Fashion A Fish
Updated: Feb 17
Design a fish adapted to various aquatic habitats.
Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning & Resilience
Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
Tools & Materials
Colored pencils, paint, crayons or pens
Add optional materials for creating 3-D fish
Scientific notebook or paper
To Do & Notice
1. Question: What fish live in Lake Tahoe? What unique adaptations do these fish have to help them survive in the Lake Tahoe environment?
2. Make a Claim:
In your notebook answer:
What features and behaviors would help a fish survive in Lake Tahoe?
3. Learn More:
Learn about the fish that live in Lake Tahoe in this slideshow.
Adaptations: a special body part, body covering or behavior that allow an animal to survive in their environment. There are three main types of fish adaptations:
Body Shape: Body shape affects how a fish swims in the water and different shapes offer different advantages. Fin shape is also important to consider. Rounded fins are better at maneuvering while pointy are best for speed. What environments do you think you would want maneuverability over speed? What about speed over maneuverability?
Mouth Type: There are three main mouth types (but there are many more that also exist):
Superior mouths are upturned and great for feeding on the surface of the water.
Terminal mouths point straight forward and are the most common mouth type. They often eat food that is floating in the water.
Inferior mouths are turned downward. The inferior mouth type is often found in bottom-dwelling species and are ideal for eating food off the floor of the lake or ocean.
There are many other options for fish mouths too, feel free to research all the options! One example is the Kokanee salmon, this fish has a hooked jaw that attracts mates and helps them defend their territory.
Coloration: Fish have a wide range of colors and patterns.
Many fish use their colorings and markings as camouflage.
Some fish use bright colors to confuse their predators.
The area of the lake a fish lives in also can affect the coloration.
Notice the pattern of colors in the image. At the surface the fish are mostly blue while deeper down they are mostly red. At the bottom they are cream colored.
Design and create your own fish!
Think about where your fish will live. What will it eat? What does it need to protect itself from? Choose adaptations that will help your fish survive in its environment.
Create your fish.
Draw and color your fish.
Create a fish out of items you find in your house.
Watch this video on the steps to take to make your own fish.
5. Analyze & Interpret Data:
Explain in your notebook why you choose each adaptation and how each helps them survive their environment.
6. Communicate Findings:
Share your fish with SWEP by sending us a photo of your creation. Post your photos on social media and tag us @sweptahoe on Instagram and/or to @swep4 on Facebook. Be sure to hashtag and follow #SWEPsnippets. If you cannot post directly yourself, send your photos or video to SWEP (Jenna@4swep.org).
What’s Going On
See the species of Lake Tahoe’s aquatic food web in this PDF from UC Davis’s Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
Did you know some fish can climb trees? Learn about some fascinating fish adaptations in this list of 15 Fish With Amazing Talents.
Watch this animated TED-ed video on the various fish body types.
Thank you to our many partners for supporting student's science, sustainability and outdoor learning experiences.