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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BABY FISH:

Q. Do baby fish have the same biological classification as their adults?

Q. How many different kinds of baby fishes live in Canada?

Q. How are baby fish caught?

Q. How big are baby fish?

Q. What do baby fish eat?

Q. Where do baby fish live?

Q. How do fish develop from eggs?

Q. What is the anatomy of a baby fish?

Q. How are baby fish fixed and preserved for storage after being collected in the field?

Q. Where did the information on these baby fish in this Web site come from?

Q. Are baby fish used as human food somewhere in the world?

Q. Is there an organization which has biologists who specialize in the study of baby fish?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q. Do baby fish have the same biological classification as their adults?
A. Yes, they do. Baby fish or larval fish, as defined here, are the early developmental stages of adult fish, identified with their common name and their scientific names, including Family, Genus and Species. Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) gave us the modern scheme of classification for plants and animals. Linnaeus was a botanist connected with the University of Uppsala in Sweden. In this Web Site the fishes are divided into Phylum, Class, Superorder, Order, sometimes Sub Order, sometimes Super Family, Family, sometimes Sub-Family, sometimes Tribe, Genus, Species, sometimes Sub-Species and the Describer, the last name of the person who first described the species in a published paper. The entire biological classification of the fishes represented in this Web Site is shown in:

See: Biological Classifications of the Baby Fishes shown in this Web Site

The scientific names, i.e., genus and species are composed of Latin words or latinized words derived from Greek or less often from another language. The first part of the scientific name is the genus (plural genera). It always begins with a capital letter. The second part is the name of the species and the third (when present) is that of subspecies. The species and subspecies parts of the name never begin with a capital letter and are always lower case letters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. How many different kinds of baby fishes live in Canada?
A. There about 750+ species of fish in Canada. The freshwaters of Canada contain about 180 species of fish; the contiguous Atlantic Ocean waters of Canada contain about 260 species of fish; and the contiguous Pacific Ocean waters contain about 330 species of fish. This Web site describes 25 species of freshwater baby fish or ca. 14% of known species in the area; 25 species of Atlantic Ocean baby fish or ca. 10% of known species in the area and 25 species of Pacific Ocean baby fish or ca. 8% of known species in the area. Eventually, additional species of fish will be identified in Canadian waters so these numbers will increase slightly in time. Most species of fish in Canadian waters are already known so it will only be a few additional species. From past knowledge and experience of fishery biologists, it is to be expected that the specific abundant species today will change as the environment in Canadian waters change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. How are baby fish caught?
A. Baby fish can be captured by a variety of methods with specific equipment. Because they are so small and usually spread out in the water, baby fish are strained from the water by different kinds of fine nets or they can be attracted by lights at night and caught in light traps. It is important to know the spawning season of the species of fish.

See: Collection Methods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. How big are baby fish?
A. Baby fish vary in size from about 3mm (1/8 in.) to 20mm (3/4 in.), depending upon the species and upon the age of the baby fish. The different species of fish throughout the world vary widely in size and anatomy. Large fish usually have large babies and small fish usually have small babies.

See: Illustrations of Different Sized Baby Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. What do baby fish eat?
A. Baby fish living in freshwater lakes and streams eat mainly small invertebrate animals.
As an example, in Lake Opinicon, Ontario in 1969, it was found that yellow perch babies ate copepods of the genus Cyclops (86.4% of the time), nauplii of copepods (11.4% of the time), and cladocerans of the genus Bosmina (1.5% of the time) (1). During the same time, largemouth bass babies ate copepods of the genus Cyclops (35.4% of the time), cladocerans of the genus Bosmina (26.1% of the time) followed by smaller amounts of nauplii of copepods, cladocerans of the genus Chydorus and cladocerans of the genus Daphnia (Ref. 02). These results indicate that baby yellow perch spend more time in open limnetic water than baby largemouth bass do. A variety of examples of invertebrate animals that freshwater baby fish eat is shown.

See: Freshwater Baby Fish Foods


B. Baby fish living in the marine environment eat a variety of small invertebrate animals.
The marine environment is extremely complex with many different communities of invertebrate animals and since baby fish are opportunistic, they eat whatever food items are available in their immediate vicinity. A variety of examples of invertebrate animals that marine baby fish eat is shown.

See: Marine Baby Fish Foods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. Where do baby fish live?
A. Fish are unique among all vertebrates– no other vertebrate order has its babies occupying so many different habitats and displaying such widely diverse anatomical features. One reason why so few baby fish have not been described is because many live in deep open water even though they hatch from eggs laid in shallow or surface waters. Neither adult nor baby fish live just anywhere, for, like deer, rabbits or warblers, each species lives within a definite area within "their" range of habitats. Since the habitats of baby fish are usually somewhat different from where their adults live, the search for young fishes must not be biased by knowledge of their adult behaviours. Biologists are still learning exactly where all baby fish live. A thorough knowledge of their whereabouts from egg through larva, juvenile and into adult is known for surprisingly few species. Certain species of baby fish display completely passive behaviour while others show active dispersive movements. The active or passive movement of newly hatched fishes away from places where they are hatched is important. Different species of baby fishes live in different parts of water bodies. At times, passive babies are carried by wind- driven currents into offshore regions (pelagic or limnetic regions), while at other times they remain quiet among shoreline vegetation. On the other hand, it is those species with dispersive swimming movements or innate "wanderlust" that are so difficult to find and capture. Fish with active swimming movements are more successful in any body of water because they disperse the furthest from the spawning grounds. Fish larvae which remain within shallow littoral regions usually possess darker patterns of pigmentation than those that disperse away from shallow waters. Many baby fish living in deep open waters (pelagic or limnetic regions) are mainly transparent and possess few melanophores. See: melanophores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. How do fish develop from eggs?
A. Fish develop from eggs laid somewhere in water.

