Differences between shoaling and schooling fish.
Schooling fish are fish that swim in synchronized patterns and bunch up together to look fiercer or bigger so they don’t get eaten in the will or slim down their chances of getting eaten. A good example would be Tuna.
Shoaling fish are fish that swim closely together and in a similar direction. Fish in the Shoal may go out and scavenge for food as they please. A good example would be tetras. This being said these shoaling fish still need to have a certain amount of their GENUS/SPECIES. A common question is can I keep 3 neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) and 3 Black Phantom tetras (Megalamphodus megalopterus) together and they will form a nice shoal. The answer is NO they are way different. Just because they are a part of the same family does not mean they are like the same fish. Because those two fish have two completely different genus and species to them. Another misconception is black neon tetras (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) and neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) will shoal. Once again two completely different species and genus. So next time keep in mind when you are buying fish just because they both have the word tetra in their name does NOT mean they are the same thing. Corydoras are also shoaling fish. But there is a catch to these catfish. They CAN be kept with their different family members and be counted as shoal BUT keep in mind they will more likely shoal with the same Species. Corydoras is their Genus so the only thing that is different is their species. Keep in mind I’m not saying go out and buy 1 of each species till you get a shoal of five. That is NOT a good idea you should at least keep 2 of the same species at the BARE MINIMUM. For optimum happiness I would keep a group of six of the same species.
Shoaling Fish- Tetras, Barbs, Corydoras, Some sharks example Bala’s, Loaches, Hatchetfish, Danios, Minnows, Discus, Rainbowfish, and Rasboras. Keep in mind even those these fish are shoaling fish at the BARE MINIMUM these fish should be kept in groups of 5 or more. On a side note some of these fish may REQUIRE MORE due to their different species and genus.
Another thing Platies, Swordtails, and Mollies like to be with their species. They are a lot happier with more than one of them. Also some Cichlids like to be kept in pairs or in small shoals.
The key is do you research. Just because they are shoaling fish does not mean they are always community fish. Some can be aggressive like Tiger Barbs and Serpae Tetras.
Hopefully this gave you a better understanding of shoaling and schooling fish and helps you on your research being now you know what to look out for.
Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther. The Complete Encylopedia of Tropical Fish.The Netherlands: Rebo Punlishers,