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|A fish is a vertebrate, an animal with a backbone, |
which has adapted to life in the water. All fish:
What other animals are vertebrates?
Mammals (such as cats, horses, and elephants), reptiles (such as snakes and lizards), amphibians (such as toads and frogs), and birds also have a backbone.
|How do fish breathe?|
All animals need oxygen to survive. Fish have special organs called gills. Gills are located on the sides of a fish's head. They are made of thin sheets or membranes. After fish open their mouth and take in water, they pump it to gills. Fish absorb dissolved oxygen as water passes through gill membranes. Once oxygen is absorbed, water flows out through the gill openings.
Not all underwater animals are fish. Whales and dolphins are mammals. (A mammal is a vertebrate that produces milk to feed their young.) Jellyfish, starfish, and octopus are invertebrates. (Animals without a backbone.)
How many groups of fish are there?
There are over 25,000 different types, or species, of fish in the world. That's more that all the amphibians, reptiles, birds,and mammals combined! About 200 to 300 new fishes are discovered and named a year. Fish come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest fish is the stout infantfish (Schindleria brevipinguis), measuring about 7 mm (0.3 in) long. Whale sharks can grow to 12m (40 ft) in length. An adult Pacific sturgeon can weigh 400 pounds, reach more than 20 feet in length and live over 100 years.
Fish Identification from Idaho Fish and Game Department, with photos, descriptions, life histories, feeding habits and angling techniques.
Where can fish be found?
Fish can be found in almost every type of underwater habitat. The Antarctic icefish can survive in water below 0° C (32° F) because their blood contains special anti-freeze chemicals to prevent their body from freezing. Fish are found in hot desert springs, in dried mud in tropical ponds and deep in the ocean.
Some live in freshwater, some in saltwater, and some in both!!! Read about Salmon, which live part of their life in freshwater and part in saltwater.
In general, fishes are streamlined with a pointed anterior, (snout), and pointed posterior, (rear), and a broad propulsive tail. This torpedo-shaped body is typical of the fastest-swimming fishes.
|Streamlined means that it is a efficient shape for speeding through the water. Airplanes have a similar streamlined shape for moving through air.|
| How long do fish live? Some fish live for a few weeks and some can live over 50 years. How do you know the age of a fish ? |
Scientists look at growth rings on scales, and/or ringlike structures found in otoliths (small bones of the inner ear).
|All about Scales|
Scales help protect fish. There are 4 kinds of scales. Follow this link for photos of scales...
|Most fish are colorblind.|
|Oldest Living Fish|
The Coelacanth is a living fossil that has changed little in its 400 million years on Earth. This ancient fish gives scientists a window into what the Earth was like a long time ago.