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Fish feeding methods model

Use tools such as pipettes and tongs to model how different fish feed.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Science topic (2005 curriculum connection): 
Life Science: Needs of Living Things (grade 1)
Life Science: Animal Growth and Changes (grade 2)
Lessons activity is in: 
  • tray of water
  • foam bits, big med small
  • tea strainer
  • spatula with slots
  • tongs
  • clothespins
  • pipettes
  • basters

The pieces of sponge represent different kinds of food. The utensils represent different kinds of ways that fish catch food.
What is the easiest “food” to catch with each kind of mouth? The food has to fit in the mouth!

Some fish feed by biting pieces off their prey e.g. sharks, piranha, adult salmon. The tongs and clothes pegs grabbing onto large pieces of foam model this kind of feeding behaviour.
Some fish suction feed. Food that is smaller than the mouth is sucked into it by a pressure difference when the mouth is opened. Most bony fish feed in this way. The baster sucking up medium/small foam pieces or the pipette sucking up small foam pieces models this kind of feeing behaviour.
Some fish feed by moving forward with their mouth open as they approach prey, so that the prey becomes stuck in their gill raker while the water moves through the gills - called ram or lunge feeding. This is modelled by the slotted spoon catching medium pieces of foam (and large pieces if they fit in the spoon "mouth"). Fish that feed in this manner include herring, mackerel, tuna and young salmon.
Filter feeding is a kind of lunge feeing where the food is not selected visually. As water flows over baleen or gill rakers, plankton or other small food particles are trapped in it. The tea strainer and small foam pieces model this kind of feeding. The grey and blue whales, the megamouth and basking sharks feed have baleen. Barnacles and mussels also filter feed.

Attached documents: 
Grades tested: 
Gr K
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Brenda Koch
Fiona Laporte
Teaching site: 
Aboriginal Focus Elementary
Activity originally developed and delivered: 

Aboriginal Focus School with the Scientist in Residence Program