best-schooling-aquarium-fish

Most Popular Schooling Aquarium Fish

Do you know you can add some color, distinction and various activities in your new aquarium? You can achieve this goal by simply choosing the right species of fish for your tank. The best way of doing this is by looking for a suitable species of schooling aquarium fish.

Believe it or not, there are more than a dozen different species that you can choose to have them in your aquarium. Mostly these type of fish is smaller in size, brightly colored and very attractive to look at. But one thing that surprises many aquarium hobbyists is that these little fascinating fish are extremely shy when in isolation. But when they are close to their own kind, the schooling aquarium fish unleash their true colors much to the delight of those observing their behavior.

In this article, I will going to look into the most popular and best schooling aquarium fish that you will find to be attractive when in your fish tank. Also, I will discuss the minimum tank size for each species, minimum school size you can have in your tank, the difficulty of keeping them, their adult size and general behavior. Read on to find out more about these amazing tiny schooling fish.

1. Neon Tetras

neon-tetras

Neon Tetras (wikipediaCC BY-SA 4.0)

Tetras are known to be non-aggressive and small in size. Under this group of schooling fish, you will come to a cross Neon Tetras which is actually a common variety. The good thing with these types of fish is that you can easily get them from any store dealing in aquarium fish species. Above all, they are affordable besides thriving when they are in schools. This means you should not think of keeping one or two of these fish. Instead, you can place them in a group of not less than five or more.

One of the most interesting facts about neon tetras is their neon stripe that gave them their name. These fish are recognized by their bright red and blue stripes running horizontally on their sides. No wonder a glance at them when swimming in the tank looks similar to a collection of red and blue lines moving back and forth.

Neon Tetras are very tiny and can grow up to 1.5 inches longer. These schooling aquarium fish are hardy omnivores and suitable for beginner aquarists. Due to their small sizes, you can keep them in a 10-gallon tank with plenty of live plants. Keep the water temperature in the tank at 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 1.5 inch (3.5 cm)

2. Rummy Nose Tetras

rummy-nose-tetras

Rummy Nose Tetras

The good thing about Rummy nose tetras is that they are easy to care just like neon species. This schooling fish is peaceful and unique in terms of appearance. Rummy nose tetras are thin with longer bodies than they are wide. You can easily identify them from their silver bodies, red faces as well as black and white striped tail fins.

Rummy nose tetras are native to South America (Brazil and Colombia) and thrive in warm waters with temperatures ranging between 74 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. As a matter of fact, they do well in slightly acidic water. These fish grow to about 2 inches long although they look somehow thinner.

When designing their tank, ensure that it almost resembles their natural habitat. You can achieve this feat by decorating it with a lot of rocks, live plants or anything they can hide in just in case. These magnificent schooling fish can eat different types of food including pellets, flakes and frozen brine among others. Most importantly, ensure that you keep at least seven or more of these fish in an aquarium that has a capacity of 20 gallons.

  • Minim tank size: 20+ gallon (80+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2.5 inch (6-7 cm)

3. Rosy Tetras

rosy-tetras

Rosy Tetras

Rosy tetras are a non-aggressive and beautiful schooling aquarium fish, characterized by variations of colors. You can find them in grades of red on their bodies with fins bearing black markings. These wonderful fish are not so demanding, meaning that they are a perfect choice for beginners. The fish can acclimate to different conditions but not in hard water.

Rosy tetras can grow to a typical size of 1.2 inches and a maximum size of 2 inches. That is why it is wise of you to keep not less than 5 Rosy tetras in a single tank with a capacity of 30 gallons. These fish thrive in warm water with temperatures ranging between 73 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH for their survival should range from 5.5 to 8. When preparing their aquariums, make sure that you include live plants, subdued areas, and darker substrates to imitate their natural habitat. Rosy tetras feed mostly on flakes, pellets, frozen or live foods.

  • Minim tank size: 20+ gallon (80+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

4. Emperor Tetras

emperor-tetras

Emperor Tetras (source)

Emperor tetras are another peaceful schooling aquarium fish that you cannot afford to miss them in your aquarium. This attractive and iridescent species is identified from its impressive reflective rainbow colors. The fish are hardy and need intermediate care in a mixed community freshwater tank. Emperor tetra is easy to find in addition to being relatively inexpensive.

