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School Size Aesthetics Calculation


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There is a lot of information as to minimum number for health, minimum tank size / preferred tank size for a species but what I am curious about is something else. 

If I want to create an impressive schooling visual effect is there a good way to determine an appropriate number of fish for a school based on tank size? Just thought this was an interesting, but possibly overlooked topic. Please don't say trial and error 🙂.

Yes I'm retired, waiting for tank cycling, and too much time on my hands! 

I've seen tank set ups where 100s of tetras look great in a huge tank, but in a smaller tank they'd look a pet store feeder fish tank. Minimum recommended numbers may not even be enough to be a school... don't know.

If I wanted to figure it out myself, I would bet it is some kind of ratio of fish size to total tank length. Let's say minimum quantity recommended to keep of a hypothetical fish is 6 (which do school but say 8 is better) in a minimum 24 inch tank. How many for a 30 inch tank, 36 inch tank, etc? 

Hypothetical w/ ratio of tank length:                    Hypothetical w/ ratio of tank length minus a linear open swim area value (12"?)

24" tank - 6 Min., 8 optimum, 12 Max.                   24" tank - 6 Min., 8 optimum, 12 Max.

30" tank (1.25) - 6 Min., 10 optimum, 15 Max.       30" tank (30-12)/(24-12)= (1.5) - 6 Min., 12 optimum, 20 Max.

36" tank (1.5) - 6 Min., 12 optimum, 18 Max.         36" tank (2.0) - 6 Min., 16 optimum, 24 Max.                             

48" tank (2.0) - 6 Min., 16 optimum, 24 Max.        48" tank (3.0) - 6 Min., 24 optimum, 36 Max.

Obviously my formulas might not be correct or applicable, but purely as a demonstration what I'm inquiring about. There are some popular, but suspect stocking guidelines? As I stated I have found nothing regarding schooling aesthetics. 

Interested to hear others thoughts? Even thoughts on encouraging schooling ... and not moving hand back and forth in front of tank 🙂

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I had a school of ember tetras in 360 liters and did the trial and error. started with 20. Looked like a spit in the water. Added 20 more. Not much of an improvement. Added another 20. Still not the majestic thing I expected.

Added 20 rummynose. the tank looks nice, live and as a number, they were enough. Similar experience with like danios, they move so much the tank looks full of them even in lower numbers.

So, sad to say, it depends on the fish 🙂

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