Smells Fishy


Our third installment of animal dissection was the fish.

Since we had so much trouble with the preserved fish last year, I decided this year we would dissect a fresh fish.  One of my students fishes with his dad often and was able to catch us two Sand Perch for this very exciting event.

The fish was frozen and then thawed just before we needed them for the class. PERFECT!  I am fabulous at thinking ahead like this.

The Co-op’s Administration kicked us out of the building and forced us to dissect outside, in the wind, in the cold.  Ok, they really didn’t kick us out, but they did ask.   It was a beautiful day, so we went outside.

The student’s opened the bag and pulled out the fish.  One student got up right then and there, ran inside and came out looking like this.  His buddy thought it was a great idea and so copied him.  They used rubber-bands to secure their shirts over their noses.

They couldn’t stand the smell.   LOL  It was pretty bad and I was thankful we were outside.  Our class is the hour before lunch and the smell would not have been very appetizing for dining.

The first thing we always do is examine the outside of the specimen.  Here you see the students examining the fins.  Some fins have spikes and some are rays.  This is to be noted in their lab write-up.

The fish is looking pretty good and I congratulated myself for getting fresh specimens.  This was going to be a great experiment.  Oh Yeah!  I’m awesome!

Next up, we look at the inside of the mouth.

So far so good!

Next step is to look at the gills and note what they look like and how many the fish have.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of that.

Then the best part begins.  The students take a scalpel and cut off the side of the fish to expose the inside.  We are to identify and label all parts of the innerds.

The students make four cuts to make a rectangle shaped opening and then…

All the guts just slide right out.  It was disgusting.    So much for my brilliant idea to get a fresh fish!   Freezing it before hand was a bad idea.  At least I am still awesome.

We identified as much as we could, but it wasn’t easy.

The above photo is of the stomach’s contents.  We think it ate shrimp and a little squid thingie.   Squid thingie is technical for “we don’t know what it is, but it looks interesting to be called squid thingie”.

This young lady, below, kept saying ewww and gross and disgusting when we had our previous classes.  This time; however, she dived right in.  The boys were amazed.  LOL

I am seriously thinking of eliminating this experiment from my class next year.   It just isn’t worth it.

15 responses to “Smells Fishy

  1. ewww and gross and disgusting….

  2. cindy schriver


  3. Dd is very glad we did not do dissection experiments this year. I think I am too. =)

  4. So dissecting a fresh fish vs a preserved one isn’t necessarily better? Will have to think about this in about 2 years.

    • The key word here is FRESH, not fresh then frozen. I live in south Louisiana and have fileted more fish than I can count. Really FRESH fish aren’t so bad. Once you freeze them the slime factor really increases and depending on speed of freezing some organs get damaged in the process. Next time use a fresh fish – have the kiddos dissect one side, flip it over and then filet the other. Who knows when they’ll have to prepare fresh fish for supper. Oh yeah! in LA we can also skip the preserved crawfish and just pick one out of the pot at the next crawfish boil. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

      • “The key word here is FRESH, not fresh then frozen’

        Yes, I know that now. lol Next time, I’m thinking of skipping the whole fish thing. 🙂

  5. Not Inadequate


    Can’t you get a whole fish with all the guts still intact from a fishmonger? They have those in FL, right? You should cut up a whole flounder or something! Now THAT would be exciting!

    • I had thought about going to the fish shop and asking for a whole fish, head, guts, and all, but didn’t want to take the chance of them not having anything for me.

      I think flounder would be an odd fish for this project. LOL

  6. The next time we dissect a fish, we’re going fishing first.

  7. That fish looks so much better than the flat one we dissected. But still, the fish was one of our least favorite ones. I will have to ask my dad’s friend to save us something cool for next time.

  8. Awesome! Great idea! Our specimen were pretty dried out and difficult to work with.

  9. I do believe that I can smell the fish from here. =) This will probably be something for the kids to remember and talk about = “You gutted a preserved fish? We gutted a fresh fish and you haven’t lived until you gut a fresh fish.”

  10. Pingback: Module 13 Apologia Biology | APPLIE'S PLACE

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