10 Pumpkinseed Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species

Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more

Pumpkinseed Sunfish are great aquatic pets. These beautiful cold-water fish are very hardy and adaptable. You can house them in aquariums as well as in ponds. Their beautiful golden and green colors will bring beauty to any space you choose.

However, the Pumpkinseed isn’t the best community fish. It’s difficult to find suitable tank mates, as the Pumpkinseed Sunfish has very particular needs. But don’t abandon hope! Although this task is difficult, it’s not impossible!

Pumpkinseed Fish Profile

If you want, you can still create a beautiful aquarium with many different species. You just have to select the tank mates very carefully. Here’s what you should consider when looking for compatible species:

  • Size: This rule applies whenever trying to keep different species together. When it comes to community tanks, size matters! You want your fish to be as similar as possible in this regard. Small and large tank mates don’t mix well.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish can grow up to 4-10 inches long. It’s a huge range, going from tiny and up to almost one foot long. The tank mates you choose must have a similar body size. They shouldn’t be small enough to get eaten. But avoid fish large enough to represent a danger.

  • Temperament: Pumpkinseed Sunfish are semi-aggressive. They prey on and eat smaller fish. They’re also highly territorial and don’t get along well with other members of their species. They will try to chase and intimidate others, but they rarely get physically aggressive.

Their ideal tank mates should be calm and non-territorial. Peaceful tankmates are ideal. Pumpkinseed Sunfish get easily agitated around boisterous species. This includes both highly energetic and semi-aggressive fish. These can stress out your Sunfish.

  • Space requirements: Again, the Pumpkinseed is highly territorial. To keep them happy, you need to provide enough space in the aquarium.

Each Pumpkinseed Sunfish requires 30-75 gallons depending on size. Depending on the size of your tank, the community fish you choose can either fit in or crowd up the space.

  • Water parameters: This point is extremely important. Pumpkinseed Sunfish are a cold-water species. Their ideal water values include 40-72°F temperatures, 7.0-7.5 pH, and 10-15 dGH. The fish you choose must tolerate the same ranges to thrive alongside Sunfish.

Pumpkinseed Fish Tank Mates

To summarize, you’ll have to look for tank mates that are medium-sized and peaceful. They should have low space requirements (ideally). They should also tolerate lower temperatures and hard to moderately hard water. Here’s a list of the best fish fitting that description:

– Rosy Barbs

Rosy Barbs are excellent for community tanks. These fish are just the right size and their reddish-pink colors contribute to a breathtaking display. These fish are highly adaptable and feel at home in peaceful community tanks.

The best part is that they’re very hardy and non-demanding. This fish is a great choice for beginners and experienced fish-keepers alike!

  • Size: 6 inches

Rosy Barbs are among the larger Barb species, growing up to 6 inches in length. This puts them in the right range as a Pumpkinseed Sunfish tankmate.

Pumpkinseed fish can grow up to 10 inches in the wild. But in captivity, they generally grow up to 6 inches at most. So, these two species should be just about the same size.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

Rosy Barbs are tame and bother no one. As a shoaling species, they prefer the company of other Barbs. They spend most of their time in groups and ignore other fish in the aquarium.

This means they won’t stress out or intimidate Pumpkinseed fish. In such a scenario, both species will remain passive to one another. If you want a low-risk tank mate for a community aquarium, I’d give the Rosy Barb a chance.

  • Space requirements: 30 gallons for one school

This is one of the great things about Barbs. They have low space requirements. Each fish needs a minimum of just 5 gallons. You can fit a group of 5-6 Barbs in just 30 gallons worth of space. This leaves a lot of room for the territorial Sunfish.

  • Water parameters: 64-72°F, 6.0-8.0 pH, 5-19 dGH

Temperature and water hardness requirements are very important for the health of all species. And as you can see, both Barbs and Sunfish can tolerate similar values (at least partly).

Rosy Barbs can survive in both cooler and warmer water. They could easily adapt in a Pumpkinseed tank.

– Fancy Goldfish

What better cold-water tank mate than the humble Goldfish? This is a well-known cold-water species with very similar size, temperament, and space requirements to the Pumpkinseed Sunfish.

I should note that there are various strains of Fancy Goldfish out there. Here, I’m talking about Goldfish as a group. There might be minor variations between strains, but most characteristics apply across the board.

