NANFA-- Speedy Sticklebacks?

Hoover, Jan J WES (
Sun, 12 Mar 2000 12:40:29 -0600

There was an interesting thread recently regarding sticklebacks. The gist
was, I think, that they were a slow-water species observed in low-velocity
microhabitats in higher velocity macrohabitats. Discussion involved the
adavantages/disadvantages of a weak swimmers inhabiting slow water boundary
layers in swift water. So, how fast can a stickleback swim?

A few days ago, I was flipping through a 1954 book by Frank Lane titled
"Nature Parade." Lane had a chapter on fish swimming abilities and compiled
a table of "fastest reasonably authenticated" speeds for a group of 40
fishes and fish-like organisms. The stickleback (Gasterosteus) was listed
as the 6th slowest and its speed, measured with a stopwatch, was listed at
6.8 mph. This doesn't sound fast but if my math is correct, it is
equivalent to 299 cm/s! This would be pretty fast for a small fish. Burst
speeds (highest attainable speeds) measured under controlled conditions for
juvenile sturgeons, salmonids, and a mackeral are substantially lower:
50-150 cm/s. Lane's rankings seem right, though, suggesting that the older
field-measurments of fish speed were inflated but when compared among taxa
were relatively correct.

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