5 Best Schooling Fish for Beginners
A large school of fish swimming together in harmony is so peaceful and inspiring. If you’re looking for a beautiful schooling fish to get started with, check out our top five species that are easy to care for and will look amazing in your aquarium.
1. Cardinal Tetras
Paracheirodon.xlrodi must be on our list due to the striking blue and red stripes that run down their bodies. The tetra, which measures in at 5 cm (5 inches) is a tight-knit schooling fish. They like to stay close to one another to protect from predators and forage together for food. They can withstand temperatures up to 80°F so they often go along with discus or Germanblue rams.
Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon Innesi) are very similar to cardinal and other tetras. Their stripes only go about half the length of their bodies, giving them the appearance of having blue heads and red tails. They are also smaller than and usually less expensive than cardinal Tetras. Different types of neon tetras are sometimes available. These include longfin and gold varieties. Our full care guide contains more information about cardinals and neon tetras.
You won’t be capable of removing your eyes from a large number of cardinal tetras if you have a tank full of greenery.
2. Rummy Nose Tetras
This very popular species is known as one of the tightest schooling fish in the aquarium hobby because the fish tend to all face the same direction while swimming together. The rummy nose tetra is a bright red fish with a black-and white striped tail. They can often be found hanging out in the middle to the top of your tank. An interesting fact is that the rummy nose tetra is sometimes known as a “canary in the mine” because it can alert you to potential problems in the aquarium. Check for bullying in your tank, improper water parameters, stress, or any other causes of rednitus.
There are many species that are often called “rummy nose Tetras,” including Hemigrammus Rhodostomus and Hemigrammus Bleheri.
3. Tetra with Silver Tip
You are looking for an unusual, but entertaining schooling fish? The silver tip tetra and Hasemania nana are two options. When you put your finger on the outside of the aquarium wall, these energetic tetras have the unique behavior of swarming toward your hand, begging for any food scraps you’re willing to part with. Although they are energetic, these tetras can only grow to about 2 inches (5cm) in length. Males have a rich yellow-orange hue while females are a lighter yellow color, and both have little, white-silver tips on all their fins.
If you want an interactive species that eagerly greets you every day, you can’t go wrong with the silver tip tetra.
4. Lambchop Rasbora
Trigonostigma epei is named after the triangular, black-colored patch on its body. This looks like a little porkchop or lambchop. Put that black lambchop on a bright orange body, and you’ve got a very eye-catching color pattern that stands out in a planted aquarium or community tank with other fish. Lambchop rasboras stay around 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, but if you’re looking for a slightly bigger fish that reaches twice the size, try the harlequin rasbora (or Trigonostigma heteromorpha). They come in both pinkish brown and purplish-black colors and have a distinct, larger triangle shape. You can read the full article on lambchop and harlequin rasas for details about their care.
Lambchop lambchop rasboras have a reputation for being gentle, easy-to-care for and their bright colors.
5. Ember Tetra
Hyphessobrycon amandae is an ideal choice if you are looking for a schooling fish that will fit in a nano-sized tank. The tiny fireball measures only 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length and has a bright red-orange color against a background of aquatic plants. Feed them tiny foods like crushed-up krill flakes and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food to keep them happy and healthy.
A school of ember tetras swimming in a planted aquarium is a jaw-dropping sight to behold.
As with all schooling fish, make sure to get a group of at least six to ten fish (all from the same species) for your aquarium. Because they are social creatures, they feel more at home when they are surrounded by their species. You can find our article about the top 5 best showpiece fish for small-to-medium-sized community tanks.