Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 23–40 | Cite as

Fish swimming stride by stride: speed limits and endurance

  • J. J. Videler
  • C. S. Wardle


Steadily swimming fish show a species-specific stride length and tail tip amplitude. These are constant over the entire speed range if expressed as a fraction of the body length. The speed of a fish equals the stride length times the tail beat frequency. We describe how maximum tail beat frequencies, and hence maximum swimming speeds, are related to temperature and body length.

Maximum sustained swimming speeds, endurance during swimming at higher speeds, and maximum burst velocities of 27 species are compared. The rate of decline of endurance with increasing speed is either gradual or steep, with only a few cases in between Steady swimmers show the steepest decline.

The published effects of temperature on endurance are not consistent.

The effect of body size on the endurance curve could be investigated for two species. The maximum sustained speed decreases with increasing length, and the slope of the endurance curves steepens with increasing length with the same factor in both species. The maximum burst speed is 10 Ls-1 on average.


Body Length Swimming Speed Stride Length Steep Decline Published Effect 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Videler
    • 1
  • C. S. Wardle
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept of Marine BiologyGroningen UniversityHarenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DAFS Marine LaboratoryAberdeenScotland, United Kingdom

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