What Is A Baby Fish Called?

Geoff Stadnyk in Fishing Guides on

A baby fish is called a fry.

Fry are defined as freshly hatched fish of a given species, not yet large enough to breed on their own and not fully grown, usually having reached up to about half the size that an adult would be.

Table of Contents
+

When do fry grow into adult fish?

Fry grow quickly given favorable conditions; usually less than 12 months will produce an adult fish capable of laying eggs or breeding. Fry are often used as bait for larger fish, and many species of fry grow into large enough adults to eat smaller fish, including their own fry.

How do fry avoid being eaten before maturing into an adult?

Although fry are small, they can still be prey for larger fish species. Some fish will even eat their own fry before the young become mature adults in order to keep the population size down and produce more food for themselves. With that said, fry do have a few defensive mechanisms against predators.

Fry are able to hide where adults cannot fit

The main characteristic that allows fry to avoid being eaten by large adult fish is their ability to hide from predators in areas that larger fish cannot fit. Humans can easily identify and use these areas, such as the protection of plants or under rocks or other objects that are too big for the adult fish to push out of the way in order to get at the fry.

Fry stick together

Fry will often swim together in shoals. This makes it more difficult for predators to capture a single fry, as they will be surrounded by other fish that can swim away.

Baby fish swimming left to right under a wave

Underwater warning system between fry

Fry are also able to make sounds underwater using their swim bladder (see lateral line system). These warning noises allow the group of fry to stay together and alert nearby fry in order to escape danger.

Fry can change color to warn other nearby fry

Fry use quick movements and changing their color in order to try to escape from predators. This behavior is also used by the young of some species when the adults are preparing to spawn, as a way of attracting a mate for themselves.

Why are baby fish called fry?

It turns out that the word ‘fry’ comes from the Old English ‘fricgean’, which means to eat. This is because for a fish, fry are not very good at swimming and can easily be eaten by their parents or other predators.

What is a group of baby fish called?

There actually is no term for a group of young fish (at least not that I know of!).

Technically, groups of fry are called shoals or schools but that is simply because fry are fish and those are terms given to a group of fish (juvenile or not).

What do fry generally eat?

According to the book “Fishes of Minnesota,” the fry of many species will eat zooplankton, small crustaceans and insect larvae. This is because these prey items are commonly available during early summer when aquatic food chains begin to form naturally in shallow lakes and ponds.

Small fry species may even scavenge dead adults of the same species in shallow fish aggregations.

Are baby fish called tadpoles?

Nope! Baby fish are called fry. Tadpoles is the name given to the young of amphibians (like frogs and toads). This word comes from the Old English ‘tad’, which means small, along with ‘pael’ which means tail.

Tadpole American bullfrog that was swimming.

Are baby fish called guppies?

Wrong again, but I bet you knew that already! They are called fry.

The term “guppy” is a popular name for these small fish and has become interchangeable with the word “baby fish,” but a guppy is actually the name of a fish species that is closely related to the swordtail family.

Time for a fun fact about fry & guppies!

Unlike other small fishes, guppies reproduce by mating for life instead of spawning indiscriminately like some can do.

It’s also important to note that there are numerous types of Guppies, so it’s possible to have hybrid newborn fish (also called mixed fry), which may be the product of various species or simply from parents belonging to different color varieties such as in silverton albino hybrids.

In this way, there could even be a type of fry born without any particular name that could only be identified by its physical traits.

In Summary

Fry is the word used to describe a baby fish. There is no specific term for a group of fry, but they swim in shoals and stick together underwater when threatened by predators.

Geoff Stadnyk

Geoff started fishing as a child in the gorgeous lakes of Mammoth, while on family vacations. His fishing experience includes the use of fly rod and reel. Guided trips along the Madison and Gallatin rivers in Montana, the Frying Pan and Animus in Colorado, and the Deschutes river in Oregon have all paid off and helped make Geoff the angler and writer that he is today.

As an Amazon Associate, Fishermen's Angle earns from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.