Population density and space limitation have proven important considerations for both fisheries management and aquaculture, resulting in intense interest in the development of new techniques and technologies for management and hatchery applications. To investigate the effects of space limitation and population density on the schooling behavior of fish, we examined the schooling behavior of captive juvenile chub mackerel. Three groups of fish were collected; collections were made at 18, 42, and 73 days post-hatch (dph) at which mean body lengths were 2.28, 8.83, and 11.4 cm, respectively. The two-dimensional movement of individuals during 200-s observation periods was digitized and processed. A mathematical model based on Newton’s second law of motion was used to quantify the forces dominating schooling behavior. The forces of swimming motion were quantified for each fish in a school as the propulsive force due to the swimming ability of each fish, the interactive force used to keep the proper distance and maintain similar velocity with neighboring fish, and the repulsive force used to keep a proper distance from the wall. The magnitude of the repulsive force was minimized in the 18-dph school, maximized in the 42-dph school, and decreased in the 73-dph school. The magnitudes of the propulsive and interactive forces increased with growth. Thus, the interactive force, which was critical for school formation and maintenance appears to reduce the importance of the repulsive force and causes the decline in the repulsive force between 18 and 73 dph.

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