Do Fish Get Lonely? Can Fish Die From Loneliness?

A goldfish in a bowl on your kitchen top sounds like a great decorative addition. But is it a smart decision to keep one fish? With no partner, wouldn’t the fish get lonely and bored?

No, fish don’t really get lonely. Unlike humans, these animals don’t have very strong emotions or feelings. However, whether your fish will be happy alone or not depends on the breed. Some fish can get stressed if kept alone for too long, and stressed fish die very quickly.

I’ve accumulated a list for either category; fish that love to be in a crowded aquarium versus fish that love their personal space. Read all about it below!

Fish Breeds Most Likely to Feel Lonely

Although fish, in general, do not have a lot of emotions, some breeds are more likely to feel boredom than others. These breeds are naturally more social, and so, they like to live with others of their kind. Schooling fish specifically love living in groups. But there a few exceptions too.

The first in line is guppy fish. They aren’t schooling fish. Yet, they enjoy the company. Guppies are a great option if you want to keep multiple breeds in a tank. If not, at least have a pair of Guppies or else, the fish won’t survive very long.


Swordtails dislike being lonely. If you want your fish to breed, Swordtails are the perfect option. But if you want to avoid growing your fish family, go for females only. They can also adjust with other fish breeds in the same tank.

Another fish breed that could possibly die on loneliness is Discus. These fish need a familiar group around them to be able to live happily. The minimum number of Discus you must own is 6. Since they are pretty, I don’t think you should have an issue with keeping a group of Discuses in your aquarium.

Platies fish aren’t a schooling breed. Technically, they don’t require the company of other fish. However, their social nature makes it hard for them to survive alone.

Save Your Fish from Dying (Video)


Fish Breeds That Love Being Alone

Let’s start with the third most popular pet in America: Goldfish! There’s a reason why goldfish are usually kept alone inside a fishbowl. This reason is that they love enjoying all the space to themselves. With plants and gravels all to themselves, goldfish will not feel lonely at all.


We couldn’t really interview a goldfish to confirm this observation. However, these findings are based on statistics. Most goldfish that have lived the longest were kept alone. Moreover, they aren’t categorized as social fish due to their behavior. Hence the conclusion is that goldfish don’t feel left out.

Oscar fish can also survive alone. These fish are very adaptable. You can keep them in pairs, groups, or completely alone. They wouldn’t mind as long as they get a good environment and delicious food. However, if you want to keep Oscars with another breed, be very careful since they are predatory fish. There is a high possibility that Oscars will eat or hurt their tank mates if these other fish aren’t as big or dominating as Oscars themselves. This is why Oscar fish are ideal for keeping alone.

Moving on:

We have betta fish. They are quite well-known for being a self-sufficient breed. Betta fish are rather unique. Their needs and demands may be slightly different from most fish, but as for their social behavior, they don’t mind living alone. However, there are a fair few factors that need to be perfect for things to work out. The water conditions must be perfect. Water plants are a must. Lastly, the tank or whatever container you’re using should be spacious. If your Betta fish is still feeling stressed, it’s definitely something other than the fact that it’s living alone.

How to Manage a Peaceful Aquarium


As mentioned earlier, stressed fish can die. Loneliness isn’t the only possible factor that can stress out fish. An environment that isn’t well-suited to their needs and tank mates that are more dominating are some of the other reasons why fish can feel pressurized.

But you don’t need to worry. I have all the important tips and tricks that will help you keep your aquarium as peaceful as possible.


Keep the ratio of fish to the aquarium size perfect. Don’t keep one fish in a 20-gallon tank, and similarly, don’t cram 20 fish in a 10-gallon tank. The exact space needed depends on the breed and the size of the fish. Also, keep in mind that when you add in the gravel, plants, and decorations, the fish are left with lesser space.

The next rule is to never overdo anything. Do not go overboard with the decorations. Similarly, don’t overclean the aquarium. Do not overfeed your fish. Also, don’t over mix breeds in one tank. Only put together breeds that can live in harmony. Certain fish are bigger, and so, they dominate over the smaller fish. Predatory fish will eat or hurt most of the other breeds.

More importantly, make sure you don’t put together the wrong animals together. Just because two species belong to the marine life, it doesn’t mean they’ll live together peacefully. In fact, some fish may even eat other animals. They are, after all, carnivores who are designed to survive on fellow sea or freshwater creatures.

Other than that:

Keep a check on the aquarium’s environment. Sometimes, the oxygen levels can fall below the recommended percentage. Other times, algae can build-up on the aquarium’s surfaces. If there’s way too much uneaten food being left behind, debris and bacteria will gather inside the water. All these factors can make fish sad and sick.

How to Keep Your Fish Happy

Fish are actually very easy pets. They don’t need as much effort as other common pets do. For the most part, a peaceful living space will keep the fish happy. But, there is definitely more that you can do for your fish.

Most importantly:

Start with a well-balanced pH. Now, this may vary from breed to breed. You should research what is the ideal pH for your specific fish and maintain it accordingly.

Next, keep the temperature ideal as well. Once again, this depends on the type of fish in your tank. Generally, freshwater fish love water that is between 25 degrees Celcius and 27 degrees Celcius.

Next in line is healthy food. Offer your fish a mix of dry food, freeze-dried food, live food, and fresh food. All the while, maintain a good nutritional balance. Keep an eye out for bad ingredients to minimize the risk of health issues.


Avoid keeping tropical fish inside homes. These fish are meant to be in the wild. That is where they can breed. Keeping them indoors in man-made habitats may stress them out. Moreover, if you look at the bigger picture, every tropical fish that is stripped from the wild leads to the extinction of these fish breeds.

You can spot happy fish very easily. They’ll swim around the entire tank. You won’t spot a happy fish hiding behind a plant or laying loy. Satisfied fish will eat regularly too. You will also notice such fish expand their gills every now and then. This is the way they take in the oxygen from the water. Also, happier fish appear brighter. If this is the vibe of your aquarium, you’re doing everything right!

Related Questions

Do fish recognize their owners?

With queries out there like do fish have eyes, this question makes sense. Luckily, research has proven that fish do recognize human faces. Therefore, your fish will be well-aware of the familiar face that brings them food every day. Their ability for recognition is pretty accurate, so yes, fish do identify their owners.

Can fish hear you?

To put it shortly, yes, fish can hear you. The difference, however, is that the ears of fish are inside their body instead of outside. They basically have ear stones called otoliths that detect sound vibrations. This is how they hear. Other than that, their ears also help them stay balanced inside the water.

Do fish talk to each other?

This sounds strange, but seriously though, there’s a whole community of fish. They must be able to communicate, right? Well, yes, that’s absolutely right. Although not all fish have the ability to make sounds, those who do talk to each other. Their language comprises of grunts and growls. Of course, this isn’t a high degree of communication, but they can get the message across.

Do fish need darkness to sleep?

The entire system of light to darkness is what keeps the fish aware of the time. They realize it’s time to sleep when it gets dark and only wake up when the light shines bright. Moreover, their eating schedule can also be set with the help of the schedule of the light. Long story short, turning off the lights at night will create an environment similar to their wild habitat, and so, the fish will be able to sleep better. However, this doesn’t mean that fish cannot sleep if the lights are on.

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