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Author Topic: The number of fish required to make a "school"  (Read 6545 times)
Karen
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« on: August 14, 2011, 06:48:02 AM »

Lets fire up a new topic.  Where did the ridiculous idea that '6 fish of the same species equals a school' come from?

Schools in the wild range from hundreds of fish (for the the bigger species) to hundreds of thousands of fish (for smaller species).  So who decided that 6 was close enough to 60,000?


Here is a study that looked hard at behaviors in neon tetras and white cloud minnows that were housed singly, in pairs, 5's or tens.  I have to laugh at the results.  No question that those housed in 10's exhibited the healthiest behaviors and were best socially adapted so they overwhelmingly recommended that all hobiests house these species in groups of at least 10. Had they tested 25 would they recommend that instead?  They cannot conclusively say that 10 is best, but they can conclusively say that the quality of life and most naturalistic behaviors were seen as the numbers of fish in the school were increased.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31952465/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.Tkez32H_yx4

Anyone else have an thought, idea, or perhaps some research to share?
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redfan
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 07:06:53 AM »

Me thinks Karen has a bee in her bonnet after the other comment re schooling fish in another topic LOL

I personally have no idea where this magic "6" comes from tbh, maybe it was created by "experts" or maybe it came from LFS's to increase sales.  As you say there does not seem to be any validity to the rule.

What I will say is that you see a vast difference taking 2 or 3 tetra's (for example) to 6+ However as you say it's still ridiculously low compared to the numbers they exist within the wild. 

I guess one thing to bear in mind though is that with many common LFS schooling fish is that they are generally tank bred so will have never known numbers greater than perhaps 30-50 (possibly several hundred if from a dedicated farm) in a single area (tank).  Not sure that really makes any difference tbh.  All I can say on the topic is to just get as many as is safe to do so for you own tank.

I myself have lots of room available in my 65G for more tetras and intend to bring my individual school quantities up.  Though atm they do all shoal together very well (cardinals, black neons, glass bloodfins & Lemon).

Watching this topic with interest Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2011, 07:43:54 AM »

I agree that the more fish the better, but as a very minimum number, no less than six. If it were me, in my future 5000gal Bornean tank I'm going to have a proper school of clown loaches, it'll be more of a shoal lol! I wonder how many I can get in this tank...... 50?
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2011, 08:06:04 AM »

5000 gal.... Id do 100 clown loaces....  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 08:14:09 AM »

I remember when I started this hobby and got my first 4 Rummy Nose Tetras that three swam together, where as the fourth was somewhere else doing his own thing. Once we had 8 there seemed to be a better group-mentality, and when we upped the number to 14 (30 gallon) it was very obvious that they felt a lot more comfortable. Sadly I lost 4 to ich (the new ones I'd added must have been infected, and I hadn't quarantined) so now I have 10. I've got now 3 platy in there as well and am afraid that if I were to add more Rummy Nose Tetras that it would be too crowded. I may give the platy (or platies, don't know how to spell the plural of platy) away at some point so I can up the school once more.
I find not only seem the fish be more comfortable in a larger group they look amazing!

I have learned about the "magic number 6" right here on this forum. I thought some expert came up with this number, but I can see how ridiculous it actually looks when you compare a "school" of 6 to a school of 60 000.  Smiley  11579
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Kim
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 08:27:46 AM »

I would imagine that wherever it came from the person was aware that truth is, "the more the better" and chose 6 as an accomodation to club hobbyists and their tank capacities?
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Pat Mary
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 08:38:46 AM »

I think the number "six" came to being with stocking questions for 10 gallon tanks.  People wanted a school of fish but didn't have room with everything else that they kept in there so "six" became some kind of semblance of a school. This is just my opinion, though.
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 09:30:48 AM »

In my experience the magic number has a bigger impact on aggression than schooling or shoaling.

Like Pat mentioned, tank size plays an important part too.  For example, I have 8 danio sp. Red Fin in a 10 gallon tank.  They just mill about all over the tank, never out of sight of each other, they can't actually get that far apart.  I also have 15 of these fish in a 55 gallon, and they typically move in a group, rarely are they spaced more than 8 to 10 inches away from each other.  I would be willing to bet, that if I increased their numbers, at some point they would behave like the group in the 10 gallon tank.

Dennis
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 01:18:37 PM »

  Everybody seems to understand the reasoning behind the magic "6", but I believe Kim stated it the most succinctly.
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 02:44:04 PM »

I agree with Karen that the bigger the school you can have the better and I am all for species tank as well. I have seen the difference in my 20 long that I turned into a neon only tank which I started with 19.  I recently upgraded to a 40 breeder for my tiger barb mixed tropical species tank and upgraded the neons to the 30 breeder and added 20 more - this tank is absolutely gorgeous - all tall flowing plants and 30 neons swimming around in a massive school. I have also seen a difference in behavior in my corys when I have bumped them up to schools  of 10 or more.
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Karen
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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2011, 08:38:36 PM »

The smallest schools I have are 14 fish.  I have had schools as large as 50-60 fish.  There is no comparison.

Anyone who things 6 fish is a school has never taken the time to personally set up a tank with 30+ of the same species.
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Kim
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2011, 08:54:25 PM »

Karen, I don't think anyone who knows fish thinks that 6 is a school. As we said, it was a number put forth by hobbyists in the early years of the hobby and it's still put out there as a minimum for a small tank, it's better than 1 isn't it? Smiley
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Karen
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2011, 08:57:45 PM »

Ohh gosh yes!  But for the littler species I would really push for double that.



(Says the lady with 3 pacu, and yes- they school)
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Kim
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2011, 09:01:29 PM »

lol, and I don't disagree. I'd rather see someone skip the gourami and the pleco in their 20g tank and increase their schools any day..

another problem that I encountered that speaks to the small numbers, was that in the club I used to be active in, a lot of time the rarer species were available in minimal numbers. The hope was that you got 6 and managed to breed a school.
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2011, 09:31:11 PM »

ok ok ok ok i came up with the magic number of six---after 8 beers it seemed like a good compromise---but I agree the more the merrier if the tank space will accomodate.
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2011, 02:33:09 AM »

ok ok ok ok i came up with the magic number of six---after 8 beers it seemed like a good compromise---but I agree the more the merrier if the tank space will accomodate.


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Kim
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2011, 06:35:45 AM »

I figured it had to be you Pap but I was gonna keep your secret! :D
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Leezard
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« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2011, 10:17:30 AM »

HAH!  SP! 

 
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« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2011, 11:03:05 AM »

Six? I heard never keep Silver Dollars in groups under THREE. Now I feel like a nickle-plated SOB for having four. The two big myleus schomburgkii seem out of their element and I'm reluctant to give them to a store. They could wind up in a tank considerably smaller than 90 gallons.

Should these fish even be in the hobby? How big of a tank would you need to accommodate a true blue school of Silver Dollars?
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