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Why do fish school together?

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What are groups of fish called? How big is a school of fish? Who are the leaders in a school of fish? Why do fish school together? What advantage does schooling provide? Are there any disadvantages to schooling? How does schooling help fish find food?

Learn the answers to these questions with Monterey Bay Aquarium senior aquarist Ray and these Pacific sardines:

“Staying together is their way of life. Like synchronized swimmers, sardines in a school move together as one. This communal lifestyle is good for these small fish. When predators come near, there’s safety in numbers. And when it’s time to reproduce, there’s no need to seek out mates β€” plenty are close at hand.”

bait ball
Though bait balls like the one above can attract predators, for the most part, schools are a smart move. Ray explains:

“Many species of fish tend to school together, so then they have each other. If they’re out in the endless oceans, there’s no rocks or kelp to hide behind. All they have is each other. And so if they can stick together, whether they’re sparsely distributed or very tightly packed, they have a higher success of staying alive.”


Watch these related swarm videos next:
β€’Β A school of juvenile striped eel catfish (Plotosus Lineatus)
β€’Β Secrets of Schooling: The collective behavior of fish
β€’ The Gathering Swarms: Sardine Run off South Africa’s coast
β€’Β Underwater Bigeye trevally fish tornado in Baja

Plus, another take from Hakai: Why do fish school?


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