How and why do fish school? First off, an aggregation of fish is when a bunch of fishes are together. Shoaling is when a group of fish come together for social reasons. It is more specifically called schooling when the fish also move together in coordination. Half of all fishes shoal at one point during their lives, and one quarter of fishes shoal their whole lives.
There are a multitude of reasons why fish school. These include safety in numbers , easier to find food, swimming more efficiently and easier to find potential mates. Schooling behavior confuses potential predators, which cannot focus just on one fish to catch.
Schooling takes coordination, as each fish senses its position in relation to the other fishes. All fish have a lateral line around their bodies that help. There are tiny holes with sensitive hairs in them in the lateral line.
Most fishes don’t school when it is dark, so they are dependent on their eyesight.
According to some scientists, how they school is dependent on their genes. It’s not a learned behavior. Scientists did experiments on some small fish (see here for details) and cross bred individuals that preferred schooling to those that didn’t. The results told the scientists that there are parts of the fishes’ genome associated with schooling.
Another mystery is how fish somehow know when they are with fish that look like themselves so they can school together. They don’t recognize themselves in a mirror like more intelligent animals, so how do they do it? An odd fish out in a school increases its chances that it’ll be seen by a predator.
They may use their senses: sight, smell (pheromones), and sound. But otherwise a Google search only comes up with conjectures.
What questions do you have about fish? I’ll cover them in future posts.
I consulted the following
Wikipedia article on Shoaling and Schooling Fish
The Real Fish of Finding Nemo
The Real Fish of Finding Nemo Part 2
The Real Animals (and Fish!) of Finding Dory
10 Amazing Facts About Sea Otters
10 Interesting Facts About Killer Whales, or Orcas
10 Awesome Facts About Cuttlefish
10 Fascinating Facts About Piranhas
10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sea Sponges
Subscribe to Blog via Email
10 Questions About Sharks Answered
Book Review: Escape Galápagos by Ellen Prager
Review of documentary Sharkwater: Extinction by Rob Stewart
Meet the Pink Manta Ray!
Duffy the Sea Turtle: Children’s Picture Book Review
Manta Rays Have Social Lives!
Interview with Shark Scientist Melissa Cristina Marquez
Interview with Shark Researcher Kristian Parton
Meet Deep Blue—the Largest Great White Shark Ever Filmed
- Wisdom the Albatross Has Hatched a New Chick!
Ocean Animals and the Mirror Self Recognition Test
10 Fabulous Facts About the Sea Cucumber
What Is Bioluminescence and Why Do So Many Deep-Sea Animals Have It?
10 Fun Facts About the Opah Fish, or Moonfish
Interview With Dr. Deni Ramirez Macias, Whale Shark Researcher
Follow me on Twitter!Follow @@protectoceans
- 10 facts
- Book Reviews
- Endangered Animals of Finding Nemo
- Guest Posts
- Marine Mammals
- Other animals
- Other Marine Animals
- People and the Ocean
- Sea Turtles
- Tweets of the Week
Search this Blog
- 10 facts
- book reviews
- endangered species
- Finding Nemo
- global warming
- Great White Shark
- guest post
- guest posts
- humpback whale
- manta ray
- manta rays
- marine mammals
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- ocean acidification
- plastic pollution
- polar bears
- sea level rise
- Sea otters
- sea turtles
- shark finning
- tweets of the week
- whale shark