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Form and function

An LSU Museum of Natural Science presentation to

accompany the activity

Types and Function of fins

All Fish have fins! Each fin shape has a unique shape and
Dorsal- (top fin) Helps keep the fish upright. Also used for
sudden direction changes.
Pectoral- These are the pair of side fins that help the fish move in
different directions and aids in the ability to swim and steer.
Sometimes have spines used for defense.

Dorsal fin

Pectoral fin

Types and Function of fins

Pelvic- Located on the bottom of the fish. Most
often used as brakes.
Anal- used to stabilize fish
Additional fins:
Adipose- tiny fin between dorsal and caudel fins

Pelvic fin

Anal fin

Caudel (Tail) fin

This fin is used to propel the fish through the
water, pick up speed, and make turns.
Rounded caudal fin allows for effective acceleration and
maneuvering but in general is found on fish that do not swim
long distances because of large amounts of drag
Truncated caudal fin straight tipped tail; allows for quick turns
and short burst of speed
Emarginated caudal fin has the least amount of drag; fin has
two lobes
Forked caudal fin- 2 lobes, helps reduce turbulance
Lunate caudal fin- tend to be fastest fishes, maintain speeds

Body shapes of Fish

Sagitiform elongated tubular body layout that
is arrow shaped; allows fish to strike quickly.
(Example: gar, barracuda)

Depression wide, flat

body shapes that all fish
to rest on the bottom.
(Example: flounder)

Body shapes of Fish

Compressiform fish that
are laterally compressed; tall,
thin body shape that allows
fish to enter vertical crevices;
allows for quick bursts of
speed and quick turns.
Fusiform: streamlined with
pointed ends - shaped like a
plane; helps to lower frictional
resistance, and allows them to
move through the water
extremely fast.

Body shapes of Fish

Anguilliform fish that are long
and skinny; these fish slither like
snakes; allows them to maneuver
into narrow openings and resist the
force of current.
Globiform these fish are almost
round or globe-shaped.
Taeniform thin ribbon like shape; good for hiding in
crevices and cracks.








Japanese art of fish printing

How it works:
1. Paint plastic fish
2. Press painted fish onto paper to make impression.
Label parts if desired.

Build you own Frankenfish

Purpose: Students will learn about fish anatomy and
morphology by building their own fish.


Fish part templates

Construction paper
Pencil and paper

On-line Resources
Fish anatomy print-out
Enchanted learning

Basic information on fish

Gyotaku fish