Fish Feeding Frenzy (GMHDRNC)

Summary:

Visit the state’s largest aquarium and learn about Arkansas’ native fishes, their basic biology and eating habits. Just avoid the splash zone!

Grade Level:

K - adult

Recommended Setting:

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center aquarium

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-534-0011

Duration:

30 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

10 - 50

Objectives:

  • Learn the basic biology of fish.
  • Understand the dynamic environment of Arkansas’ rivers and oxbow lakes.
  • See how different species of fish catch and eat their prey.

Key Terms*:

Bottom feeder

Fish

Ichthyology

Native

Oxbow lake

Piscivorous

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Fish food and equipment

Background:

Icthyology is the study of fish. Fish are cold-blooded and use gills to breathe. There are about 50 fish in the GMHDRNC aquarium; the biggest one is the alligator gar.

Procedure:

  1. Before the program, gather the goldfish and sinking pellets.
  2. Begin by introducing the facility and the aquarium. The aquarium at Delta Rivers holds about 20,000 gallons and has two sections. The main aquarium or the oxbow exhibit has native fish found in the oxbow lakes of Arkansas. Oxbow lakes are created when natural phenomena such as earthquakes cause a river to change its course. In most cases, the river and lake are gradually separated, and fish that would normally be only in rivers are left in the new oxbow lake.
  3. Before feeding the fish, inform the participants on the kinds of fish in the aquarium and what and how they eat.
    • In the aquarium, there are bass, catfish, several different kinds of gar and others. Most are piscivorous, meaning they eat other fish. In the wild, they would eat any fish they could swallow, but the center feeds them goldfish. They eat them in different ways. Gars have poor eyesight, so they have to sneak up on their prey. Bass, on the other hand, have good eyesight and use their speed to seize their prey.
    • Some of the fish are bottom feeders and don’t eat the goldfish at all. They may seem to “eat” the gravel at the bottom, but they are actually eating the particles that have fallen on the gravel. Watch them spit the rocks out as they go.
  4. Allow time for participants to ask questions. Questions such as, “Do you have piranhas?” and “Why is the gar carrying the goldfish around?” are common.

Review:

  • What natural bodies of water might host similar fish species?
  • What does piscivorous mean?
  • What adaptations help fish catch their prey?

Glossary:

Bottom feeder – a fish or other animal that feeds on the bottom of a body of water

 

Fish – any of three classes (jawless, cartilaginous and bony) of cold-blooded vertebrate animals living in water and having fins, permanent gills for breathing, and, usually, scales

 

Ichthyology – branch of zoology dealing with fishes

 

Native – living or growing naturally in a region and not introduced from elsewhere

 

Oxbow lake – a crescent-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander of a river is cut off from the main channel

 

Piscivorous – feeding on fishes