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Why do fish swim in schools? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A


Why do fish swim in schools?

Why do fish swim in schools?
Chris – Akron, OH

Most people are well aware that fish – most of them, anyhow – swim in tightly-knit groups known as schools. But when pressed for a rationale, few people know exactly why fish are so intent on sticking together. As it turns out, school is just as smart for fish as it is for people – but for some very different reasons. So, in no particular order, here they are.

There’s safety in numbers. When pond and lake predators look for a meal, they look for easy targets. And while a school of fish might seem like a logical choice, it’s actually easier to identify a single target – and track it down. Schools of fish, on the other hand, present multiple targets. And when a predator goes in for a snack, the school scatters, making it difficult to keep track of a single individual long enough to catch it.

But when survival’s at stake, group behavior can always use a helping hand. That’s why we recommend Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. When placed in your pond, fish will enjoy improved spawning habitat, and young fish will have a great place to hide when predators are on the hunt. Using our Fish Attractor Spheres, you’ll see improved fish survival rates, healthier stocks, and, if you’re so inclined, better fishing.

The buddy system makes life easier. When a fish goes solo, he faces currents and resistance all alone. And when you have to fight resistance on your own, you have to work hard just to get where you’re going. In schools, however, a lazy fish can draft off the fish around him, significantly reducing resistance. By reducing the energy they need to expend, they can expend even less energy looking for food.

For a good paradigm, think of the Tour de France. During each stage of the race, a few aggressive riders typically break from the tightly-packed peloton. Those lead riders are often overtaken late in the race by riders who stuck with the peloton for the majority of the race to enjoy the benefit of riding behind and among other riders whose bodies reduced wind resistance and made the ride less fatiguing. The breakaway riders, on the other hand, are forced to work harder, making it tougher to maintain the lead. Migratory birds often employ the same tactic, flying in v-formations to reduce drag and conserve energy.

While schooling helps to preserve energy, it’s still important that your fish have the proper food to stay healthy, active, and capable of successful reproduction. We strongly recommend a scientifically-balanced food like Pond Logic Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Designed to promote optimal growth of game fish like bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the large pellets are high in protein, which helps to promote a strong, healthy fish population for more satisfying game fishing.

Having walked our way through fish that do school, it’s worthwhile to note that some simply don’t. In most cases, those fish have evolved with a different set of survival techniques – from hiding to aggression – that works just fine for them.

Pond Talk: Do you often see your fish swimming in a school in your pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres - 3 Pack

4 Responses

  1. Pond Guy,

    You might wish to do a bit of reading in Complexity Theory. A school of fish is a self-organizing, mathematical system as described by Complexity Theory. Schooling fish probably survive as a result of the evolutionary advantage such behavior offers, as you describe in you newsletter.

    Don MacDonald

  2. Dear sir,
    Recenly retired after 35 years on fire dept, brother and I have owned 3 acre pond since 1990’s haven’t did much with it due to location and time constraints. Now that I’m retired and have the time, I would like to start treating it for various weed growth and the dreaded watermeal, although I can’t afford everything cured at one time, I would like to set up a systematic approach to help the problems over tiime. Could you suggest a program that is affordable and productive, without throwing money down the drain, Where do I begin?

    I am located in central Indiana. Woud guess average depth to be 10-15 ft.

    Thanks for the help, read your news letters faithfully

    Terry Loftus

    • Hi Terry,

      I always like to begin with providing the pond aeration/circulation and natural bacteria to begin cleaning up the years of built up debris. Without this it wil be very difficult to keep your weeds under control, though we can provide treatments that will give you temporary relief. Please contact our customer service department for further information and quoting at 866-766-3710.

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