See: Development of Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. What is the anatomy of a baby fish?
A. The anatomy of baby fish is similar but different from that of adult fish.

See: Baby Fish Anatomy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. How are baby fish fixed and preserved for storage after being collected in the field?

A. In order to fix or harden baby fish when taken alive from some collecting device in the field, straight unbuffered formalin (40% formaldehyde solution) may be poured into the collecting bottle with the mixed collection of plankton and baby fish. With this procedure, live or dying fish will be killed and fixed rapidly, often violently in the strong formalin. When using a live trap, a slurp gun or a minnow net, it may be preferable to first euthanize the baby fish with an overdose of an anesthetic such as MS-222 or Tricaine and then transfer them into dilute formalin or a high percentage alcohol.


The bottles with the contained collections brought in from the field should be urgently attended to in the lab within several days. The collection should be put in a flat pie plate-like dish and using a flexible forceps, the baby fish can be picked out from the plankton and transferred into small glass or plastic vials. A label written with indelible ink should be added at this time. Then, dilute formalin (2 - 4% solution) may be poured into the bottle with the baby fish. Once fixed and acclimatized (held for a day or more for most baby fish collections), specimens can then be maintained in alcohol or in lesser concentrations of formalin (13% phosphate-buffered solutions) for long periods of time.

Baby fish can also be directly fixed and preserved, without formalin, by dehydration in straight or a very high percentage alcohol solutions (95 – 100% ethanol); especially necessary if the tissues might be eventually used for DNA analyses. However, put into alcohol at any stage, the tissues of baby fish will become opaque, shriveled, shrunken, and hardened, sometimes to the point of becoming brittle. It is preferable to have baby fish stored for long periods in 2 separate solutions, 1) a 13% phosphate-buffered solution of dilute formalin for morphological studies and 2) a high percentage alcohol solution for DNA studies. After fixation, some collection managers, inspite of these results, prefer to transfer the now formalin-fixed baby fish to alcoholic solutions (typically 40% or 50% isopropanol or 70% ethanol) for long-term preservation along side standard ichthyological collections.

And finally, one might consider storing illustrations or photographs of baby fish in light-tight museum-type containers for certain morphological studies in the future. Examine carefully the black and white illustrations on this web site for consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. Where are good larval fish collections being held?
A. Larval fish collections are being held in a variety of places in different countries around the world.
It is recommended that any small well cataloged larval fish collection be deposited in one of the collection sites listed among the following permanent collections.

See: Larval Fish Collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. Where did the information on these baby fish in this Web site come from?
A. The information on these baby fish came from a variety of sources. I was personally involved in the search for and identification of numerous species of North American baby fish. I spent most of my time in freshwaters because of convenience and lack of researchers. However, I spent some time with Atlantic and Pacific species, too. The page of references shows most of the published literature used to produce this Web site.

See: List of References

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. Are Baby Fish used as human food somewhere in the world?

Yes, several species of fish are caught with seines and tow nets in several parts of the world, i.e. Europe and Asia, and utilized as human food. They are caught, cleaned, boxed and shipped for consumers. They are consumed in several different ways, mixed in salads, sandwiches, sauces and other preparations.

See: Baby Fish utilized as human food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q. Is there an organization which has people who specialize in the study of baby fish?
A. Yes, the organization is the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society.

About the the Early Life History Section: The Early Life History Section (ELHS) is an interest- discipline subunit of the American Fisheries Society (AFS). It is the only organization of this kind devoted to interests in the early life history of freshwater, estuarine, and marine fishes, and related matters. Through their newsletter, Stages, and their Web page, they encourage and facilitate exchange of knowledge and ideas, update members on current research, publications, meetings, and other events, provide feature articles and reviews and communicate Section and pertinent AFS business and concerns. The exchange of knowledge and ideas are also faciltated through (1)the annual Larval Fish Conference, (2)special symposia, sessions, and workshops usually held as part of annual AFS and other meetings, and (3)conference and symposium publications. Through ad-hoc committees, they provide useful reference and educational products. For direct contact with other members, they provide a periodically updated membership directory.

History of the Early Life History Section: Formation of the Early Life History Section was unanimously authorized by the general membership of the American Fisheries Society during the 1979 American Fisheries Society annual meeting in West Yellowstone, Montana. Bylaws were proposed and approved the following year, and the Early Life History Section was officially sanctioned on 22 September 1980 at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Early Life History Section membership rapidly grew to over 300 and were granted voting membership on the American Fisheries Society's Executive Committee (now the Governing Board). The annual Larval Fish Conferences serve as the focal point of Early Life History Section activities which evolved from a series of informal, freshwater-oriented, symposia that began in 1977. The current Larval Fish Conferences, which are hosted and sponsored by various organizations throughout North America (occasionally overseas), cover a broad international spectrum of freshwater, estuarine, and marine topics related to fish early life history.

See: Early Life History Section

Also, see: The Web site: LarvalBase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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