Best Reef Safe Schooling Fish For Reef Tank

If you have a reef tank, there are a variety of reef-safe schooling saltwater fish you can choose from. Schooling or shoaling saltwater fish are a great choice because they tend to be peaceful and offer a very scenic appearance inside the tank. When they all move together, they add a lot of life and texture to the water.

Not all schooling saltwater fish are particularly easy to take care of or peaceful, however. As a result, you need to select a breed that matches your care level, as well as any other fish in your tank. In this article, we are going to look at the best reef-safe schooling saltwater fish varieties for reef tanks.

Our top pick is the Blue-Green Chromis, but we offer other varieties to choose from as well. Let’s get started.

Blue-Green Chromis (Chromis Viridis)

Blue-Green Chromis reef-safe schooling fish

When you are selecting a reef-safe shoaling saltwater fish type, there are a couple of factors to think about. Factors such as fish personality, ease of care, and price point are three of the most important factors to consider. Based on these three factors, the Blue-Green Chromis is one of the best reef-safe schooling saltwater fish to select for your saltwater tank.

Blue-Green Chromis are beautiful schooling fish that are also super easy to care for and cost a rather affordable price. This is a great beginner breed to get because it doesn’t require much effort. Plus, you should be able to find them no matter where you live.


Blue-Green Chromis is a great schooling breed because they require six or more for a happy and healthy life. Although you can technically only have three Blue-Green Chromis, it is recommended to have over six. This breed is healthier the more fish they have in their school.

Once these fish are in their tank, they like to swim at the top of the tank. When they’re not swimming, they also like to hide in rocks and other water foliage, especially when it is nighttime. Because of these two behavioral features, it’s best to have a larger tank with a lot of rocks for them to hide in.

Another common behavior of the Blue-Green Chromis is that they are aggressive eaters. These schooling fish will eat all at once, creating a very fun and exciting scenery for you and your friends outside the tank. This also tends to lead to higher death rates, which is a downside to this behavior.

Buying Blue-Green Chromis

When you go to buy Blue-Green Chromis, you will be pleasantly surprised at their affordability. They only cost $10 or less, which is an incredibly low price point for saltwater fish. Additionally, it should be rather easy to find a location that sells this fish. Most local pet stores and online sources sell Blue-Green Chromis.

As you buy your fish, make sure to get a minimum of three. As we’ve already mentioned, Blue-Green Chromis live best in a school of six or more. The reason for this is that they feel less stressed the more fish are in their school. This results in less fighting and healthier fish as a whole.

When you buy your Blue-Green Chromis, make sure to also purchase a large tank and many rocks to hide in so that they can have a stress-free and happy life.

Caring For Your Blue-Green Chromis

In comparison to other saltwater fish, Blue-Green Chromis are pretty easy to take care of. They are considered a hardy breed, allowing them to live 18 to 15 years in captivity.

For healthy Blue-Green Chromis, make sure to feed them a diet that includes various meaty foods, frozen preparations, and herbivore flakes. It’s also a great idea to feed them vitamin-enriched food if you want them to preserve their body colorations.

Things To Watch Out For

The one thing that you need to watch out for about Blue-Green Chromis is that they have higher death rates. This is partly because of their aggressive feeding. More so, a school can start to kill each other off after they have been together for many years. Blue-Green Chromis schools don’t always do this, but it is common.

Other Peaceful Reef Safe Schooling Fish To Consider

If you are not sold on the Blue-Green Chromis, here are a few other peaceful and reef-safe schooling fish to consider.

Zebra Dartfish

Zebra Dartfish reef-safe schooling fish

Zebra dartfish are a beginner’s favorite. They are timid and peaceful, making them great schooling fish. They are also easy to care for and not too costly, but make sure that you don’t pair them with any aggressive breeds. Additionally, make sure to add a cover to your aquarium because this breed is known to jump out.

Longspine Cardinalfish

Longspine Cardinalfish reef-safe schooling fish

The longspine cardinalfish often school together, but they are most known for their hiding. Because of their timid personality, they absolutely need a larger school for health and safety. The biggest downside about this fish variety is that they are largely translucent, meaning they won’t add a lot of color to your aquarium.


Anthias reef-safe schooling fish

Anthias are a great choice because they are stunning and like to school. The biggest issue with Anthias is that they come in different specimens, and you cannot mix them. Additionally, a couple can die during quarantine, which many beginning tank owners don’t like.

Best schooling fish for shrimp tank

Keeping schooling fish and shrimp in a saltwater tank is not as easy as it sounds. There are many factors that need to be accounted for, including the size of the tank, the quality of your water, what type of filter you have, how often you clean your tank, and so much more.

Although shrimp and schooling fish together sounds great, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right combination of schooling fish and shrimp for your tank. The wrong mixture can lead to stress, disease, and even death in your fish. When choosing what types of schooling fish should go with your shrimp, you should always try to go with the following combinations below.


Nice, brightly colored cardinals will always go well with your shrimp. They are a good middle ground between colorful and drab as they sport red as well as black colors. The reason they’re often used is because of their peaceful nature. In the wild, cardinals tend to exist in groups that consist of around 20 or more individuals at the same time. Pairing a group of cardinals with your shrimp will help to create that same look and feel in your aquarium.

It also creates a nice, calming atmosphere for everyone in the tank.

Another bonus to using cardinals is their size. They tend to stay out of trouble with larger fish and shrimp alike, so you won’t have to worry about them getting eaten or attacked by your other aquatic friends.

Firefish Goby

Keeping a group of firefish goby together in your tank will not only create an exciting display but will also work well with your shrimp. The reason that this works so well is that the goby tend to stay on the ground level while the fish themselves are active swimmers.

This makes them compatible with many different types of shrimp and other fish.

The goby is also fairly small and won’t pose a danger to shrimp or other types of fish in your aquarium. They can be compared to cardinals in their coloration but they add a second dimension to your tank with their interesting markings and spots on them.

Final Thoughts

Shoaling can be a very fun way to add color, texture, and life to your saltwater reef aquarium. The Blue-Green Chromis is our favorite reef-safe saltwater schooling fish because they are affordable, easy to care for, and beautiful to watch. Just expect them to potentially kill one another off after they have been in your tank for many years.

Whether you select the Blue-Green Chromis or one of the other reef safe schooling fish on our list, make sure to research the fish type thoroughly. Schooling fish tend to be peaceful, meaning that they can be killed off by more aggressive breeds. Research your fish breeds to learn the best fish pairings and tank environments.


Shoaling and schooling