Discover Nature NotesMore posts

The Color of Fish

May 14, 2018

Color is important to fish.  It’s used for camouflage, mate selection and defense.  While easily seen in tropical aquarium fish, our native fishes also have special colors.

In camouflage, the color of the fish imitates or blends with its surroundings.  Most fish use countershading.  A counter-shaded fish has a light-colored underside and darker topside.  Counter-shaded fish blend into their surroundings from wherever they’re viewed.  The light underside blends with the bright water surface when the fish is viewed from below.  The dark backside blends with the stream or pond bottom when the fish is viewed from above.  Catfish are counter-shaded.

Color is also used to attract mates.  The redbelly dace and the bleeding shiner are ordinarily nondescript minnows. But a spectacular color change takes place in the males during breeding season.  Bright red markings appear on the undersides of the dace and in the fins of the bleeding shiner.  Another small fish is the orange-throat darter.  Its color intensifies with alternating blue-green bars and brick-red blotches on the sides and bright orange beneath the throat and undersides.  The longear sunfish is one of Missouri’s showiest.

Fish are also able to change their colorations based on mood. A threatening coloration or pattern can be used to ward off others from their territory.

For most fish species spring and summer are the seasons when breeding coloration is at its peak.

Missouri’s Fish

  • Missouri is home to more than 200 kinds of fish — more than are found in our neighboring states.
  • Different waters have their own characteristic fish. Darters generally prefer rocky riffles in clear Ozark streams. The sickle fin chub is found only in the muddy, turbulent waters of the Missouri and lower Mississippi rivers. Learning about fish means learning about their habitats.
  • Except for lampreys—which represent a very primitive group of vertebrates that lack jaws—Missouri’s fishes are all “bony fishes,” a group that includes nearly all the fish in the world today except for sharks and rays.
  • In Missouri, fishing is a more than $400 million industry, including tackle, permits, bait, guides, boats, boat rentals, food, lodging and transportation. It is an activity that draws many non-fishers into the outdoors, too!
  • In Missouri, anyone with a fishing permit can possess native non-game species in aquaria, if they are collected according to the rules outlined in the Wildlife Code of Missouri.

Learn more about Missouri's fish with MDC's Field Guide.

 

native_fishes_Brandon_Brown.jpg

Longear Sunfish
Longear Sunfish
One of Missouri's most colorful fish

Camo Fish | National Geographic

See camouflaged fish from around the world in this National Geographic video
See camouflaged fish from around the world in this National Geographic video

OgDarterfish004.jpg

Orange-throat Darter
Orange-throat Darter
Orange-throat Darter

Blue catfish_2.jpg

Blue Catfish
Blue Catfish
Blue Catfish

Post new comment

Recent Posts

Opossum mother and babes

Missouri's Marsupial Moms

May 07, 2018

MISSOURI'S MARSUPIAL MOMS:  They may be scruffy scavengers, but these mammal moms are made for mobility.  Opossums are the only marsupials in North America.  Females have fur-lined front pouches to raise their large broods who are born blind, hairless, and weighing less than a dime.  Their young will feed and grow in the pouch. Opossum mothers will carry them on their back after that. In May, the babes will head out on their own.  Watch opossums in the pouch and on the go and learn about their special skills, like playing possum, in this week's Discover Nature Note.

wood ducks

Five Things to Watch In Nature

Apr 30, 2018

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN NATURE:  Spring may have sprung a bit later this year but this week should be popping.  With the 5th of May coming up this Saturday, we're featuring five things to watch for in nature this week as you head outdoors.  Some are happening in the woods, others underwater, and a few in backyards or open spaces.  A great source to keep up with natural happenings throughout the year as well as vibrant photographs is our natural events calendar.  Here are five natural events from the calendar in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Black Bears

Be Bear Aware

Apr 23, 2018

BE BEAR AWARE: Black bears have been making a comeback in Missouri's southern forests. Get to know the black bear, how to identify their tracks, watch them in the wild, and learn how you can be bear aware in Missouri in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Archive

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes