Query API

Querying is how you find records that match certain conditions, for example:

  • Find all comments that belong to a certain post
  • Find all verified comments made by John
  • Count all verified comments made by John or Lucy published under posts made in the last two weeks

Because queries are executed on the database, and not in JavaScript, they're really fast. It's also how Watermelon can be fast even at large scales, because even with tens of thousands of records total, you rarely need to load more than a few dozen records at app launch.

Defining Queries


The simplest query is made using @children. This defines a Query for all comments that belong to a Post:

class Post extends Model {
  // ...
  @children('comments') comments

➡️ Learn more: Defining Models

Extended Query

To narrow down a Query (add extra conditions to an existing Query), use .extend():

import { children, lazy } from '@nozbe/watermelondb/decorators'

class Post extends Model {
  // ...
  @children('comments') comments
  @lazy verifiedComments = this.comments.extend(Q.where('is_verified', true))
  @lazy verifiedAwesomeComments = this.verifiedComments.extend(Q.where('is_awesome', true))

Note: Use the @lazy when extending or defining new Queries for performance

Custom Queries

You can query any table using this.collections.get(tableName).query(conditions). Here, post.comments will query all users that made a comment under post.

class Post extends Model {
  // ...
  @lazy commenters = this.collections.get('users').query(
    Q.on('comments', 'post_id', this.id)

Executing Queries

Most of the time, you connect Queries to Components by using observe or observeCount:

withObservables(['post'], ({ post }) => ({
  post: post.observe(),
  comments: post.comments.observe(),
  verifiedCommentCount: post.verifiedComments.observeCount(),


To simply get the current list or current count, use fetch / fetchCount. You might need it in Actions.

const comments = await post.comments.fetch()
const verifiedCommentCount = await post.verifiedComments.fetchCount()

// Shortcut syntax:
const comments = await post.comments
const verifiedCommentCount = await post.verifiedComments.count

Query conditions

import { Q } from '@nozbe/watermelondb'
// ...
  Q.where('is_verified', true)

This will query all comments that are verified (all comments with one condition: the is_verified column of a comment must be true).

When making conditions, you refer to column names of a table (i.e. is_verified, not isVerified). This is because queries are executed directly on the underlying database.

The second argument is the value we want to query for. Note that the passed argument must be the same type as the column (string, number, or boolean; null is allowed only if the column is marked as isOptional: true in the schema).

Empty query

const allComments = await commentCollection.query().fetch()

A Query with no conditions will find all records in the collection.

Note: Don't do this unless necessary. It's generally more efficient to only query the exact records you need.

Multiple conditions

  Q.where('is_verified', true),
  Q.where('is_awesome', true)

This queries all comments that are both verified and awesome.

Conditions with other operators

QueryJavaScript equivalent
Q.where('is_verified', true)is_verified === true (shortcut syntax)
Q.where('is_verified', Q.eq(true))is_verified === true
Q.where('archived_at', Q.notEq(null))archived_at !== null
Q.where('likes', Q.gt(0))likes > 0
Q.where('likes', Q.weakGt(0))likes > 0 (slightly different semantics — see "null behavior" for details)
Q.where('likes', Q.gte(100))likes >= 100
Q.where('dislikes', Q.lt(100))dislikes < 100
Q.where('dislikes', Q.lte(100))dislikes <= 100
Q.where('likes', Q.between(10, 100))likes >= 10 && likes <= 100
Q.where('status', Q.oneOf(['published', 'draft']))status === 'published' \|\| status === 'draft'
Q.where('status', Q.notIn(['archived', 'deleted']))status !== 'archived' && status !== 'deleted'
Q.where('status', Q.like('%bl_sh%'))/.*bl.sh.*/i (See note below!)
Q.where('status', Q.notLike('%bl_sh%'))/^((!?.*bl.sh.*).)*$/i (Inverse regex match) (See note below!)

Note: It's NOT SAFE to use Q.like and Q.notLike with user input directly, because special characters like % or _ are not escaped. Always sanitize user input like so:


You can use Q.like for search-related tasks. For example, to find all users whose username start with "jas" (case-insensitive) you can write

  Q.where("username", Q.like(`${Q.sanitizeLikeString("jas")}%`)

where "jas" can be changed dynamically with user input.

AND/OR nesting

You can nest multiple conditions using Q.and and Q.or:

  Q.where('archived_at', Q.notEq(null)),
    Q.where('is_verified', true),
      Q.where('likes', Q.gt(10)),
      Q.where('dislikes', Q.lt(5))

This is equivalent to archivedAt !== null && (isVerified || (likes > 10 && dislikes < 5)).

