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Do Goldfish Get Lonely Living Alone? Facts & FAQs

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

veiltail goldfish

So you have a fabulous goldfish and all looks well, but boy does he look lonely in that fish tank. You might think that you should get your goldfish a companion, which is never a bad idea, but is it necessary? Do goldfish get lonely? Although there is no so-called scientific proof either way, goldfish are not like humans and no, goldfish really don’t get lonely. Let’s take a closer look at this topic right now.


Can A Goldfish Live Alone?

Yes, goldfish can absolutely live alone. In the wild, the fish tend to be quite solitary. Now, although you usually won’t find goldfish living alone, they are not schooling animals. Yes, in the wild, where you find one goldfish, chances are you’ll find another few close by. However, they do not display any apparent need to be part t of a community.

Do goldfish need to be in pairs? Once again, the answer here is no; goldfish do not need to live in pairs. It certainly wouldn’t cause any harm to keep two goldfish together since they are usually fairly docile and peaceful, but it’s also not necessary.

small goldfish in goldfish bowl
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Do Goldfish Get Bored?

Seeing as fish really cannot talk, there is no scientific evidence one way or another, and it is hard to tell whether or not goldfish get bored. However, just as it appears as though they don’t get lonely, they do not get bored. Now, it has been proven that the 3-second memory span thing is a total myth. Goldfish can remember for much longer than 3 seconds, up to several months in fact.

However, just because they have a decent memory for a fish does not mean that they can get bored. In all reality, it’s very likely that goldfish do not suffer from boredom, quite convenient actually!

Do Goldfish Get Depressed?

Although there is no scientific proof in regards to this, it is thought that fish can technically be sad, but we aren’t sure if we would take it so far as to call it depression. Yes, a fish can be unhappy if you don’t feed it properly or if you are keeping it in a bare tank that doesn’t replicate its environment. A fish may be sad if there is a lack of movement, if it’s not eating right, or if it sleeps a lot, not unlike depression symptoms in human beings.

That said, sadness in fish is caused by a lack of care and a bad environment, not due to boredom or loneliness. As far as brain chemistry and psychological depression go, the topic is totally unresearched.

ryukin goldfish
Image Credit: Ek Ing, Shutterstock

divider1- goldfish

How To Make Your Goldfish Happy

Making a goldfish happy is very easy, as is also the case for any other kind of fish you might keep at home in an aquarium. They are simple creatures. As long as you feed them right, provide high-quality food, maintain ideal water conditions, and add plants, rocks, caves, and the right substrate, your goldfish should be happy as a clam.

How Can You Tell If Your Goldfish Is Happy?

If your goldfish is happy, it should be a fairly active swimmer, it should respond to you if you come close, it should sleep normal amounts, and it should be more than happy to eat its food. Remember folks, these are simple little fish and they aren’t going to tell you if they are happy or sad.

How Do I Entertain My Goldfish?

Make sure to provide your goldfish with a smooth substrate, as they do like to dig sometimes, which as far as we are concerned is a form of entertainment. Inserting lots of plants, hollow driftwood, and rock caves are also good ways to keep your goldfish occupied, just some stuff they can explore (more on decorations here).

Although goldfish are not schooling animals, and although goldfish don’t need to live in pairs, a companion may provide some entertainment.

Goldfish in aquarium with green plants
Image Credit: Skumer, Shutterstock

On a side note: many people claim that it is possible to play with goldfish, although this is doubtful at best. Sure, you can get goldfish to eat out of your hand and even to follow food and swim through a hoop, whether this is due to your fish wanting to play or just wanting to eat is totally up in the air.

If you're new to the world of goldfish or are an experienced goldfish keeper that loves to learn more, we recommend you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon.

From diagnosing illnesses and providing correct treatments to ensuring your goldies are happy with their setup and your maintenance, this book brings our blog to life in color and will help you to be the best goldfishkeeper you can be. 

Do Goldfish Like Music?

Now, whether or not goldfish like music is not known. We would have to be able to talk to goldfish to figure that one out. However, what has been proven, quite recently actually, is that goldfish can distinguish between one piece of music and another, even going so far as to be able to distinguish between composers.

Moreover, it has been shown that fish can distinguish musical properties as well, such as pitch and timber. That said, whether your goldfish prefers Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, or Metallica, is something you’ll have to judge for yourself.



The bottom line is that as long as you provide your goldfish with a large space, good clean water, and lots of plants and tank decorations, it should be perfectly happy. To reiterate, no, goldfish do not get bored or lonely, which is a definite benefit.

Featured Image Credit: Pixy

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