  • Size: 6 inches

In general, Fancy Goldfish reach about 6 inches in length. Some strains might be a little smaller or larger. The size might variate by 1 inch or less.

For the most part, Goldfish are the perfect size for Sunfish anywhere between 4-10 inches. Whatever the size of your Pumpkinseed fish, you can’t go wrong with a Goldfish tank mate.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

Fancy Goldfish are anything but hostile. This species is extremely calm and accepting around all peaceful tank mates. When dealing with bullies, Goldfish are at a disadvantage. The beautiful flowing fins make them pretty slow swimmers.

Their ideal tankmates must be similarly calm and non-aggressive. Avoid fish that bite or nip at fins. With enough space in the tank, Pumpkinseed Sunfish and Fancy Goldfish can get along well. Neither of the two species will seek to interact with the other. Under the right conditions, both fish keep to themselves and avoid confrontation.

  • Space requirements: 20 gallons

There’s a bit of variation depending on the strain and its size. But most Fancy Goldfish need a minimum of 20 gallons. That’s 20 gallons for one single fish. Double that if you’re planning to keep a pair.

  • Water parameters: 50-75°F, 6.5-7.5 pH, 4-12 dGH

Goldfish are the best-known cold-water fish in the aquarium hobby. It’s no surprise they can tolerate the same temperature ranges as Sunfish. On the other hand, Fancy Goldfish prefer soft water while Sunfish thrive in moderately hard water. Luckily, Goldfish can also adapt to hardness levels up to 12 dGH.

– Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Plecos might look freaky if you’re only used to colorful tropical fish. This species has a flattened body with upward-facing eyes and, most importantly, multiple little tentacles protruding from its head.

But despite its intimidating appearance, this fish is extremely chill. It’s well-behaved and suitable for most community tanks. Furthermore, the Bristlenose Pleco is a big algae eater. This is THE fish if you need to keep your aquarium clean.

  • Size: 4-5 inches

The Bristlenose Pleco is small to medium-sized. It only grows up to 5 inches at most. Still, even when compared to a 10-inch Sunfish, this species is large enough. Besides, the wide, flattened body and the numerous tentacles make this fish difficult to eat anyway.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

Bristlenose Plecos are perfect additions to a peaceful community tank. This easy-going, passive fish has only one interest in mind— food. It spends most of its time slowly traversing the bottom of the tank in search of little bits of plants and algae.

This fish doesn’t seek interaction and won’t bother any other species in the tank. Plus, their muted colors and sedentary nature helps them blend in seamlessly. The Pumpkinseed Sunfish won’t even notice any Plecos in the aquarium.

  • Space requirements: 30 gallons

This fish has medium space requirements. You’ll need a 30-gallon tank to keep just one Pleco. On the brighter side, you should know this fish isn’t very social. It doesn’t need to be kept in a pair or school. Still, if you want to add more Plecos, that’ll be 10 extra gallons for each additional fish.

  • Water parameters: 67-82°F, 5.7–7.8 pH, 2–20 dGH

Bristlenose Plecos aren’t considered cold-water fish. Their ideal temperature is closer to 75°F. However, they can also live healthily in temperatures as low as 67 °F.

It’s just important to acclimate them to these conditions very slowly. Apart from that, you can easily find a middle ground between the two species.

– Roseline Sharks

Freshwater Sharks make up a diverse group. Some are tiny, some are up to 2 feet long. Some are highly aggressive, others are mild-tempered. And some prefer warm water, while others can also survive in colder water. Well, the Rosaline Shark embodies the best traits you want in a compatible Sunfish tank mate.

  • Size: 6 inches

The Rosaline Shark reaches up to 6 inches at most. This is among the smallest species of freshwater aquarium sharks.

At this size, the Rosaline Shark is just right for most community tanks. It’s not any larger than your average Pumpkinseed fish, but neither too much smaller.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Rosaline Shark is the opposite of a troublemaker. This fish is very well-behaved around its tank mates as long as there’s enough room. It doesn’t act territorial, nor like a bully. Because of their friendly and calm nature, Rosaline Sharks get along well with all peaceful fish.

