The Fastest Fish

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

The Fastest Fish

August 29, 2015

Just as you can walk slowly or run fast, fish can go fast or slow, too. And some fish can swim at amazing speed. The sailfish, named for the funny fin along its back, can power through the water at up to 68 miles an hour — as fast as cars on a highway, and faster than a cheetah! Pushing through water is much harder work than running through air, so that’s pretty impressive speed – especially for a fish that weighs 200 pounds. The sailfish can grow to up to 10 feet long, including its long, pointy, sword-like nose. Best of all, the sailfish can change color to confuse fish who might eat it, and to “talk” to other sailfish. A sailfish will turn light blue with yellow stripes when it’s excited, and can also turn silver, purple, brown or gray. Of course, if it’s zooming by at 68 miles an hour, it’s hard to see its color at all!

Wee ones: If a sailfish can turn blue, silver, purple, brown or gray, how many colors is that?

Little kids: If you swam alongside a 10-foot sailfish, how much longer than you would the fish be? (You can round your height to the nearest foot!)  Bonus: If the sailfish swims 68 miles in an hour, and you drive your car 1 mile an hour faster, how fast is your car?

Big kids: No one knows the exact number, but scientists say cheetahs can run 59 miles per hour. If the sailfish can swim 68 miles an hour, how much faster is the fish?  Bonus: The fastest human swimmer ever swam about 5 1/2 miles an hour. About how many times as fast is the sailfish? (Hint if needed: If the fish were just twice as fast, how fast would that be…?)

Answers:
Wee ones: 5 colors.

Little kids: Different for everyone…subtract your height in feet from 10.  Bonus: 69 miles an hour.

Big kids: 9 miles an hour faster.  Bonus: About 12 times as fast! Twice as fast would give us 11 miles an hour, and 68 is about 6 times as fast as that.

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.