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Fish Facts: Lesson for Kids

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Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Bachelor's degree in biology from Virginia Tech and Master's degrees in environmental science & policy and special education from Johns Hopkins University. She has 20 years of teaching experience in public, private, and informal educational settings.

You may have seen them in the ocean, in an aquarium...or on your dinner plate! Fish are important and fascinating animals. This lesson teaches the basics of what makes a fish, a fish. Updated: 12/19/2019

Fish Features

Fish are different sizes, shapes, and colors, but they all have some things in common. All fish are vertebrates, meaning they have backbones (though not all backbones are made of bone; we'll get to that in a minute.) They all have skeletons that give them their shape and protect their internal organs. Many fish, like goldfish and tuna, have bony skeletons. Others have skeletons made of cartilage, which is the flexible stuff that makes up the tip of your nose.

Fish need gills to breathe in the water. Gills are slits on each side of the head that take oxygen from the water, where it then travels into the fish's blood. A few kinds of fish, called lungfish, can breathe air at the surface.

Fish have fins that help them balance and swim. Most fish have strong tail fins that push them through the water, but you may also see fins on their backs, sides, and bellies. Some fish have special fins that let them walk short distances on land.

Most fish are covered in tough scales that help protect their skin. Sharks have special scales that look and feel like tiny teeth.

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  • 0:04 Fish Features
  • 1:05 Where Do Fish Live?
  • 1:42 What Do Fish Eat?
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Where Do Fish Live?

All fish live in water, but their homes are still very different. Some live in freshwater habitats, like lakes and rivers, while others live in the salty ocean. Fish that live in bays get a mix of freshwater and saltwater. You can find fish in deep, cold water, but also in warmer and shallower water.

Fish don't always stay in the same place. They might migrate, meaning they travel long distances to find food or mates. Some fish, like salmon, even move back and forth between freshwater and saltwater.

Fish may live alone, or in groups of fish, called schools. Some schools have hundreds of fish.

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