Fantastic Fish


Cichlids at the Milwaukee County Zoo

Dr. Seuss rhymed “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish,” but there’s a lot more going on under the sea. A fantastic world of colors, shapes, and sizes awaits you. More than 27,000 species of fish live in the oceans, streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds of the world. Some are big, like the 50-foot whale shark; and some are small, like the less-than-half-inch midget dwarf goby. The moray eel likes to eat meat, while the grass carp eats plants. As you can see, there’s a wide variety.

Explore these activities to make an egg-carton fish, “swim” through a fish-shaped maze, and solve a word search. For more fishy fun, be sure to check out Kids Alive on pages 10 and 11 of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s January 2014 Alive* magazine. 

Fish Maze

Wiggle like a worm as you make your way through a fish-shaped maze. Click here for the maze and then print it out. Check your answer here.

Egg-carton Fish

Swim through the sea with this eco-friendly fish made from used egg cartons. All the items you need can be purchased at Walmart, but you can also find them at many craft and hobby stores. Approximate prices are listed next to each item (prices are subject to change). This craft costs less than $1 because all of the items can be used for other activities.

Egg-carton Fish - finished sample

You will need:

  • Cardboard or foam egg cartons
  • Child-size scissors $2
  • Thin paintbrush (4 to 5 inches long) $1
  • Non-toxic orange acrylic paint $1
  • Water-based glue $1
  • Orange construction paper or any stiff paper $2.50/50 sheets
  • Small googly eyes $2/150 in assorted sizes
  • Orange chenille pipe cleaner, cut into 1-inch pieces $2/50 pieces


  1. Cut out 2 individual cups from egg carton with scissors.
  2. With paintbrush, paint outside and bottom of each carton cup. Let paint dry before next step.
  3. Fish body: Put glue around top edge of one carton cup and attach to second cup.
  4. Fins: Click here for an outline of the three fins. Print them, and then cut out the fins. Trace them onto orange construction paper; then cut out fins again.
  5. Glue fins on sides and top of fish (see photo).
  6. Fold each 1-inch pipe cleaner piece in half and glue onto front of fish to make lips (see photo).
  7. Glue on googly eyes and you’re done.

Marine Mentality

After visiting the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Aquatic & Reptile Center, check your answers to these aquatic queries.

1. In what kind of habitat can you find Wisconsin’s state fish?
Wisconsin’s state fish is the musky. Muskies live in both shallow and deep lakes that have lots of plants.
2. How does the California sheephead fish protect itself from predators?
The California sheephead fish has two tricks to protect itself: It wraps itself in a mucus cocoon that masks its scent from predators. And it also will lay on its side as if it were dead.
3. How old can rockfish live to be?
Rockfish live an amazingly long time: up to 200 years!
4. Which fish father holds eggs in its mouth for at least two months?
The silver arowana is known as a mouth-brooder. The male takes fatherhood seriously. He will carry 50 to 250 eggs in his mouth until they hatch and swim free. This bony fish can be found in the Amazon River Basin of South America.
5. Africa’s Lake Nyasa is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world. How many species can be found in the lake?
Africa’s Lake Nyasa—which borders the countries of Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania—is home to about 1,000 species of fish.

Under the Sea Search

This word search contains fish that can be found at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Print it out and see if you can circle each fish name. Then visit the Aquatic & Reptile Center at the Zoo to learn about them. Answers can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or backward.

Activities by Dana Christen
Photos of egg-carton craft by Roberta Weldon

*Only Zoological Society of Milwaukee members can access the current Alive magazine. Past issues of Alive can be accessed by the general public via our publication archive.