Student Research Projects

Role of the Anal Fin in Swimming Kinematics of the Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons)

Student Travis DeGraphenried
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course BIO 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


In this study, I looked at swimming characteristics of the Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons). This freshwater fish has a pronounced anal fin that they undulate to produce swimming forces through vortex generation. I collected swimming kinematics of this fish using a digital video camera (Sony HD-XR200V, 60 frames/sec), in a 15 cm water tunnel (ELD, Inc) over a range of water speeds. Video analysis was performed using Matlab routines developed in Ty Hendrick’s Lab, UNC Chapel Hill. From these measurements, I was able to look at fin amplitude, fin wave speed, and number of fin waves; these characteristics were correlated to swimming speed.