FishFish AnatomySawfishSharksFossil SharksSkates & RaysGeneral TopicsTeaching ResourcesRelated Museum Research


Fish display a wide range of colors and also color patterns. Skin coloration can have countless functions. Numerous fish have color patterns that help them mix in through their environment. This may allow the fish to avoid being watched by a predator. Part fish, such together the flat fishes (Pleuronectiformes), can adjust their skin coloration to enhance the bordering habitat.

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Fish can additionally have disruptive markings come hide human body parts. Species such as the jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus), high-hat (Equetus acuminatus) and some point of view fishes (Pomacanthidae), have dark lines the run with the eyes. This lines may serve to hide the eye so the other pets can no tell where the fish is feather or even if it is a fish. Also, horizontal lines may be a sight-line because that aiming strikes on prey. Part fishes, favor butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae), have actually spots on your body the resemble eyes. This might serve to confused prey and also predators alike. In enhancement to coloration, part fish, favor the sea dragon (Phyllopteryx), have actually body shapes that can more mimic their habitat.


Fish coloration can also be valuable in capturing prey. Plenty of sharks exhibit coloration recognized as respond to shading. Sharks the have respond to shading room dark top top the dorsal (upper) side and light ~ above the ventral (lower) side. V this color scheme any prey looking down on the shark will see a dark shark versus a dark sea bottom, making it tough to finding the shark. Conversely, any type of prey feather up at the shark, will view the light ship of the shark ~ above the light background of the ocean surface water lit through the sun or moon.


Coloration can also be supplied to advertise. Fishes favor the darters (Percidae) and sticklebacks (Gasterosteus), might use color to attract and recognize potential mates.


Light Organs

Some naval fish have actually the ability to produce light v bioluminescence. Most light-producing fish live in mid-water or are bottom-dwelling deep sea species. In fish, bioluminescence can occur two various ways: v symbiotic bacteria life on the fish or v self-luminous cells called photophores. Some species of deep sea angler fish (Lophiiformes) might use this light to lure prey, when others, prefer the Atlantic midshipman (Porichthys plectrodon), might use this irradiate to lure mates.

Deep water bioluminescent organisms. Photograph courtesy NOAA


Many fish may use venom together a form of defense. Most venomous fish provide the toxins with the usage of a spine. Poisonous spines are discovered in a wide selection of fish consisting of stingrays, chimaeras, scorpionfishes, catfishes, toadfishes, rabbit fishes, and stargazers. Awful spines deserve to have poison glands follow me the grove that the spine, as with stingrays, or in ~ the basic of the spine, together in part catfish. If humans deserve to be stung by a multitude the fishes, few species space life-threatening.


Electric Organs

Elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and also rays) own an electrical sense system well-known as the ampullae the Lorenzini. This system consists of plenty of tiny gel-filled canals positioned top top the head the the fish. V this system these fishes are able come detect the weak electric fields created by prey. That is additionally believed the these fish can use this sense to detect the electrical fields castle induce when swimming v the earth’s magnetic field, together a kind of compass. Due to the fact that the fishes room able to generate the areas they detect, this is a type of active electro-orientation.

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Some species of skates and also rays likewise have electricity-producing organs. The electrical rays have paired electric organs located on either side of the head, behind the eyes. With these organs, electrical rays room able come shock and also stun your prey. The skate’s electric organs are situated near the tail. However, these electrical organs only develop weak electrical fields not qualified of stunning prey. Researchers think that the skate’s electric organs are used for communication and also mate location.


The electrical eel can additionally produce electrical fields. These eels use weak electrical fields for navigation, prey location, and also communication. Additionally, this eels deserve to produce strong electric areas to shock potential prey. The toughness of the “shock” is regarded the dimension of the eel, with larger people being able come produce much more of a “shock.”