Make your own deep sea glow-in-the-dark lanternfish. Then have a fishstick party!

Have you ever heard of a glow-in-the-dark fish? There are many kinds of lanternfish. Each kind of lanternfish glows with a special pattern of body lights. These lights, called photophores, help lanternfish survive in the darkness of the deep sea!

The pattern of photophores along the side of its body help the lanternfish find members of its own species. The photophores on its belly match the dim light that filters down from the ocean's surface and help the lanternfish hide from hungry fish below.



  1. Print the lanternfish patterns. Cut out the patterns.
  2. Glue one of the lanternfish patterns to a piece of cardboard.
  3. Trim the cardboard to match the fish's shape.
  4. Glue the other lanternfish pattern to the other side of the cardboard.
  5. Paint the light spots, or photophores, with glow-in-the-dark paint.
  6. Attach the fish to the stick with tape.
  7. Explore the deep sea life of Monterey Bay Canyon on our web site to learn more about other strange and glowing deep sea fishes!

Fish Stick Party Ideas

Schooling fishsticks make a great activity in the classroom or for a party.


  1. Make a copy of the lanternfish pattern for each child. For a BIG impact, enlarge the fish on a copy machine.
  2. Follow steps 2-4 of the instructions.
  3. Divide the paper fishes into groups (four or five fish per group).
  4. Give each fish group a unique pattern of lights: use a black marker to darken specific spots on each fish in a group. (The light patterns on both sides of a fish should match. Each group has a different pattern, but fish in the same group have the same pattern to show they're the same species.)
  5. You can paint the light spots with glow-in-the-dark paint to represent bioluminescent spots.
  6. Attach the fishes to the sticks with tape.

How to Play

  1. Mix up all of the fishsticks. Explain that each species of lanternfish has a unique pattern of body lights to help them find mates.
  2. Have children hold their fishsticks up to attract the attention of the other fish with the same light pattern. Look-alikes unite into their groups. (If you've painted glow-in-the-dark spots on the fishes, turn out the lights for this part of the activity.)
  3. Have the children talk about how bioluminescence helps lanternfishes survive.