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In aquaculture, both ornamental and edible fish can be raised depending on the practitioner’s interest. One of the most common choices for edible freshwater fish is tilapia because of its mild-tasting flesh. Meanwhile, goldfish are considered the “go-to” species for hobbyists due to its display value. Since the two fish species are famous, some fishkeepers are enthusiastic about raising them in the same tank. But is this a good idea? Is there a possibility that tilapia will eat goldfish or attack them, given their aggressive nature?
Although there is limited literature proving that tilapia will eat goldfish if grown in the same environment, most anecdotal records claim that the two species should be raised separately. This is because of tilapia’s aggressive behavior, especially during their spawning season.
In this article, we will discuss tilapia’s social behavior and why it is not recommended to coexist with goldfish in the same tank. We will also look into different ways on how to reduce tilapia aggression.
Understanding tilapia’s social behavior
Tilapia is a known tropical fish that thrives in varying living conditions. However, it also possesses a particular behavior that some aquarists find bothersome: its aggressive nature caused by population and environmental factors.
Although aggression is common to a lot of fish, if it causes fish injury and mortality, it already needs to be addressed immediately. Tilapia is omnivorous, so there is a higher chance that they will attack if they are not appropriately managed, especially in tank culture. Ensuring that they are given enough food will help lessen their aggression towards other fish.
Will tilapia eat goldfish in the same tank?
Goldfish is a common species used by beginners as their introduction to fishkeeping. They are one of the first fish to be domesticated since 800 ad. Like other fish, they exhibit continuous growth until the day they die since they are indeterminate growers. Their size does not depend on their tank size but the water quality and fish management practices of the grower.
Also, the goldfish color is not always gold but gray-green. Because of mutations, we now see goldfish varieties with red, orange, and yellow pigments. These are commonly fantails, lion heads, ryukins, and comets that are sold in most fish shops.
Because it is visually pleasing and quite easy to grow, some practitioners are interested in growing goldfish alongside tilapia in the same tank. Tilapia are also good at surviving different environmental conditions, so the myth is that they make up a good pair.
If you read various anecdotal accounts of practitioners, they claim that they did not have any problems raising goldfish and tilapia together. There is no written evidence that tilapia will eat goldfish if grown in the same tanks. However, if you would not like to risk your goldfish’s lives, it would be better to keep them away from tilapia. Here are some reasons why:
- Since tilapia is a cichlid, they have a firm pecking order. If the fish grown alongside tilapia is not familiar with this order, there might be a problem.
- Tilapia are omnivores so they require a lot of protein, especially when they are younger. If not fed correctly, they might resort to aggression towards other fish.
Another standard solution is to make sure that the goldfish are larger than the tilapia when you put them in the tank. This will work for some time. However, if the tilapia starts outgrowing the goldfish, it is time to harvest the tilapia or put them in a separate container.
Reducing tilapia aggression
Aggressive fish like tilapia will most likely establish their territory and fight for food. This is mainly because of environmental factors, but many studies also attribute this to the genetic makeup of tilapia. There are several ways to alleviate the aggressiveness of tilapia, which can also be applied to other fish species. These include choosing the fish with a similar temperament to raise with them, maintaining correct feeding practices, providing enough horizontal space for the fish, and avoiding tank overcrowding. All of these are discussed in detail below.
Choose fish with a similar size and behavior
When choosing the fish to stock with tilapia, you should do thorough research to avoid mortalities. If you decided to put fish, which only reaches a maximum size of four inches, there is a probability that tilapia will bully them once they become aggressive.
It is also important to choose species with the same temperament as tilapia so they can fend for themselves if they get attacked. Chances are they will even get along well, and no one will get picked on.
Maintain correct feeding practices
Feeding is probably one of the most crucial factors that affect aggression not only for tilapia but also for other fish. Ensuring that they are given food two to three times a day will go a long way in reducing the chances of them attacking other fish. However, this does not mean that you will overfeed your tilapia.
Provide enough horizontal space
Giving adequate horizontal space to tilapia is also necessary. Since they do not have to fight for territory and can move freely, their aggression towards the other fish will be lessened, and they will be able to coexist well. For those who are raising tilapia in an aquarium, there are many available tanks from Amazon that will give your fish enough horizontal space.
Avoid tank overcrowding
Since tilapia is a cichlid, it is recommended that it is overcrowded with other cichlids to avoid aggression. However, if tilapia is raised with goldfish and other fish of small varieties, you should be careful of the stocking density because it can lead to aggressiveness. Tilapia are bullies, and not being able to swim freely might trigger this behavior resulting in fish injuries.
Tilapia and goldfish top the list of the most common edible and ornamental fish. However, practitioners should be cautious in raising them in the same tank because tilapia is known for its aggressive behavior. Tilapia may attack the goldfish if not fed well and if not given enough space to move around. Although there are no written pieces of evidence that tilapia will eat goldfish if put in the same tank, many anecdotal records state that it is better to grow them separately to lessen the chances of fish mortality.