02-25-2013, 06:41 PM
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This happens. But the serious issue with shoaling fish is that it happens because the fish is not in a suitable environment, and the aquarist could have prevented it. As the fish lives and develops day after day, it "expects" certain things. When those are denied, the fish has stress, and the longer this continues the more internal damage it does. And, sadly, it is irreversible.
The fish is frustrated at being alone, or not with the expected group. Shoaling is there for a reason; each species of fish has evolved over thousands of years to function best in a very specific environment. And having others of its own around it is a large part of that. It may be needed for security, or for social interaction, or for a hierarchy.
When this is denied, the fish has no way to deal with this, except by lashing out or becoming seriously withdrawn which does sometimes occur. In both cases, the fish will not be healthy, and it will have a shortened lifespan. It is not right that we force these conditions on any fish. They deserve better from us.