5 Best Schooling Fish for Beginners
It’s so peaceful and inspiring to see a large group of fish swimming in perfect harmony. 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 handle warmer temperatures above 80degF, so you often see them paired with discus or German blue 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. Neon tetras also don’t grow as large as and are usually cheaper than cardinal tetras. There are many varieties of neon tetras available, including longfin, gold and diamond head. You can find more information on neon tetras and cardinals in our care guide.
A large school of cardinal Tetras will be in a well-lit tank with plenty of greenery. You won’t want to look away.
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 is a variety of species known as “rummy nostril tetras,” like Hemigrammus, Hemigrammus, and Petitella georgiae.
3. Tetra 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. Despite their high energy level, they’re a relatively docile community fish that only gets to 2 inches (5 cm) 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.
The silver tip tetra is an interactive species that will greet you every day.
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 grow to about 1 inch (22.5 cm), but if you are looking for a fish that is twice as big, consider the Trigonostigma heteromorpha or Harlequin rasbora. They have a larger, more distinct triangle shape, and they come in both pinkish-brown and purplish-black varieties. Read our full article about both lambchop and harlequin rasboras for more details on their care requirements.
Lambchop Rasboras are well-known for their gentle nature, easy to care for, and bright colors.
5. Ember Tetra
If you’re searching for a smaller schooling fish that can go in a nano tank, consider the Hyphessobrycon amandae. This tiny ball of fire only gets 0.8 inch (2 cm) long and displays a brilliant red-orange color that pops against a background of live 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. Our article on the best 5 showpiece fish for small to medium-sized community tanks contains valuable information about choosing the right fish to compliment your new schooling fish.