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What Are The Most Popular Schooling Fish For Reef Aquariums?

by Brian Dunleavy
What Are The Most Popular Schooling Fish For Reef Aquariums?

Do you love keeping fish in a tank and want to make your aquarium look more lively and colorful? If so, then the world of schooling fish is something that you should pay attention to. Such eye-catching reef inhabitants have become very popular among aquarists due to their fascinating behavior and stunning appearance.

The 6 Best Schooling Fish For Reef Aquariums

Bonded Pair Of Clownfish

The famous clownfish featured in “Finding Nemo” is a popular choice for beginners and experienced aquarium enthusiasts. These beautiful little creatures not only look stunning in their flamboyant colors and unique patterns, but they also show some intriguing social behavior.

Clownfish are schooling fish – meaning that they prefer to live with other members of their species. In addition to being visually captivating, a bonded pair of clownfish will keep each other company and establish a hierarchy within your tank.

Their capacity to build strong, lifelong relationships is one of the most incredible things about bonded pairs of clownfish. These kinds of fish tend to be monogamous; therefore once they have paired up with another clownfish, they do not separate till death does them apart. The natural world and our tanks both have a purpose for this bond too.

Together as partners, this couple defends its territory by laying eggs tactfully on a flat surface near their anemone home.

Blue Chromis

Blue chromis are known for their peaceful character which makes them compatible with various other reef fish, plus they are also small enough to fit both bigger tanks as well as smaller ones.

One of the most striking features about blue chromis is its bright blue coloring which adds life to any reef tank. This attractive color also serves as a defense mechanism for these species - in the wild, the blue chromis uses their bright blue hue to help them blend into the water column making it difficult for predators to detect them from others. Overall, the blue chromis is a great addition to adding vibrant color to your reef tank!


Yellow Tang

With its vibrant yellow body and sleek disc-like shape, the yellow tang adds beauty to any aquarium while promoting a sense of belonging through its schooling habit. These fish live best when kept in groups as they are highly sociable, which is why they make perfect schooling fish.

Among all schooling fish available for reef tanks, the yellow tang is one of the smartest choices possible because it has such beautiful colors that immediately add life to aquariums.

Besides painting a picture-perfect view in the aquarium these fish also move around together in one single direction creating unity among themselves while swimming in synchronized movements alongside each other. When a bunch of yellow tangs are swimming in the water gracefully, it is simply captivating.

Besides the aesthetics, yellow tangs also offer more to a reef tank. These species are great algae-eating fish, perfect for keeping the aquarium clean from excessive growth. The constant grazing on algae makes them a good choice for those who want to develop and maintain a healthy environment within their tank as well as balanced ecosystems.

Bangaii Cardinalfish

The Bangaii cardinalfish is notable for its striking black body featuring white vertical stripes and long, flowing fins. They are typically small-sized fish, growing to about three inches, making them perfect for both small and large reef aquariums.

One of the reasons why Bangaii cardinalfish are considered one of the best schooling reef tank fish is their peacefulness. These fish are also known to be calm and non-aggressive, which makes them excellent tank mates for other peaceful fish. They are generally considered hardy and can adapt well to life in captivity, so even if you are a newbie hobbyist, Bangaii cardinalfish are a great addition!

Another reason why Bangaii cardinalfish are highly regarded in the aquarium hobby is because of their schooling behavior. These fish have a natural habit of forming groups or schools so tight-knit that it brings out an incredible sense of movement and vibrancy over the reef tank. It is truly mesmerizing when they swim together in perfect synchrony which greatly enhances the visual appeal of any aquarium.

Mono argentus

Mono argentus, commonly known as the silver moony, is a very popular schooling fish that thrives well inside reef aquariums when kept together with other members of the shoal. Their swimming synchrony is every aquarist’s delight! When their shimmering silver scales are illuminated by the aquarium lighting, they make an amazing showpiece that cannot escape any eye.

By putting them together you can watch their natural behaviors and interactions taking place, which makes your tank an even more fascinating aquarium addition.

The silver moony has more going for them than just their looks and being sociable as they are also easy fish to care for, making them a great choice for both beginners and experienced hobbyists. 

Neon Damselfish

This lively little fish adds a punch of vivid blue to any reef aquarium. Loose formations of schools of neon damsels are a common sight in the wild due to their social nature.  It is as if one were watching an underwater ballet, happening right in front of them when groups of Neon Damsels shoot around the tank.

They are perfect for community aquariums as they are happiest with their own kind and are relatively uncomplicated to maintain. Their ability to adapt and tough nature make them a fantastic choice for both newbie and expert aquarists.

Besides, these fish stay quite small, only reaching about three inches long, so they fit comfortably into most coral reef tanks, even nano tanks if overcrowding is not an issue. 

Nonetheless, it’s worth pointing out that while most varieties of neon damsels tend to be peaceful towards other fish species, they can sometimes exhibit aggressive behavior against fellow members. 

To create a peaceful aquarium environment, it is better to keep them in groups of a minimum number of five fish. This spreads aggression among individuals reducing the chances that any particular fish will be targeted by others.


The world of aquarium fish offers an abundance of options to enhance the beauty and dynamics of your tank, with schooling fish being among the most popular choices. From the vibrant Blue Chromis to the iconic Clownfish, each species brings its unique charm and social behavior to the aquatic community. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced aquarist, incorporating schooling fish not only adds aesthetic appeal but also contributes to the harmonious balance within your reef aquarium. 

If you are interested in adding one of these epic schooling fish to your aquarium but are unsure about your aquarium compatibility, speak to our expert team at Reefco Aquariums

by Brian Dunleavy