Posted over 9 years ago. Visible to the public. Repeats.

Why has_many :through associations can return the same record multiple times

An association defined with has_many :through will return the same record multiple times if multiple join models for the same record exist. To prevent this, you need to add ->{ uniq } as second argument to has_many (below Rails 4 it is a simple option: has_many :xyz, :uniq => true).


Say you have an Invoice with multiple Items. Each Item has a Product:

class Invoice < ActiveRecord::Base has_many :items has_many :products, :through => :items end class Item < ActiveRecord::Base belongs_to :invoice belongs_to :product end class Product < ActiveRecord::Base has_many :items end

Further say you have multiple items for the same product and invoice in the items table:

id invoice_id product_id
11 1001 55
12 1001 55

Now #products will return the product with ID #55 two times for this invoice:

invoice = Invoice.find(1001) invoice.products # => [#<Product id: 55>, #<Product id: 55>]

You probably wanted Invoice#products to mean "all products involved with the invoice", so you need to use the :uniq option of has_many:

class Invoice < ActiveRecord::Base has_many :items has_many :products, :through => :items, :uniq => true end

Now the product is only returned once:

invoice = Invoice.find(1001) invoice.products # => [#<Product id: 55>]

How the :uniq option works

In the example above it changes the MySQL query for Invoice#products to something like


Issues with PostgreSQL

In Postgres, SELECT DISTINCT * FROM products ... will fail when any column of products is of type json:

ActiveRecord::StatementInvalid Exception: PG::UndefinedFunction: ERROR: could not identify an equality operator for type json

This has not been fixed yet. Archive

Does your version of Ruby on Rails still receive security updates?
Rails LTS provides security patches for old versions of Ruby on Rails (3.2 and 2.3).

Owner of this card:

Henning Koch
Last edit:
almost 6 years ago
by Martin Straub
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Posted by Henning Koch to makandra dev
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