Conditions on related tables ("JOIN queries")

For example: query all comments under posts published by John:

// Shortcut syntax:
  Q.on('posts', 'author_id', john.id),

// Full syntax:
  Q.on('posts', Q.where('author_id', john.id)),

Normally you set conditions on the table you're querying. Here we're querying comments, but we have a condition on the post the comment belongs to.

The first argument for Q.on is the table name you're making a condition on. The other two arguments are same as for Q.where.

Note: The two tables must be associated before you can use Q.on.

Multiple conditions on a related table

For example: query all comments under posts that are written by John and are either published or belong to draftBlog

  Q.on('posts', [
    Q.where('author_id', john.id)
      Q.where('published', true),
      Q.where('blog_id', draftBlog.id),

Instead of an array of conditions, you can also pass Q.and, Q.or, Q.where, or Q.on as the second argument to Q.on.

Nesting Q.on within AND/OR

If you want to place Q.on nested within Q.and and Q.or, you must explicitly define all tables you're joining on. (NOTE: The Q.experimentalJoinTables API is subject to change)

    Q.where('is_followed', true),
    Q.on('projects', 'is_followed', true),

Deep Q.ons

You can also nest Q.on within Q.on, e.g. to make a condition on a grandparent. You must explicitly define the tables you're joining on. (NOTE: The Q.experimentalNestedJoin API is subject to change). Multiple levels of nesting are allowed.

// this queries tasks that are inside projects that are inside teams where team.foo == 'bar'
  Q.experimentalNestedJoin('projects', 'teams'),
  Q.on('projects', Q.on('teams', 'foo', 'bar')),

Advanced Queries

Advanced observing

Call query.observeWithColumns(['foo', 'bar']) to create an Observable that emits a value not only when the list of matching records changes (new records/deleted records), but also when any of the matched records changes its foo or bar column. Use this for observing sorted lists

Count throttling

By default, calling query.observeCount() returns an Observable that is throttled to emit at most once every 250ms. You can disable throttling using query.observeCount(false).

Column comparisons

This queries comments that have more likes than dislikes. Note that we're comparing likes column to another column instead of a value.

  Q.where('likes', Q.gt(Q.column('dislikes')))

sortBy, take, skip

When using SQLite adapter, you can use these experimental clauses to sort the result of the query and to limit the number of results

  Q.experimentalSortBy('likes', Q.asc), // sorts ascending by `likes`

NOTE: This does not currently work on web/LokiJS (please contribute!), and causes query observation to fall back to a less efficient method. We recommend using sortBy only when you absolutely need to limit queries, otherwise, it may be better to sort in JavaScript.


Remember that Queries are a sensitive subject, security-wise. Never trust user input and pass it directly into queries. In particular:

  • Never pass into queries values you don't know for sure are the right type (e.g. value passed to Q.eq() should be a string, number, boolean, or null -- but not an Object. If the value comes from JSON, you must validate it before passing it!)
  • Never pass column names (without whitelisting) from user input
  • Values passed to oneOf, notIn should be arrays of simple types - be careful they don't contain objects
  • Do not use Q.like / Q.notLike without Q.sanitizeLikeString
  • Do not use unsafe raw queries without knowing what you're doing and sanitizing all user input

Unsafe raw queries

If this Query syntax is not enough for you, and you need to get your hands dirty on a raw SQL or Loki query, you need rawQueries.

Please don't use this if you don't know what you're doing. The method name is called unsafe for a reason.

SQL queries

For now, only record SQL queries are available. If you need other SQL queries or LokiJS raw queries, please contribute!

const records = commentCollection.unsafeFetchRecordsWithSQL('select * from comments where ...')

You need to be sure to properly sanitize user values to avoid SQL injection, and filter out deleted records using where _status is not 'deleted' clause

SQL/Loki expressions

You can also include smaller bits of SQL and Loki expressions so that you can still use as much of Watermelon query builder as possible:

// SQL example:
  Q.where('is_published', true),
  Q.unsafeSqlExpr('tasks.num1 not between 1 and 5'),

// LokiJS example:
  Q.where('is_published', true),
  Q.unsafeLokiExpr({ text1: { $contains: 'hey' } })

For SQL, be sure to prefix column names with table name when joining with other tables.

