60 minutes

Students will investigate the features of fish.


Background information about fish anatomy can be found in the Fact Sheet: Fish Anatomy.

This lesson has an associated Presentation that you will use during the lesson, or alternatively, you may choose to print the slides out to facilitate discussion with your class.

Each student will require a copy of Student Worksheet: Fish Functions.

This lesson requires students to have access to non-fiction books on fish and/or the internet. It also assumes that students have some prior knowledge of simple biological classification.

Western Australian curriculum

Science Science understanding Biological sciences ACSSU043
English Language Text structure and organisation ACELA1504
English Literacy Interacting with others ACELY1699
English Literacy Interpreting, analysing, evaluating ACELY1702


  1. Share Part 1 of the Presentation with students and for each image ask, ‘Is this a fish?’
  2. Share Part 2 of the Presentation with students. Explain that all of these are actually fish. Ask students if they are aware that fish are classified into three main groups and if so, what are these three groups? Fish are classified into three main group (classes) – bony fish (includes what we commonly think of as a fish); cartilaginous fish (which include the sharks and rays) and the jawless fish (lampreys belong to this group).
  3. Share Part 3 of the Presentation with students. These are all bony fish. Besides a bony skeleton, what do they all have in common?
  4. Allow students to work in pairs or small groups with books and/or access to the internet to discover some features of bony fish.
  5. Following their research time, ask each pair (group) to share a feature they discovered. Use the answers to create a class mind map and answer the question, ‘What is a Fish?’
  6. (optional) Ask students; are there any exceptions to these characteristics? For example, do all fish have scales? Do all fish have fins? Ask students to think of examples, or research as a class.
  7. Using the features that students have determined answer the ‘what is a fish’ question, ask them to further research the functions of these features and how they assist the fish to survive in its environment and record these on Student Worksheet: Fish Functions.


Student Worksheet

Student Worksheet: Fish Functions

Recommended Resources

PowerPoint Presentation: Is it a fish?

Additional Resources

Parish, S. 2008 Amazing Facts about Australian Marine Fishes, Steve Parish Publishing, Queensland.

Poster: Bony fish – external anatomy

Poster: Bony fish – internal anatomy

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Bony Fishes, https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/bony-fish 


fish anatomy, classification, living things, fish classification, features, characteristics, bony fish, finfish