Do Danios Have to Be In a School? Are Danios Schooling Fish?

Last Updated on January 10, 2022 by cmoarz

Do danios have to be in a school to be happy and are they even considered a schooling fish to begin with? These are questions many danio owners ask when looking for how many they need to stock their tanks with. The answer is actually complex.

Are danios schooling fish?

By definition, Danios ARE schooling fish. They are even considered one of the top 10 schooling fish in the world.

However, there is not much scientific proof showing that danios prefer to be in schools while they are living in the wild. It appears that they group together simply because it’s easier for them to find food and hide from predators when they live in groups rather than by themselves.

As a matter of fact, in the wild, danios are known to live by themselves or in very small groups where they add up to 10 fish at the most. In captivity, however, Danios feel more safe and comfortable when they can school together with other danio species. This leads us to another question…

Do Danios Have to be in a school?

As a general rule of thumb with any schooling or shoaling fish, The minimum number of fish you should have is 6.

But danios are an interesting species so far as they don’t always school, even though they are officially a schooling fish. That leads us to an interesting problem many danio owners have come up against:

My Danios Aren’t Schooling!

Even if you have 6 danios there is no guarantee they will school together.

This is especially true if you have 5 or fewer. You would be surprised to know that many shoaling fish will simply not school together if they don’t get that 6th member.

That’s where the rule of thumb comes from for schooling fish stocking.

With that said, There are several reasons why your danios won’t school, including tank size.

The tank needs to be sufficiently large enough for them to school.

Most people who have tried to get their danios to school long-term report that they will not stay together unless the tank is at least 20 gallons in size and more than likely, it needs to be 30 gallons or larger for them to stay together without problems.

But there are other things that lead to danios not schooling, such as they simply don’t feel like it.

That’s why this answer is so complex, While danios are schooling fish, they don’t always want to school. Some subspecies will school more than others while some will prefer to be on their own doing their own thing.

If you have a danio that just doesn’t feel like schooling, don’t worry about it. They will be happy doing their own thing and as long as your water quality is good and you keep them in large enough tanks they should stay healthy and thrive on their own.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!