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Fish Behavior

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

Materials

  • Access to the internet

Procdedures

  1. In this part of the activity you will observe several kinds of fish. Read the activity questions before watching the video so you are prepared for your observation. As you watch each video, answer the activity questions.
  2. Remember that, although the study of behavior is very interesting, behavior is often difficult to measure. Studying behavior takes practice, and the untrained observer may miss behavioral movements or consider them insignificant. It is helpful to
    1. be patient with your observations,
    2. watch the same fish (or video) repeatedly, and
    3. write down what you see a fish doing (or not doing) even if you don’t understand why the fish is doing (or not doing) a particular behavior.
  3. Use the links provided, or search the internet to find your own videos.
Activity Questions: 
  1. Observe the goatfish in one or more of these videos and describe its behavior. What body structuagr does the goatfish use to forage for food?
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240747155
    2. https://youtu.be/q_eDEuWOLmU
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa11Vj9Emtg
    4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9_ZHICoiho
    5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udz3TdWLYHQ
  2. Groupers are predatory fishes that rapidly open their mouths to suck in prey. Some large groupers have such a powerful mouth suction that they can suck lobsters from inside crevices. Observe the grouper in this video and describe its behavior in relation to the other predatory fishes (jacks, leopard shark, and snapper) that swim by. Hypothesize how the grouper’s behavior may help it to catch prey.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240734099
    2. https://youtu.be/B95ifIjZ5U0
  3. Shoaling is a loose form of schooling, where fishes stay near to each other for social reasons but do not form an organized school. The yellow tang in this video exhibit shoaling behavior. Observe and describe how they feed and redirect themselves toward one another. Hypothesize a reason for this type of shoaling behavior.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240928207
    2. https://youtu.be/O0VpyqgF2J4
  4. Anenomies have stinging cells like those of coral and jelly medusa, but anemone fishes are able to live happily within the tentacles. Observe the fish in this video, describe their behavior, and hypothesize why they are so cozy with these anemone (hint: what might the fish gain from the anemone, and what might the anemone gain from the fish?).
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240927309
    2. https://youtu.be/O0VpyqgF2J4
  5. Soldier fishes are nocturnal, night time predators. They have red coloring to help them be camouflaged at night. They also have large eyes to help them see in dim light. This video was taken during the day. Observe and describe the soldier fish’s behavior. Hypothesize why it might be acting this way.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240751138
    2. https://youtu.be/5UXzNEl5918
  6. Archerfish and spadefish are both predatory, silvery fishes that live in the nearshore, seagrass environment. Archerfish have upturned mouths and feed by spitting water at insects in the air, which causes the insects to crash into the water where they can be eaten. Spadefish are predators of plankton and small, benthic invertebrates. Watch this video, describe the differences you see in the two fishes’ behavior, and hypothesize how their feeding style might match up with the behaviors you observe.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240752646
    2. https://youtu.be/tQAbckbvcro
  7. Lionfishes are active predators of small fishes. Lionfish can skillfully corner their prey for capture. Lionfish are also highly poisonous due to their venomous fin rays, but these are used in defense rather than for catching prey. Watch this video and describe the lionfish’s behavior toward the camera. Hypothesize and explain why you think the lionfish is displaying hunting behavior or predator avoidance behavior.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://vimeo.com/240748300
    2. https://youtu.be/4B3xY_GNqmo
  8. The peacock flounder spends most of its time on the seafloor. How has the peacock flounder adapted to hide from predators?
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S6X8F9Gho8
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTo5ITM3nPA
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc1-_HGL0Rg
  9. The whitemouth moray is exhibiting a behavior that most humans find frightening. The rhythmic opening and closing of the moray’s mouth is not a defensive or aggressive behavior. Why do you think eels keep their mouths open or open-and-close their mouths repeatedly?
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1lQurTZI8E
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa7dDdQimjw
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prjlc1D9n9I
  10. Barracudas are streamlined predators. What external features provide clues to the barracuda’s feeding behavior and prey?
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfHejAz0Fe4
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zddKAwoerM
    3. http://www.arkive.org/great-barracuda/sphyraena-barracuda/video-08a.html
  11. The spotted porcupinefish has spines and spots on its body. Hypothesize why this fish may have evolved spines and spots.
    1. Video Links:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMnb0ovudHM
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds3iSA0n5Bc
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEvuTMEaHts
    4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0VEEyVkaD4
    5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFpYwic91VA
    6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDj3Ag_N_B8

Table of Contents:

Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.