The behaviour of individual minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) and goldfish (Carassius auratus) foraging on an artificial food patch was recorded for single species shoals of 2, 4, 6, 12 and 20 fish. In both species shoal size accounted for most variation in behaviour in the experiments. The behaviour of individual goldfish differed more than that of individual minnows, a result that can be explained by the weaker shoaling tendency of goldfish. ‘Timid’ behaviour, for example lurking in the weeds or rapid darting and turning, predominated in small shoals. It was only in large shoals that fish made frequent and lengthy visits to the patch.