A mature Emperor tetra is 2 inches with a lifespan of six years. These schooling fish can be kept in a group of not less than 5 in a tank with a capacity of 10 gallons or more. Being a native species to Colombia, Emperor tetras can thrive in warm water with temperatures ranging from 73 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH of the water should be 5.0 to 7-8 with the hardness of up to 25dGH.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

5. Silvertip Tetras

silvertip-tetras

Silvertip Tetras (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Silvertip tetras are also known as Hasemania nana and they are a schooling aquarium fish native to Brazil. This species of fish is semi-aggressive and you can identify it from its lively and colorful behavior. The fish grows to a length of 2 inches on average, making it easier to keep about 10 or more of them in a fish tank. The ideal fish tank for Silvertip tetras holds about 25 gallons of water with a temperature ranging from 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The recommended pH for the water is 6.0 to 8.0 with the hardness of 5 to 20dGH.

Even though they are peaceful, Silvertip tetras have a habit of being nippy, especially when kept alone. You can control this behavior by maintaining them in a group. Most importantly, his species of schooling fish is a good choice for beginners.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

6. Harlequin Rasboras

harlequin-rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras (source)

If you are a beginner or intermediate looking forward to having the right aquarium schooling fish, then Harlequin rasboras are the best for you. These fish are social and peaceful but likely to get nervous in the presence of larger fish. The fish do well in schools of about 6 to 8 individuals and can co-exist peacefully with other fish in a tank of any size.

Harlequin rasboras are identified from their silver and reddish-pink or blackish-blue triangular patch that can be seen on their back half of the body. Being top and mid dwellers, you can keep them in a tank with a capacity of 10 or more gallons. The water temperature should be 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

7. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

white-cloud-mountain-minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnows (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

For beginners, White cloud mountain minnows are a great choice for them. These top and mid dwellers are a perfect schooling fish species for many aquariums and they are more affordable than other fish. You can distinguish them from the rest by their splash red and silver color on their bodies.

White cloud mountain minnows are sociable and peaceful throughout. They can be kept in a 10-gallon tank where they are likely to display their fascinating schooling behavior. Most importantly, they prefer water temperatures ranging from 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 5.5 to 7.2. Given that they are hardy, White cloud mountain minnows are easy to keep and maintain.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

8. Zebra Danios

zebra-danios-zebrafish

Zebra Danios (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Zebra danios are meant for beginners and intermediate aquarium hobbyists. This is due to the fact that these schooling fish are hardy hence easy to maintain. Interestingly, they tend to swim at any level provided that they are in a shoal or school of five or even more. With a tank requirement of 20 or more gallons, the water temperature of 67 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and a pH of 6.5 to 7.2, you can easily take care of these schooling aquarium fish without any problem. When they reach their maturity, Zebra danios measure 2 inches in size.

One fascinating behavior of these fish is their peaceful nature although they have been found to show some aggressiveness towards other fish. Apart from that, you can easily identify them from their brightly colored horizontal stripes along with their bodies.  Their silver and blue-black stripes are known to bring contrast with most of the brighter aquarium schooling fish such as barbs and tetras.

  • Minim tank size: 20+ gallon (80+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2.5 inch (6-7 cm)

9. Rosy Barbs

rosy-barbs

Rosy Barbs (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rosy barbs are also known as Red barbs and are one of the most preferred schooling fish for aquarium hobbyists. This is because they are active and very peaceful in nature. The fish are easily identified by their bright red color (for males) and gold or silver color (for females) that seem to contrast with the background. Their bodies are torpedo-shaped, complete with a forked tail and one dorsal fin. In addition, they have black markings that are visible on their fins and sides.

Being a larger member of the barb species, rosy barbs are known to grow up to 6 inches in a 30-gallon tank with warm temperatures of 64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH for the same water is usually 5.5 to 6.5 with the hardness of up to 10 dGH. Rosy barbs are a good choice for both intermediate and beginner aquarium hobbyists.

  • Minim tank size: 30+ gallon (120+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Aggressive
  • Max adult size: 4 inch (10 cm)

10. Denison Barbs

denison-barbs

Denison Barbs (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denison barbs are a native to Southern India and are usually active all the time. Sadly, they are already an endangered species of fish due to overharvesting. If you want to include them in your aquarium, you will have to buy several. In this case, a large fish tank will be necessary in order to accommodate a school of them. The tank should have a capacity of 55 gallons to hold at least 20 Denison barbs. Water temperature in the tank should be 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH of 6.8 to 7.8 and hardness of 5 to 25 dGH to allow these mid-level fish to stay active throughout.

Denison barbs are omnivores by nature and this means they can eat most of the food provided to them. You can easily distinguish these fish from the rest by looking at their body structure. Denison barbs are long with torpedo-shaped bodies, hence the name “Red Lined Torpedo Barb”.