They might become irritated when in cramped conditions. In such instances, they might lash out at other fish. But they rarely cause any physical damage. This species is also highly sociable. It feels best when it lives in a group of at least six. That’s when it becomes most active, darting around the aquarium.

  • Space requirements: 55 gallons for one school

This shoaling species prefers living in groups of 6 or more. So, if you’re thinking about adopting a small group of fish, you’ll need at least 55 gallons. For each extra fish, you’ll need 5 additional gallons.

Considering the number of fish you can keep per gallon, you could consider this a low space-requirement species. It’s just that you need to keep a lot of fish.

  • Water parameters: 60–77°F, 6.5–7.8 pH, 5-25 dGH

As you can see, the Rosaline Shark is adaptable. It can thrive in a broad range of temperatures and hardness levels. And all of its ideal ranges coincide with those of Sunfish.

– Weather Loaches

This species is also known as the “Dojo Loach”. If you have enough room left and want an easy and interesting-looking fish, look no further! This exotic species is both hardy and low-maintenance.

Its non-demanding nature earned it the appreciation of both beginner and experienced fishkeepers. Its thin, elongated body and earthy colors also look amazing in a well-decorated tank.

  • Size: 6-12 inches

These Loaches have a wide range of body sizes, similar to Pumpkinseed Sunfish. When grown in captivity, most Loaches stop growing at around 6 inches. Depending on the tank size and diet, some can grow a lot larger. Wild Weather Loaches are typically closer to 12 inches.

To play it safe, I recommend keeping only similar-sized specimens together. If both your Loaches and Sunfish are around 4-6 inches, that’s a good match. I don’t recommend keeping a 4-inch Sunfish with a 12-inch Loach (for obvious reasons).

  • Temperament: Peaceful

Weather Loaches don’t look very expressive. But they have lovable personalities. These fish are curious, friendly, and non-aggressive. They’re also extremely playful, like most Loaches. They like swimming around, digging holes, and…ahem…redecorating the bottom of the aquarium.

They don’t mind the company of other peaceful fish. They’re very happy to share their space with others. If you hand-feed your fish, this Loach might even swim up to you and eat out of your hand. As you can see, the Weather Loach is as cool as a cucumber. Their temperament makes them perfect tank mates for Pumpkinseed Sunfish.

  • Space requirements: 55 gallons

The only bad part about this fish is its need for extra space. The Weather Loach is an average swimmer, but it likes moving constantly. High activity levels plus considerable body size equals lots of room needed.

You’ll have to provide at least 55 gallons; on top of the space you’ll need for Pumpkinseeds and other fish.

  • Water parameters: 65–75°F, 6.5–8.0 pH, 5–12 dGH

There’s enough overlap between the Sunfish and Loach’s water parameters. The Weather Loach can actually tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F, but higher is better. You can easily find some common values to accommodate both fish.

– Blue Gouramis

There are around 133 identified species of Gourami fish out there. As you can imagine, many of them are some variation of blue. Examples include the Powder Blue Gourami, Opaline Gourami, and the Three Spot Gourami.

Well, when I say “Blue Gourami”, I’m talking specifically about Trichogaster trichopterus. This is THE Blue Gourami you want in a Sunfish aquarium. As you’ll see in the profile below, this species meets the size, temperament, and water parameter criteria you need.

  • Size: 5-6 inches

Gouramis can measure anywhere from 1.5 to over 20 inches long. But most species are pretty similar in size, reaching around 4-5 inches. The Blue Gourami is pretty much in the middle, like most common Gourami species.

It’s not too tiny, but not too large. You won’t have to worry about this fish’s safety even if your Sunfish are on the larger side.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

Aggressive Gouramis are a rarity. So, you’re probably not surprised this species is a goody-two-shoes. Blue Gouramis are slow-swimming, passive fish. They have no reason to bother their tank mates. They aren’t particularly territorial either. The only exception is between male fish of the same species.

The competition gets heated when you have two or more male Blue Gouramis. You’ll want to keep all fish in mated pairs or keep more females than males. Apart from that, Gouramis are calm and unlikely to interact with other fish. Their soft movements and laid-back behavior also make them suitable tank mates for shy, easily-agitated species.

  • Space requirements: 20 gallons

Blue Gouramis have low space requirements. They’re slow and not exceedingly active, so this is to be expected.

