Can Goldfish Get Depressed When Other Dies? {What Are the Signs?}

Have you ever wondered if goldfish can feel sad when one of their tankmates dies? In this exploration, we delve into the question of whether goldfish can experience emotions like humans do.

Can goldfish get depressed when other dies? While goldfish may display changes in behavior when a companion passes away, understanding their emotional state is complex.

Join us as we unravel the fascinating world of goldfish and their responses to loss.

Can Goldfish Get Depressed When Other Dies?

Goldfish lack the complex brain structures necessary for experiencing emotions like humans, so it is unlikely they can get depressed when another goldfish dies.

However, goldfish are social animals and can form bonds with their companions. When a companion goldfish dies, the surviving goldfish may exhibit changes in behavior as a response to the loss of a social interaction or disturbance in their environment.

These changes can include:

  • decreased activity
  • loss of appetite
  • temporary disruptions in their normal behavior patterns

While these responses are not indicative of depression, it is important to provide proper care for the surviving goldfish.

What Are the Signs of a Goldfish Coping with the Loss of a Companion?

While goldfish cannot experience depression, they may exhibit behavioral changes when a companion goldfish dies. These changes can include decreased activity, loss of appetite, or temporary disruptions in their normal behavior patterns.

These responses are not indicative of depression but rather a natural reaction to the loss of a social interaction. The surviving goldfish may take time to adjust to the change in their social environment.

Providing a supportive environment with appropriate water conditions, a balanced diet, and a stimulating tank setup can help alleviate any stress and promote the overall well-being of the goldfish.

How Can I Support a Goldfish After the Death of Another Goldfish?

To support a goldfish after the death of a companion, provide a caring and nurturing environment. Ensure that the surviving goldfish has:

  • suitable water conditions
  • a balanced diet
  • a stimulating tank setup

Maintain consistency in routines and interactions to provide companionship and reassurance. It may take time for the goldfish to adjust to the loss, so patience is key.

Introducing new tankmates should be done gradually and with caution, considering factors such as compatibility and size. With proper care and attention, the surviving goldfish can adapt and thrive in their environment.

How Long Does It Take for a Goldfish to Recover After Losing a Companion?

The time it takes for a goldfish to recover after losing a companion can vary. Each goldfish is unique, and their adjustment period may differ.

Some goldfish may show signs of recovery and return to their normal behavior within:

  • a few days
  • weeks
  • 1-3 months

Patience is key during this process. Monitor their behavior closely and provide consistent care and companionship.

Can Separating Goldfish from a Dying Companion Help Prevent Stress?

If a goldfish is critically ill or dying, separating it from its companion may be necessary to prevent potential stress or aggression.

  1. The focus should be on providing the sick goldfish with appropriate care and a comfortable environment.
  2. Separation can minimize any further stress caused by interactions with other fish.
  3. Goldfish are social animals, and if the dying goldfish’s condition is not contagious or harmful to others, some owners may choose to keep them together during their final moments.

Each situation is unique, so assessing the health and well-being of all the fish involved is crucial when making decisions about separation.

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Can Introducing a New Goldfish Help A Lonely Goldfish?

Introducing a new goldfish as a companion to a single goldfish can help alleviate potential loneliness. Goldfish are social animals that thrive in the presence of others.

When introducing a new goldfish, it is important to consider factors such as:

  • compatibility
  • size
  • water parameters

The introduction should be done gradually, allowing the fish to acclimate and establish a hierarchy without causing stress or aggression.

Monitoring their interactions closely is crucial during this period. While a new goldfish can provide companionship, it is important to remember that the bond between goldfish may take time to develop, and the process of adjusting to a new tankmate may vary.

Can Changes in the Tank Setup Help a Goldfish Cope with the Loss of a Companion?

Making changes to the tank setup can help provide a stimulating environment for a goldfish coping with the loss of a companion.


  • new decorations
  • plants
  • rearrange existing elements

Your aim is to create a sense of novelty and engage the goldfish’s curiosity. Additionally, ensuring that the tank has:

  • plenty of hiding spots
  • appropriate lighting
  • and proper filtration

Implement any changes gradually to minimize stress and allow the goldfish time to adjust. Providing a comfortable and enriched environment can contribute to the goldfish’s overall mental and physical health.

How Do I Know if My Goldfish Is Unhappy?

Determining the happiness or unhappiness of a goldfish can be challenging since they lack facial expressions and vocalizations. There are several indicators you can observe to assess their well-being. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Behavioral Changes: Unhappy goldfish may exhibit changes in behavior. They might become lethargic, lose interest in activities, or spend excessive time hiding.
  2. Appetite Changes: A decrease in appetite or a sudden loss of interest in food can be a sign of unhappiness or underlying health issues.
  3. Erratic Swimming Patterns: If a goldfish constantly dashes around the tank, hits the walls, or shows signs of restlessness, it could indicate stress or unhappiness.
  4. Fin Clamping: When a goldfish’s fins are tightly pressed against its body, it may be a sign of discomfort or unhappiness.
  5. Color Changes: Goldfish with faded or dull coloration might be experiencing stress or health problems.
  6. Aggression or Bullying: Unhappy goldfish may exhibit aggressive behavior towards tankmates, causing harm or constantly chasing other fish.
  7. Gasping at the Surface: If a goldfish is frequently gasping for air at the water surface, it could indicate poor water quality or oxygenation issues, which can contribute to their unhappiness.

Should I Change the Water if a Fish Dies?

Yes, it is recommended to change the water in the tank if a fish dies. When a fish dies, its body starts to decompose, releasing harmful substances into the water such as ammonia, nitrite, and bacteria.

These substances can negatively impact the water quality and the health of the remaining fish. Changing the water helps remove these toxins and maintain a clean and healthy environment for the surviving fish.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for changing the water after a fish dies:

  1. Carefully remove the deceased fish from the tank using a net or container.
  2. Dispose of the fish properly, following local guidelines for animal remains.
  3. Use a siphon or aquarium vacuum to remove a portion of the water from the tank. Aim to remove about 25-50% of the total volume.
  4. While siphoning, gently vacuum the substrate to remove any waste or debris.
  5. Prepare fresh, dechlorinated water that matches the appropriate temperature and parameters for your goldfish.
  6. Slowly add the fresh water back into the tank, being mindful not to disturb the fish or tank decorations.
  7. Monitor the water parameters regularly and perform regular partial water changes to maintain good water quality.

Remember to clean any equipment used during the water change, such as the net or siphon, to prevent the spread of potential diseases or contaminants.


While goldfish may not experience emotions like humans, they can exhibit behavioral changes when faced with the loss of a tankmate. These changes may include decreased activity, loss of appetite, or altered swimming patterns.

Approach these observations with caution, as they can also be influenced by other factors such as water quality or health issues. By providing a suitable environment and attentive care, we can ensure the well-being of our goldfish companions.


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Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.