add cichlids as these can become aggressive toward them. Likewise, crabs can take offence toward smaller fish and frogs.

Crabs are omnivores and need a mixed diet of meat and vegetables. Depending on the species, you could find it takes a while to find out their likes and dislikes.

Most often, you can feed them algae-based or protein-based pellets. On the meat side, they enjoy tiny brined fish, flies and bloodworms. You can offer them small pieces of steamed veggies as well.

Crab types you can find are:

Panther Crabs

These are bright orange and speckled in black. They are friendly yet need to be fed on time, or they become grumpy.

Gold Claw Crabs

You will find this crab species unique as it has one large semi-golden colored claw. Such a crab is a major escape artist, so don’t let the giant claw throw you off.

Thai Devil Crabs

The name may give you an impression different from their temperaments. The devil crabs are gentle and are an impressive addition.

Red Claw Crabs

You’ll find these are among the most popular freshwater crabs as they take little care. You’ll find these live up to five years and only require correct feeding. The only other thing they need is a space out of the water where they can roam.

Fiddler Crabs

Fiddlers are another popular option and can grow up to a couple of inches in size. They have a great temperament and are ideal tank mates to the right fish. Fiddler crabs also need dry areas and also the addition of aquarium salt to their water.

Best Goldfish Tank Mates

With all the above ruled out of being suitable tank mates for your goldfish, you have a couple of options if you are desperate to have a tank mate that has a shell.

Here you can see the recommended partners that can accompany your goldfish.

Cherry and Ghost Shrimp

One of the best solutions for your aquarium and to accompany goldfish are shrimp. You can see small Ghost shrimp often bought as food for some species of fish. In the tank, there is little chance of these shrimps picking a fight with your fish because of their small size.

Red Cherry shrimp are a fantastic addition to help keep your tank clean as they feed on algae while being a companion to your fish. It may be hard to become attached to these as they are rapid breeders and will serve as food for your goldfish.

Sometimes, you could find keeping the population in check, yet this can happen naturally as aquatic life goes on. All they require are some decent hiding places to get away from the fish and to reproduce.

Nerite Snails

Out of all the snails you can pick, be it Apple, Mystery, Rabbit, Ivory, or Japanese Trapdoor, the Nerite snails are the best solution.

Their size is perfect for stopping them from being eaten by the fish, and they come with decorative shells. Nerite snails are great algae eaters, thus help keep your tank clean.

You can add these along with the above shrimp and have both accompanying your goldfish.

One of the best reasons you can make these snails your best choice is their inability to reproduce in freshwater. With other species, you could find you are removing snails to keep your underwater environment in check.

They don’t require much care, and all you have to be sure of is the number of fish and tank mates you can hold in your aquarium.

What Size Tank Do I Need for Goldfish and Tank Mates?

The upper size limit doesn’t matter, yet the smaller your tank and you’ll find, you are limited to numbers of fish and tank mates.

For the smallest of numbers of goldfish and tank mates, you’ll need a 20-gallon tank minimum. You may think this seems too large, yet considering your goldfish might live for 20-years, a tank of this size presents room for them to grow.

You may not get the crabs you wanted, yet shrimp and snails are a great alternative and will be better for your tank.

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Adam Edwards
Hi, my name is Adam and I'm an aquarium enthusiast! I didn't discover the joys of being an 'aquarium fanatic' (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20's. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!