What do you call a group of fish?

a group of fish
A group of fish

What’s in a Name? A Deep Dive into Group of Fish Terminology

What do you call a group of fish? Greetings, fellow science enthusiasts! As a professional engineer dedicated to expanding knowledge, I’m here today to answer a question that has floated in the sea of our curious minds: What do you call a group of fish?

A School of Thought

Contrary to what many might think, the collective noun for fish isn’t just randomly chosen. The term we use for a group of fish is a school. So, in essence, fish go to school all the time!

Swimming with the School

Fish form schools for various reasons. Foremost among these are protection from predators and increased efficiency in finding food. Just like humans find safety and efficiency in numbers, so do our finned friends. Schools can range from a few fish to several thousands, and their synchronized swimming can be an awe-inspiring sight.

Fish schools are not just mindlessly following the leader. Each fish maintains a careful distance from its neighbors, which results in these stunning coordinated movements. Think about it; it’s a lesson in teamwork that we could all learn from!

Check this out: National Geographic has an enlightening article on fish schooling behavior which you can read here.

Terms and Conditions Apply

Not all groups of fish are called schools, though. Sometimes, they’re referred to as shoals. Here’s the difference: a shoal is any group of fish that remain together for social reasons, while a school is a shoal that is swimming in a highly synchronized and polarized manner. So, all schools are shoals, but not all shoals are schools.

Delving Deeper

It’s not just a matter of “schooling” or “shoaling.” The collective nouns used can change based on species too! For instance, a group of herring is known as an army, while a group of jellyfish is referred to as a smack. The English language, as it often does, throws in these fun, little idiosyncrasies.

For more on collective nouns in animal groups, visit CollectiveNounsList.


Unraveling the mystery of collective fish terminology, we find ourselves immersed in a fascinating aquatic ballet. Fish schooling is not only a survival tactic but also a testament to the stunning synchronization and natural order that exists in our world. So, the next time you spot a group of fish, you’ll know they’re not just swimming; they’re schooling!

Remember, in the grand school of life, there’s always something new to learn, especially when you dive deep. Until our next trivia exploration, keep those questions coming and your curiosity growing!


  1. National Geographic
  2. CollectiveNounsList

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