Who Lives On a Coral Reef?

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Life on a coral reef is both bizarre and beautiful! Let’s get a first-hand look at the neverending roles of predator and prey. Introduce vocabulary such as adaptations, camouflage, symbiotic, and nocturnal. Lastly, students will be highly entertained by the remarkable array of animals that call a coral reef home.

Video length: 15:54 minutes.

Learning Resources with this Video*

Quizzes – PDF & Online

Coral Reef Crossword

Coral Reef Resources

Survival on a Coral Reef

Simile Sentences

Coral Reef Creature Worksheet

Camouflaged on a Coral Reef Writing Prompt

Coral Reefs: From Threatened to Thriving

Coral Reef Poetry

Draw a Coral Landscape

Universal Resources

National Standards

*Links are active on Full Video page.

Classroom Ideas 

Who Lives On A Coral Reef?

Explore Vocabulary

Identify key vocabulary terms while previewing each video. Prompt students to find the meaning of each word as they watch the video. Example: What does the word nocturnal mean? Think about the meaning of each word as you watch this video about Who Lives On A Coral Reef.

24 Hour Coral Reef Clock

Have students create a 24-hour clock of life on the Coral Reef.  Show who is active during the day vs. who is active at night.


Have students print out a map of the world and identify where large coral reefs are located. 

Art and Ecosystem

Students can create a mock campaign to conserve coral reefs. This could include a campaign poster design, slideshow, persuasive speech presentation, etc.


Use playdoh or clay to create a fish or animal viewed in the video.



Draw a picture of a coral reef as an ecosystem.


Habitat Comparison

Compare different species found in Coral Reefs, Etosha National Park, Amazon Rainforest, and Galapagos Islands with animals in their everyday life. Discuss their differents adaptations and ways to camouflage.



Have students discuss what the taxonomy system is and how it is divided into different classifications.  Then discuss the classification of the animal kingdom and how species in the coral reefs fit into it.


Ecotourism Debate

Create 2 debate teams – one team in favour of ecotourism, the other against. Students can use the video as part of their evidence in a debate, e.g. for/against ecotourism to coral reefs.


Writing Topic

Write a paragraph on why fish need to camouflage, why it is important. Discuss the difference between camouflage as predator and as prey.



Write a poem about one of the fish viewed in the video.

It can be different poems: Sonnet, Limerick, Haiku



Make metaphors using coral reef fish.

Make similes using coral reef fish.

Habitat Comparison

Create a Venn Diagram comparing a rain forest and coral reef.

List the similarities and differences. Write a 3 paragraph paper discussing the similarities and differences of the two.

Exploring Biomes and Ecosystems

Ask students to examine the ecosystem in which they live. Do a brainstorming session in which the class comes up with all the elements of their ecosystem, and how all the elements interact. Once this is done, introduce the Coral Reef ecosystem.


Create a webquest on the corals and fish that live on a coral reef. Students will work in pairs or small groups to complete the webquest, and then present their results.

Coral Reef Presentations

Assign individual presentations on chosen fish or corals from a coral reef. For example, students could create Powerpoint presentations and perhaps recordings/video depictions of stories, as well as poems, picture collages, posters, etc

Aquatic Song

Students will write a song (just the lyrics) about the different fish they learned about in the video. If the teacher has any musical expertise, maybe he or she can create accompanying music. Alternatively, you could use an already existing song and change the lyrics.

Coral Reef Vocabulary

Create vocabulary cards to pin up in the classroom or learning space. Include colorful images. Once students have had sufficient exposure to the vocabulary, do a spelling and knowledge test.

Coral Reef Reading and Research Stations

Set up colorful coral reef reading and research stations in different parts of the classroom.

Coral Reef Sea Life

Explore animal and plant life in the coral reef habitat. Classify animals and define terms such as diurnal and nocturnal. Identify the similarities and differences of these organisms.  

Explore Ecosystems/Food Chains

Create a diagram showing how animals and organisms rely on one another to thrive in the coral reef habitat..


Prompt students to write a report about how people can conserve natural resources and eliminate threats to sensitive habitats like coral reefs.


Create a diorama of a coral reef landscape. Label the different fish and corals.

Art and Writing

Draw a picture of a fish in its environment. Then, write a paragraph about the fish you chose and describe the environment it is in.

Create a List

Ask students to list as many different Coral Reef inhabitants as they can remember and draw a picture of the one that the student likes the most. To add to the activity, ask students to write a sentence about each item on their list.


Word Web

Create a web with the words “ocean’s ecosystem” in the middle and then have students say out loud different species in the ocean’s ecosystem. This can be done by having the words “ocean’s ecosystem” on a piece of construction paper or tagboard in the middle and then attach the details (i.e. species) with string to it.


Human Impact

Have students research the effects of humans on Coral Reefs and discuss how humans help and harm the reefs as well as their inhabitants. 

Writing Topic

Which is your favorite fish that uses camouflage and why?

Creative Writing Topic

Write a story on what you would do if you could camouflage. What would your camouflage look like? Who would you be hiding from? Are you a predator or prey?

Creative Writing

Describe one of the fish viewed in the video, use adjectives. Make a list of 10 adjectives that describe the fish. For example –  fast, sneaky, striped.

Writing Topic

What was your favorite part of the video?

What was your favorite fish you saw, why?

Coral Reef Writing Topics

Write what impact coral reefs have on the ocean ecosystem.

Why are they important?

What lives in a coral reef?

What colors did you see on the coral reef?

What was your favorite form of marine life and why?

If you were living in a coral reef, what marine animal would you be and why?

Write what predators you saw in the video.

What was your favorite predator and why?

What is an ecosystem?

Describe the ecosystem of a coral reef.

Write a paragraph about a whale shark.

Decribe why fish travel in schools.

Write about the fish/animals present in the coral reef video (which come out at night and which are present during the day).

Why do some predators come out at night?

Why do some prey come out at night and hide during the day?

Coral Reef in Action

In groups, students could come up with and put on plays in which they play different coral reef fish, showing ways that they interact with each other. At the beginning of the play, students will individually introduce themselves as their chosen fish, giving the class information on its characteristics and habits.

Abstract Drawing, Painting, or Collage

Ask students to create a colorful abstract drawing, painting, or collage using the colors they noticed in the coral reef.

The Awesome Octopus!

Teach the students all about the octopus, creating worksheets and other fun activities.

Fantastic Fish Stories

Ask students to write stories about some of the fish species interacting together in the coral reef. They should give the fish personalities, making the process lots of fun.

Classroom Ideas for ALL Videos

Here are dozens and dozens of ideas that you can use in your classroom along with our videos!

Topics Covered In This Video

Fun facts about coral reefs

Apex predators

Adaptations for survival

Camouflage for survival

Symbiotic relationships



Many reef fish/animals and fun facts about each

Coral reef threats/solutions

Videos in this Series

How Coral Reefs Are Formed

Related Videos

Amazon Rainforest (Grades 2-6)

Amazon Rainforest: People & Threats (Grade 2-6)

Amazon Rainforest (Grades 5-9)

Amazon Rainforest: People & Threats (Grade 5-9)

African Safari

Galapagos Islands

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