The entire body is silvery with a black line running lengthwise from tail to snout. The black line is contrasted by the conspicuous red line running above the black line and from the eye to the nose all the way to the midpoint of its body.  When they are mature, you will see a greenish color on their heads. Each fish can grow to about 6 inches and they are easy to maintain.

  • Minim tank size: 50+ gallon (200+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Intermediate
  • Behavior: Aggressive
  • Max adult size: 6 inch (15 cm)

11. Tiger Barbs

tiger-barbs

Tiger Barbs (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Tiger barbs are a wonderful addition to your aquarium because they are easy to maintain. This should tell you that they are a good choice for beginners and intermediate aquarium hobbyists alike. These beautiful freshwater schooling fish have a yellow, gold, red or orange background including black stripes that make it easy to identify them.

Even though they are semi-aggressive, tiger barbs are a perfect community fish species that enjoy swimming in schools. They can grow up to 2.75 inches in length and have a lifespan of up to 7 years. They thrive in large tanks of about 25 gallons and should be kept in groups of 6 or more.

  • Minim tank size: 20+ gallon (80+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Aggressive
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

12. Corydoras Catfish

corydoras-catfish

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras are a schooling aquarium fish native to South America. They can grow up to 5 inches long and they are a popular species of fish among aquarium hobbyists. In most cases, they are referred to as catfish but they aren’t true catfish. The name is derived from the barbels or whiskers found around their mouths.

Corydoras are social and non-aggressive fish that any beginner aquarist can find it easy to maintain. That being said, the right tank for them should have a capacity of 20 gallons to accommodate at least six or more at once. Ensure that the water temperature in the tank is 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 7.0.

  • Minim tank size: 10+ gallon (40+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 2 inch (5 cm)

13. Rainbowfish

rainbowfish

Rainbowfish (source)

As their name suggests, these schooling aquarium fish can be identified by their rainbow-like color starting from the head to the tail. Being a native to Papua New Guinea and Australia, Rainbowfish can thrive in freshwater conditions. This means, your tank should have a capacity of about 50 gallons with the right parameters. The water temperature must be 74 to 78 Fahrenheit with a pH of 7.0 to 8.0 and hardness of 5 to 20 dGH.

Rainbowfish is semi-aggressive but active and can get along well with similarly sized but non-aggressive fish. Since they are schooling fish, you can keep them in groups of 6 or more to make them active and social. A mature rainbowfish can measure up to 6 inches in length.

  • Minim tank size: 40+ gallon (150+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Intermediate
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 4 inch (10 cm)

14. Rainbow Shiners

rainbow-shiners

Rainbow Shiners (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rainbow shiners are known by their scientific name as Notropis chrosomus or commonly referred to as Alabama rainbow shiner. This schooling fish is a cold-water species with real tank fish potential.

You can identify the fish from their pinkish bodies comprising of a golden band running along the midline flank from the operculum all the way to the tail fin. The anal and dorsal fins have orange or red blotches that are visible from afar.

The fish can grow to a size of 3 inches maximum but usually tops-out 2 inches. They can be raised by beginners as well as intermediate aquarium hobbyists. Given that they are a freshwater fish, you should ensure that the conditions in the tank are favorable. First of all, the tank should be able to hold about 50 gallons to accommodate at least 10 or more rainbow shiners. Water temperature must be kept between 59 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and hardness of 10 to 20dGH.

  • Minim tank size: 40+ gallon (150+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Easy
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 3 inch (8 cm)

15. Ghost Catfish (Glass Catfish)

ghost-catfish

Ghost Catfish (wikipedia – CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ghost catfish goes by different names such as glass catfish or ghost fish. But their scientific name is Kryptopterus bicirrhis. These schooling fish are meant for intermediate levels as far as taking care of them is concerned. As such the setup tank should hold at least 50 gallons of water for at least 6 or more fish measuring an average of 4 inches. Water temperature should be maintained at 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 and water hardness of 15 to 25 dGH.

Ghost catfish are a peaceful or none aggressive schooling fish that can be kept in the same aquarium with other species of schooling but slow-moving aquarium fish. Being omnivorous, you can provide them with small live foods like brine shrimp, glass worms, blood worms and tubifex worms including most of the frozen foods.

  • Minim tank size: 50+ gallon (200+ liter)
  • Minim school size: 6
  • Difficulty of keeping: Moderate
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Max adult size: 5 inch (12 cm)

Conclusion

One of the most important points to be at your fingertips is that schooling fish prefer being in larger groups to look better. Most of them are kept in groups of 7 but 20 can be fascinating to look at because the schooling aquarium fish appreciate company the most.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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