Are Guppies Schooling Fish

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How many guppies in a 10-gallon tank
  • Are guppies aggressive
  • Minimum guppy school size
  • Will guppies school with neon tetras
Are Guppies Schooling Fish Intro Image

What you Need To Know

Guppies have to live in a group. Without it, they are prone to stress, which in return opens the door to disease.

This is one of the main reasons guppies can’t live in a bowl.

But that then begs the question;

Are guppies schooling fish?

And if so, what’s the minimum amount of fish you have to have in a tank?

Let’s dive in. 

Are Guppies Schooling Fish?

And What Are Schooling Fish Anyway?

Schooling is a behavior commonly observed in many fish species, where individuals swim together in a coordinated manner. 

schooling fish in the ocean

In the wild, it serves multiple purposes. 

First, it provides increased protection from predators, as grouping prevents predators from singling out an individual fish. 

Schooling fish have also been proven to help stabilize ecosystems. 

Then, it improves their foraging efficiency, by having multiple sets of each looking for food and allowing to group to overwhelm prey when it spots it.

And last, it enhances social interaction.

But while guppies are often seen in groups, their behavior differs from true schooling fish’s.

So Are Guppies Schooling Fish or Not?

Guppies are considered shoaling fish rather than true schooling fish.

If that last sentence probably made you understand the answer even less (just like like I did when I researched the topic) then I’ll explain;

Shoaling refers to a loose form of grouping where individuals prefer to be in close proximity to one another but do not swim in a tightly coordinated manner.

Here are some key points to understand about guppy behavior:

Group Preference

Story time

One of my very first tanks was a 20-gallon guppy tank.

while most of the fish had normal behavior, I did have a single guppy who enjoyed a small cave I had there more than the rest.

He claimed it as his own and attacked everyone who tried to come near it.

He would even attack the siphon pump when I would clean the tank. 

But unlike him, guppies naturally prefer to be in the presence of others.

They feel more secure and display more natural behaviors when they are in the company of their own kind.

Guppies are pretty small fish in the general scheme of things. 

That means that they make great prey for large fish. 

So in their natural waters of South America, they make terrific snacks for fish like the Crenicichla alta.

Keeping multiple guppies in the same aquarium is recommended to meet their social needs.

If not, your guppies may become stressed. 

If you are new to guppy care, stress is their arch-enemy. 

It is the bane of their existence. 

It opens the door to diseases and illness and can even kill your fish. 

Safety in Numbers

group of guppies

Guppies benefit from the presence of other individuals in terms of predator avoidance. 

Being in a group makes it more difficult for predators to single out and target a specific individual. 

We’ve mentioned earlier that guppies make a great snack and in their natural waters of the Amazon they become victims of predation.

Living in a group allows guppies to have more “eyes” scanning for possible threats and stay alert of greater surface area. 

The presence of other guppies provides a sense of security and can reduce stress. 

Individual Freedom

While guppies prefer to be in close proximity to one another, they still maintain a level of individual freedom.

Since guppies are not schooling fish that move in unison, they’ll swim independently within the shoal. 

They may swim together in loose formations or disperse throughout the aquarium.

That means that in the tank they will occupy the whole tank- and won’t group together in a certain area. 

That also means that the tank will look energetic and alive.

Guppy Social Hierarchy

Within a group of guppies, there is often a social hierarchy established.

Dominant individuals may display more territorial behaviors, while subordinate individuals may exhibit submissive behaviors.

This hierarchy can influence the interactions and dynamics within the group.

Are Guppies Aggressive Fish

Guppies are not aggressive in nature. 

Unlike Tiger Barbs, guppies are shoaling fish that are known to be on the peaceful side. 

If you are considering adding guppies to your current or new tank, make sure their potential tank mates aren’t fin nippers.

How Many Guppies In a 10-Gallon Tank?

You’ll be able to fit about 5-7 guppies in a 10-gallon tank. 

Bear in mind that if you plan on adding additional fish, like neon tetras, the number of guppies will have to come down.

The general rule of thumb is to have about 1 gallon of water per 1 inch of fish.

Guppies are between 1.5 to 2 inches, but in some case they can grow even larger.

Will Guppies School with Neon Tetras?

Guppies won’t school with neon tetras, but they make excellent tank mates.

Each species of fish has its own hierarchy within itself. 

In order for each to thrive, it has to be accompanied by its own group.

In other words- guppies have to have other guppies, and tetras have to have other tetras.  


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