Abstract We studied shoaling behaviour in a species of fish (Garra barreimiae) from Oman. We compared two populations (a surface-dwelling and a cave-dwelling population) with different theoretical costs and benefits of shoaling. We measured the tendency to associate with a shoal of conspecifics. The stimulus shoal was confined to (1) clear Plexiglas cylinders in light, (2) wire-mesh cylinders in light, or (3) wire-mesh cylinders in darkness. The surface form exhibited a strong preference for the stimulus shoal during the experiments in light, but also in darkness, when only non-visual cues from the shoal could be perceived. The cave form did not show a preference when solely visual cues were available (Plexiglas cylinder). When non-visual cues from the shoal could be perceived (wire-mesh), the cave form did show a preference to associate with the shoal, but the shoaling tendency was considerably weaker than in the surface form. The shoaling tendency has probably been genetically reduced in the cave form.