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How Do You Call a Group of Fish?


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Every day we use several collective terms such as a herd, a flock, a swarm, a colony etc. And how do you call a group of fish?

An aggregation of fish is the general term used for any collection of fish gathered in a locality. Most fish swim in groups in search of food or to protect themselves from their natural predators.

The collective noun to denote such groups of fish depends on the species of fish. Besides aggregation, the terms school of fish and shoal of fish are most used to refer to fish that travel as a group.

The words ‘school‘ and ‘shoal’ come from Middle Dutch schōle, of West Germanic origin.

So what is the difference between a school of fish and a shoal of fish?

Schooling fish are usually of the same species and the same age. The individual members of the school move and perform complicated manoeuvres in unison.

These bluestripe snappers are schooling – Flickr image of Snapper in the Maldives by Jim and Becca Wicks

In the above image, the bluestripe snappers are schooling. They are all swimming in the same direction in a coordinated way.

If several species of fish stay together for social reasons, they are shoaling.

These surgeonfish are shoaling – Uxbona, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
In the above image, the surgeonfish are shoaling. Though their swimming pattern seems erratic they stay connected forming a social group. 

A group of dogfish is a troop, a group of eels is a swarm, a group of angelfish is a host, and a group of flying fish is a glide.

A group of jellyfish is a swarm, or a bloom if there is a sudden increase in their population. Some sources refer to a group of jellyfish as a smack.

Whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals that live in the sea are aquatic mammals and not fish. The collective noun to use when these aquatic mammals cluster together is a pod. So, we have pods of whalespods of dolphinspods of porpoises, and pods of seals. These aquatic mammals live and travel in pods for protection.

A herd of Dugongs – Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation

The dugong (sea cow) is a medium-sized marine mammal. They travel in pairs or sometimes travel in groups of 3 to 6 and sometimes in groups of 7 to 10. A group of dugongs is a herd of dugongs or a nutcluster of dugongs.

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