You can even keep one Gourami in just 10 gallons worth of space. But if you have more room to spare, 20 gallons is best for one fish or a pair.

  • Water parameters: 72-82°F, 6.5–8.0 pH, 5-35 dGH

Blue Gouramis are a warm-water species. The lowest optimal temperature for them is 72°F. Coincidentally, that’s also the highest optimal value for Pumpkinseed Sunfish. It’s a thin line to walk.

But if you’re experienced enough, you can accommodate both species’ needs. On the bright side, Blue Gouramis are super adaptable to various pH and hardness levels.

– Giant Danios

“Giant” is a fitting adjective for this particular species. Compared to your average tiny Danio, this specimen can grow up to three times in length. Apart from its considerable size, this fish is very similar to other Danio species.

It has the same thin, elongated body and colorful stripes. This fish is also similarly hardy and beginner-friendly. Basically, this is just a plus-sized version of the regular Danios we know and love.

  • Size: 5-6 inches

This fish is not particularly large, at least when compared to other species. But remember, most common Danio strains reach 1.5, maybe 2 inches at most. In this context, it’s pretty obvious why this is called the “Giant” Danio.

Compared to most other Danios, there’s a huge size difference. Most other fish I’ve included on this list reach a similar 5–6-inch size. So, the Giant Danio is appropriately sized for its Sunfish tank mates.

  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Maybe semi-aggressive is a misnomer. The Giant Danio is pretty calm and passive around similar-sized fish. But they do have territorial tendencies. Giant Danios also enjoy bullying or preying on small and timid fish.

This shouldn’t be a problem for a 6-10 inch Sunfish though. If anything, both fish have very similar tempers. They should keep one another in check. If you’re still worried, you can minimize aggressive behaviors in these two species.

You have to provide enough space so both fish can establish their territories. Housing Giant Danios in a small group will also keep them busy. When around other members of their species, Danios pay less attention to other fish in the tank.

  • Space requirements: 40 gallons

The minimal tank size for Giant Danios is anywhere between 30-55 gallons. It all depends on how large of a school you want to keep.

The most important factor, however, is the tank measurements. Giant Danios need an aquarium that’s at least 3 feet long. Anything less than that will amplify their territorial behavior.

  • Water parameters: 72–76°F, 6.8–7.5 pH, 5-19 dGH

Like other warm-water species, the Giant Danios thrives in temperatures above 70°F. You can still keep both Danios and Sunfish in a 72°F aquarium. But you’ll need to be mindful about maintenance and monitoring water values.

– Empire Gudgeon

This is a less-discussed species. But I don’t see why. Empire Gudgeons are easy to care for and they look stunning. Their colorful and neatly-shaped fins create an interesting visual effect. The blood-orange, black, and white combo also reminds me of clownfish a lot. And did I mention this fish can adapt to cold water? What else could one ask for?

  • Size: 4.0-4.7 inches

The Empire Gudgeon isn’t as large as other fish on the list. Usually, it grows up to 4 inches at most. This is still a decent size for a Sunfish tankmate though.

As long as your Sunfish are under 10 inches long, I don’t see any reason to worry. Aquarium-kept Pumpkinseed fish rarely exceed 6 inches anyway.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

This species has a laid-back personality. Empire Gudgeons are calm, non-aggressive, and know to stay out of trouble. You won’t see them chasing or attacking other species. This Gudgeon fish acts exemplary around peaceful and similar-sized tankmates.

But they can prey on and eat smaller fish. Luckily, Pumpkinseed fish are safe in this regard. Keep this shoaling species in a small group of at least six fish. They’ll be too busy playing with each other to even acknowledge other fish in the tank.

  • Space requirements: 30 gallons

Empire Gudgeon fish are sociable and should be kept in a group. That’s when they’re the happiest and most energetic. That’s also when their colorful fins really leave an impression. But here comes the good part!

Despite having to adopt more fish, you can still do so with just 30 spare gallons. With a total of 30 gallons for six Gudgeons, that equals just 5 gallons per fish. This means the Empire Gudgeon is a very space-economical species.

  • Water parameters: 67-78°F, 6.5-8.0 pH, 6-20 dGH

The Empire Gudgeon isn’t a cold-water fish per se. However, this species can still adapt to temperatures under 70°F. On top of that, they have a wide range of tolerable pH and hardness levels. It shouldn’t be difficult to create suitable aquarium conditions for both species as there’s a lot of overlap.

