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.

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