A Comprehensive Guide to Top Dwelling Schooling Fish for Your Aquarium

Are you an aquarium enthusiast looking to revitalize your aquatic habitat with vibrant and active fish?

Top-dwelling schooling fish can transform your aquarium into a fascinating spectacle, as these fish types are often found in the upper portion of the tank, swimming together in harmony.

In this article, we’ll explore the unique traits of top-dwelling schooling fish species and share valuable tips for maintaining their well-being in your aquarium.


What Are Top Dwelling Schooling Fish? 

Top-dwelling schooling fish are species that gravitate towards the upper region of the aquarium.

These fish are known for their energetic behavior and are often seen zipping around the tank.

Many of these fish are schooling species, which means they thrive in groups.

Keeping them in numbers offers social interaction and safety and showcases their innate tendency to swim in unison.

Top Dwelling Schooling Fish Species to Consider

Dwarf Gourami Centerpiece Fish
Dwarf Gourami

Here are 11 top-dwelling schooling fish species that make great additions to your aquarium:

  1.  Neon Tetra: These small, brightly colored fish are a favorite in many aquariums. With a  neon tetra lifespan of around five years, they should be housed in groups of at least six in a 15-gallon tank.
  2.  Guppies: Small and vibrant, guppies can be kept in groups of at least five in a 10-gallon tank, which answers the question:  how many guppies are in a 10-gallon tank? These lively fish are perfect for community tanks.
  3.  Dwarf Gourami: Known for their striking colors and unique personalities, dwarf gouramis make an excellent centerpiece in your aquarium. Keep them in groups of at least six in a 20-gallon tank with compatible, peaceful fish species as these dwarf gourami tank mates.
  4.  Harlequin Rasbora: These fish have a unique triangular shape and eye-catching coloration. They should be kept in groups of at least six in a 15-gallon tank.
  5.  Cherry Barb: With their stunning red hue and playful nature, cherry barbs thrive in groups of at least six in a 20-gallon tank.
  6.  Swordtail: Sporting a sword-shaped tail and various colors, swordtails should be kept in groups of at least three in a 20-gallon tank.
  7.  Zebra Danio: Recognizable by their black and white stripes and lively demeanor, zebra danios should be housed in groups of at least six in a 10-gallon tank.
  8.  Cardinal Tetra: These fish resemble neon tetras but boast a more vibrant coloration. They should be kept in groups of at least six in a 20-gallon tank.
  9.  Ember Tetra: Small, peaceful, and strikingly orange ember tetras should be housed in groups of at least six in a 10-gallon tank.
  10.  Celestial Pearl Danio: Also known as galaxy rasboras, these fish have an intricate pearl-like appearance with speckled patterns. Please keep them in groups of at least six in a 10-gallon tank.
  11.  Rummynose Tetra: With a distinctive red nose and silver body, rummy nose tetras should be housed in groups of at least six in a 20-gallon tank.

Best Practices for Maintaining Top Dwelling Schooling Fish

Rummy-Nose Tetras (Hemigrammus Rhodostomus)
Rummy-Nose Tetras (Hemigrammus Rhodostomus)

Follow these guidelines to ensure the health and happiness of your top-dwelling schooling fish:

Tank Size

While tank size requirements vary among species, most top-dwelling schooling fish species need enough space to swim freely.

Therefore, a 15-gallon tank is generally adequate.

Water Conditions

Most top-dwelling schooling fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5.

Additionally, they thrive in soft to moderately complex water, ranging from 5 to 15 dGH.

Regularly monitoring water parameters ensures that they remain within the appropriate range.


The best aquarium filter is vital for maintaining the health of your top-dwelling schooling fish.

Not only does it help keep the water clean and clear, but it also provides necessary oxygenation.

In addition, using a  Fluval Stratum substrate can contribute to a healthy environment for your fish by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that maintain water quality.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your top-dwelling schooling fish, opt for peaceful species that won’t compete with or harass them.

For instance, betta fish can be aggressive and may not be suitable tank mates.

Instead, consider other peaceful species such as corydoras catfish or small freshwater shrimp.


Different top-dwelling schooling fish species have distinct dietary requirements.

However, most will thrive on a varied diet of high-quality flakes or pellets and occasional treats like freeze-dried or live foods.

Avoid overfeeding your fish, as this can lead to health issues.


If you notice any unusual behavior, such as your fish swimming sideways, promptly addressing the issue is essential.

Understanding why my fish swim sideways could indicate water quality issues, illness, or injury.

Monitor your fish closely and consult with an aquarium expert if necessary.


Top-dwelling schooling fish can add a vibrant and dynamic touch to your aquarium.

From the brilliant neon tetras to the uniquely patterned celestial pearl danios, there’s a species suited to every preference.

To keep these fish healthy, provide a suitable environment, including appropriate tank size, water conditions, and tank mates.

By adhering to best practices and offering proper care, you can enjoy the beauty and activity of these captivating fish in your home aquarium.

Now that you’ve explored the fascinating world of schooling fish, it’s time to dive even deeper into this captivating topic!

Here are some articles to help you expand your knowledge and discover more about the best schooling fish for various aquarium sizes and setups:

  1.  Best Schooling Fish for 5-Gallon Tank: Learn about the perfect schooling fish options for a compact 5-gallon aquarium.
  2.  Best Schooling Fish for 10-Gallon Tank: Explore a variety of schooling fish that thrive in a 10-gallon tank, adding life and movement to your setup.
  3. Best Schooling Fish for 20-Gallon Tank: Discover the ideal schooling fish for a 20-gallon aquarium, creating a mesmerizing underwater display.
  4. Best Schooling Fish for 30-Gallon Tank: Enhance your 30-gallon tank with a selection of schooling fish suitable for this size.
  5. Best Schooling Fish for 40-Gallon Tank: Uncover the top schooling fish choices for a 40-gallon aquarium, adding color and dynamism to your setup.
  6. Best Schooling Fish for 55-Gallon Tank: Find out which schooling fish will make your 55-gallon tank an aquatic wonderland.
  7. Best Schooling Fish for Aquariums: Get an overview of the most popular and best-suited schooling fish for various aquarium types.
  8. Best Schooling Fish for Community Tank: Discover the ideal schooling fish that can peacefully coexist with other species in a community tank setup.
  9. Best Schooling Fish for Planted Tank: Learn about the perfect schooling fish that will complement and thrive in a lush planted aquarium environment.
  10. Bottom-Dwelling Schooling Fish: Explore the world of bottom-dwelling schooling fish, adding diversity and intrigue to your aquarium floor.
  11. Mid-Level Schooling Fish: Dive into the realm of mid-level schooling fish, which bring balance and movement to the middle section of your tank.
  12. Schooling Fish for Small Aquariums: Uncover the best schooling fish options for small tanks, maximizing beauty without overwhelming your space.
  13. Top-Dwelling Schooling Fish: Learn about the fascinating top-dwelling schooling fish that will enhance the surface of your aquarium with their captivating behavior.

By exploring these resources, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of schooling fish, their care requirements, and the most suitable options for different aquarium setups. 

As you continue to learn, you’ll be able to create the perfect aquatic environment for your schooling fish to thrive in.

So, immerse yourself in the captivating world of schooling fish today!

Jack Dempsey
Follow Me