Are Guppies Schooling Fish? If Yes, Why?

Guppies are known as schooling fish, and they can be seen schooling if observed correctly through an aquarium. Guppies usually begin to school together when threatened by other aggressive fishes.

Education is one of the ways through which they keep themselves safe. When they feel afraid and threatened, they would start schooling together and swim together in a particular direction. This forms a strong barrier and can intimidate their predators. These guppies can be seen schooling together in large groups in the wild.

However, they are less likely to school in tanks unless they feel threatened by other fish. Let’s talk more in-depth on the question: are guppies schooling fish?

Article Contents

Are Guppies Schooling Fish?

are guppies schooling fish
are guppies schooling fish?

Yes, guppies can be considered schooling fish. You will usually see them getting together in groups when chased or intimidated by other large fish in the tank. Schooling is one of the ways through which they save their lives from unwanted harm. In reality, guppies can also be known as shoaling fish.

Depending on the tank conditions and environment, they may act like a shoaling or a schooling fish. Whenever they are more likely to get attacked, they form large groups to create barriers.

However, they would naturally shoal together when they do not get threatened. It should be understood that guppies do not like to stay alone. They are active fish, and they love to be with other tank mates. So whenever you plan to buy this species, make sure you buy more than two. (With females being more than males).

Though it may seem that shoaling and schooling are the same thing of grouping together, there is a significant difference between the two.

Also, note that a few fish are good at both of these (such as guppies).

Beginner Must Know

If you are a beginner fish hobbyist, it might take a while to understand the difference.

That being said, it is not so difficult to tell whether fish in the tank are shoaling or schooling together. Only if you pay close attention to them.

Schooling fish usually get together in groups and stay organized and strict when they see predators approaching them. This is how they protect themselves from any possible attack.

If we look into this matter carefully, we understand that it is more difficult to attack a group of well-prepared fish than a lonely fish that does not know what to do or how to protect itself from enemies. Shoaling fish can also be seen swimming together in groups, which is a bit of programmed behavior.

Their innate sense acts as guidance to swim with others in large groups, with every guppy member being independent of looking for their food and the guppy fry but staying within the boundary of the shoal.

You can not see an organized pattern in shoaling fishes, and this is one of the most prominent differences between schooling and shoaling fish. They do not have to swim strictly or be organized because other fish do not get threatened.

But once they sense the danger of any kind, they would immediately begin to exhibit schooling behavior to keep themselves on the safe side.

It would help if you made sure that there are multiple guppies in the tank, or they might not feel safe with other tank members. Most guppies feel unhappy and stressed when they are alone.

Also, lonely guppies have a higher tendency to get a disease or catch an infection due to the weakening of their immunity. Keeping a group of three to six guppies in the aquarium would solve the problem of loneliness and stress in guppies.

Do Guppies Need A School?

do guppies need a school
do guppies need a school

Guppies are some of the most popular and colorful fishes kept as pets. Their small size makes them ideal for many hobbyists. People often call them ” million fish ” because of the wide variety of colors they exhibit. They are also pretty easy to care for and do not need much maintenance.

Guppies are schooling fish, and they need a school for their survival and protection. This is especially true when there are chances of a threat or attack from other aggressive fish in the tank. Schooling would ensure that they stay protected from these fishes.

Once they feel that they are likely to be attacked, they would naturally form a well-organized school and swim together without leaving their groups. This unity makes them robust and can even threaten a predator.

What to look when getting guppies?

If you plan to buy a single guppy to keep it in a community tank, you should immediately change your decision, or you may regret it later. This is because loneliness is the most dangerous threat to guppies.

They can not exhibit their natural schooling behavior and feel afraid of other aggressive species. This can increase the stress levels in guppies and can even lead to several diseases and infections.

Hence it is recommended that you should buy at least three guppies. The rule is that you need to provide one gallon of water for every inch of guppies.

Also, note that they are live breeders and would reproduce very often, which means you would soon see a lot of guppies in the tank.

And remember that guppies do not attend school with other fish species, and they even form a school with other guppy breeds that do not look like them. However, they can surely stay with other fish due to their calm and friendly nature.

Schooling Vs. Shoaling Fish

Guppies can school as well as shoal together. But do you know the exact difference between the two? Let us find out the difference in this post.

If you are about to buy a fish for the first time, it may take a while for you to understand the difference between the two terms. However, you can still guess whether they are shoaling or schooling by looking at them carefully.

Schooling Fish

Schooling fish are the breeds of fish that usually get together to form a large group, and they swim together in a well-organized group, especially when chased by other predators in the tank. This is how they secure themselves from a possible attack. If you look at this behavior carefully, you will get the point.

Predators would naturally attack the guppies or any other fish when they are lonely and unable to defend themselves. But when there is a large group of fish, they look powerful in unity and may even threaten the most fearsome predators.

Shoaling Fish

Shoaling fish also swim together in large groups, but this is a more programmed behavior. Most of the shoaling fishes have an innate sense that instructs them to swim with one another. This leads to the formation of a large group, and every fish would be independent to care for its fry or look for its food without crossing the boundary of the shoal.

However, fishes do not swim in an organized way when they shoal, which makes a clear difference between shoaling and schooling. But this does not mean in any way that they can not protect themselves from other aggressive fish when they shoal. Once they sense any danger, they would immediately form a schooling group to save their lives.

Do Guppies School With Other Species Of Fish?

No, guppies do not form a school with other fish species, and they do not even school with different varieties of guppies that do not look like them.

The schooling behavior is a way to protect themselves from any harmful attack of the aggressive fishes. These guppies form bigger groups and move in an organized manner to stay protected.

They can also exhibit shoaling behavior when they do not feel threatened by other predators. A significant difference between shoaling and school is that shoaling guppies do not follow any organized manner, but schooling guppies swim only in a strictly organized way.

How Many Guppies To Form A School?

Schooling is one of the best ways using which guppies can stay safe and protected from possible dangers and threats of predators. These guppies get together in big and organized groups and swim together wherever they go.

But this is not possible when there are only one or two guppies in the fish tank. Lonely guppies are more likely to get attacked and threatened by large, aggressive fishes and are more susceptible to catching infections or diseases.

Therefore, you need to buy at least four to six guppies to help them exhibit schooling behavior and protect themselves in the community tank.


Guppies know the best way to protect themselves from harmful attacks of predators. They usually form large groups and start moving in an organized way to keep all their enemies away.

This schooling behavior is one of its kind and is more commonly seen in the wild, where more than hundreds of guppies live together. Apart from schooling, they also exhibit shoaling behavior.

One significant difference between shoaling and schooling is that guppies swim together without following any organized pattern when they shoal, and there is no possibility of a threat. In contrast, they stay organized when they form a school.

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