Multi-table column comparisons and Q.unsafeLokiFilter

Example: we want to query comments posted more than 14 days after the post it belongs to was published.

There's sadly no built-in syntax for this, but can be worked around using unsafe expressions like so:

// SQL example:
  Q.on('posts', 'published_at', Q.notEq(null)),
  Q.unsafeSqlExpr(`comments.createad_at > posts.published_at + ${14 * 24 * 3600 * 1000}`)

// LokiJS example:
  Q.on('posts', 'published_at', Q.notEq(null)),
  Q.unsafeLokiFilter((record, loki) => {
    const post = loki.getCollection('posts').by('id', record.post_id)
    return post && record.created_at > post.published_at + 14 * 24 * 3600 * 1000

For LokiJS, remember that record is an unsanitized object and must not be mutated. Q.unsafeLokiFilter only works when using LokiJSAdapter with useWebWorkers: false. There can only be one Q.unsafeLokiFilter clause per query.

null behavior

There are some gotchas you should be aware of. The Q.gt, gte, lt, lte, oneOf, notIn, like operators match the semantics of SQLite in terms of how they treat null. Those are different from JavaScript.

Rule of thumb: No null comparisons are allowed.

For example, if you query comments for Q.where('likes', Q.lt(10)), a comment with 8 likes and 0 likes will be included, but a comment with null likes will not! In Watermelon queries, null is not less than any number. That's why you should avoid making table columns optional unless you actually need it.

Similarly, if you query with a column comparison, like Q.where('likes', Q.gt(Q.column('dislikes'))), only comments where both likes and dislikes are not null will be compared. A comment with 5 likes and null dislikes will NOT be included. 5 is not greater than null here.

Q.oneOf operator: It is not allowed to pass null as an argument to Q.oneOf. Instead of Q.oneOf([null, 'published', 'draft']) you need to explicitly allow null as a value like so:

    Q.where('status', Q.oneOf(['published', 'draft'])),
    Q.where('status', null)

Q.notIn operator: If you query, say, posts with Q.where('status', Q.notIn(['published', 'draft'])), it will match posts with a status different than published or draft, however, it will NOT match posts with status == null. If you want to include such posts, query for that explicitly like with the example above.

Q.weakGt operator: This is weakly typed version of Q.gt — one that allows null comparisons. So if you query comments with Q.where('likes', Q.weakGt(Q.column('dislikes'))), it WILL match comments with 5 likes and null dislikes. (For weakGt, unlike standard operators, any number is greater than null).

Contributing improvements to Watermelon query language

Here are files that are relevant. This list may look daunting, but adding new matchers is actually quite simple and multiple first-time contributors made these improvements (including like, sort, take, skip). The implementation is just split into multiple files (and their test files), but when you look at them, it'll be easy to add matchers by analogy.

We recommend starting from writing tests first to check expected behavior, then implement the actual behavior.

  • src/QueryDescription/test.js - Test clause builder (Q.myThing) output and test that it rejects bad/unsafe parameters
  • src/QueryDescription/index.js - Add clause builder and type definition
  • src/__tests__/databaseTests.js - Add test ("join" if it requires conditions on related tables; "match" otherwise) that checks that the new clause matches expected records. From this, tests running against SQLite, LokiJS, and Matcher are generated. (If one of those is not supported, add skip{Loki,Sql,Count,Matcher}: true to your test)
  • src/adapters/sqlite/encodeQuery/test.js - Test that your query generates SQL you expect. (If your clause is Loki-only, test that error is thrown)
  • src/adapters/sqlite/encodeQuery/index.js - Generate SQL
  • src/adapters/lokijs/worker/encodeQuery/test.js - Test that your query generates the Loki query you expect (If your clause is SQLite-only, test that an error is thrown)
  • src/adapters/lokijs/worker/encodeQuery/index.js - Generate Loki query
  • src/adapters/lokijs/worker/{performJoins/*.js,executeQuery.js} - May be relevant for some Loki queries, but most likely you don't need to look here.
  • src/observation/encodeMatcher/ - If your query can be checked against a record in JavaScript (e.g. you're adding new "by regex" matcher), implement this behavior here (index.js, operators.js). This is used for efficient "simple observation". You don't need to write tests - databaseTests are used automatically. If you can't or won't implement encodeMatcher for your query, add a check to canEncode.js so that it returns false for your query (Less efficient "reloading observation" will be used then). Add your query to test.js's "unencodable queries" then.

Next steps

➡️ Now that you've mastered Queries, make more Relations