Activity: Diagraming the Fish Life Cycle

Summary: Students learn about fish life cycles and then diagram the progression from egg to adult.

You Need:


  • Explain how, just like all animals, fish have a basic task — to reproduce. Discuss the basic fish life cycle.
  • Describe the two major reproductive strategies of animals. Contrast fish reproductive strategy with human reproductive strategy.
  • Describe spawning strategies used by Great Lakes fish. See the Reproductive Strategies fact sheet.
  • Create student groups and help each group select a Great Lakes fish.
  • Groups use the Internet or visit the library to learn more about the life cycle and preferred spawning habitat of their chosen fish.
  • Groups illustrate the fish’s life cycle using software or classroom materials. See the Fish Life Cycle worksheet.

Activity Extension

Students hone charting skills using the data from the Reproductive Strategy chart (see bottom of Reproductive Strategy worksheet) to create a simple bar chart (electronically using Excel or on paper). The objective for this activity is to encourage students to consider how to present data by creating a chart. Also see: Charting and Graphing Tips


FLOW Development Team Acknowledgements Jim Diana, Professor of Natural Resources, School of Natural Resources and Environment and Associate Research Scientist, Center for Great Lakes & Aquatic Sciences, University of Michigan College of Literature Science and Arts; and graduate students from Professor Diana’s 2007 course, Biology and Ecology of Fishes.