– Electric Blue Acara

The Electric Blue Acara is rather unique in two ways. First, this species is man-made. This fish doesn’t occur in nature. It’s the result of hybrid breeding. Secondly, the Electric Blue Acara is a cichlid.

However, unlike most cichlid species, the Blue Acara is gentle and non-aggressive. So, you get a beautiful, shimmering fish with all the pros of a cichlid, but without the unfriendly attitude! Sign me up!

  • Size: 6-8 inches

The Electric Blue Acara is medium-sized like most cichlids. It also has the same stout and strong-looking body as other members in its family. Even the largest Sunfish stands no chance against it.

On average, both species are roughly the same size. So, neither of the two is in imminent danger of becoming a protein snack.

  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Electric Blue Acara isn’t anything like the other cichlids you’ve seen. This fish is calm, peaceful, and passive. It doesn’t act particularly territorial either. This sociable fish gets along well with all other peaceful fish, including other cichlids.

It won’t interact much with your Pumpkinseed fish. Electric Blue Acaras spend a lot of time hiding, exploring, or digging through the substrate. They’re very good at minding their own business.

  • Space requirements: 30 gallons

Electric Blue Acaras are very active and agile swimmers. You’ll need at least 30 gallons for one single fish. If you want to keep more Acaras, provide 15 gallons for each extra specimen. If you’re low on space, you can keep just one fish, as this isn’t a shoaling species.

  • Water parameters: 68–82°F, 6.0–7.5 pH, 6–20 dGH

Although the Electric Blue Acara is a tropical species, it can thrive in temperatures as low as 68°F. This isn’t particularly low, of course, but it’s enough to keep both the Acaras and Sunfish comfortable.

– Axolotls

Ok, so the Axolotl isn’t a fish. This is actually an amphibian, similar to salamanders and frogs. But with regards to its size, temperament, and water parameters, the quirky-looking Axolotl would make an excellent Pumpkinseed tankmate. Plus, you couldn’t find a more interesting and adorable addition for your community tank!

  • Size: 6-18 inches

This smiling, walking “fish” can grow up to 18 inches! That’s a considerable size. But depending on their living conditions, they can also stop growing earlier, once they reach 6-12 inches. I recommend keeping them separate until they reach adulthood.

An Axolotl sizes 12 inches and up would be too large. Keeping a full-grown Axolotl alongside a tiny 4-6 inch Sunfish is a pretty bad idea. But if you do find Axolotls around and under 8 inches, they make excellent tank mates for medium-sized fish.

  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Axolotls aren’t particularly feisty. They don’t pick on other tank mates or try to start fights. The problem is that they’re highly predatorial. Axolotls will hunt and eat anything small enough to fit in their mouth. This includes crustaceans, small fish, and even other smaller Axolotls!

You’ll have to provide lots of space and only house them with similarly-sized fish. This is the best way to prevent some unfortunate events. Under such conditions, Axolotls are more tempered and unlikely to hurt their tank mates.

  • Space requirements: 20 gallons

The bare minimum tank size for one Axolotl is 15-20 gallons. That’s not too bad, even if you don’t have a lot of room left. But if you want to keep a pair of Axolotls, you’ll need 55-75 gallons.

I don’t recommend keeping more than one specimen though. Axolotls get agitated when having to compete for food or territory.

  • Water parameters: 57-68°F, 7.0-7.6 pH, 7-14 dGH

Axolotls are not very demanding, especially because they don’t need a heater. This cold-water aquarium pet will feel at home next to their Pumpkinseed tankmates. Besides cold temperatures, both species also enjoy similar pH and hardness levels.


Pumpkinseed Sunfish aren’t a common choice for community tanks. Much of their lack of popularity has to do with their special needs. This fish thrives in low temperatures but also needs moderately hard water. On top of that, they should only be kept around medium-sized and mostly peaceful fish.

Believe it or not, this is a pretty difficult combo to find. But you’re not out of options. The fish I’ve included on this list meet all the necessary criteria to get along well with your Pumpkinseed fish. From Rosy Barbs to Loaches, and even to Axolotls, you can still choose from a variety of colorful and interesting species.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *