Science Questions

Where do fish go in winter?

Art by Alton Langford

Where do fish go in winter?

You have probably noticed that some streams and lakes are covered with ice in the winter, so you might assume that the fish have to go somewhere else. However, very few lakes and large streams freeze all the way to the bottom.

The ice that does form always floats as a layer on top, which also provides pretty good insulation against heat loss. So the water underneath is protected and doesn’t freeze. Fish settle in where the water is warmest and they don’t move around much. Because this is part of their natural life cycle, they don’t need scarves and mittens to get through the coldest days!

And it’s a good thing that ice does float. If it didn’t, then lakes would freeze from the bottom up, and that would be bad for the fish!