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FishSim Animation Toolchain

Computer-animated 3D fish stimuli for research in animal behavior

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation
  3. Getting started
  4. Update FishSim
  5. FAQ

1. Introduction

The free FishSim Basic provides a collection of tools for creation, animation as well as presentation of 3D virtual fish stimuli in a user-friendly way:

(1) FishSim: game engine based central operating tool to visualize 3D fish stimuli and their movements

(2) FishCreator: tool for easy creation of variable 3D fish stimuli on the basis of a virtual species model which can be varied in length, height and thickness and equipped with different fin and body textures; currently included fish species: sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna), Atlantic molly (Poecilia mexicana). Additional models are under progress;


3) FishSteering: tool for sequential animation of any number of prior created 3D fish stimuli using a video game controller. Animation may include general movements (swimming) and specific movements (single fins). Animated sequences are saved as specific video files for the use with FishPlayer;


(4) FishPlayer: tool for easy and standardized presentation of previously created animation sequences on one or two screens. It includes management of separate animation playlists for each screen and an option for automatic swimming behavior of a 3D fish stimulus. Algorithms for automatic swimming patterns can be adapted to specific needs.


FishSim is based on the robot operation system ROS ( and the game engine Irrlicht ( The open-source nature of FishSim makes it possible to adapt the toolchain to ones own specific needs. If the user is farmiliar with 3D modeling in Blender (, new species models can be created and added to the toolchain. Specific movement alterations and aspects concerning general animation properties etc. can also be adjusted, provided that the user is familiar with programming (C++) and LINUX.

All software needed to operate or work with FishSim is freely available.

Minimum system requirements for FishSim Basic:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or comparable

  • RAM: 4 GB

  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD5850 (1 GB VRAM)

  • Free Disk Space: 30 GB (including installation of Ubuntu)

  • PlayStation 3 DualShock 3 Wireless Controller


If you running an Ubuntu 16.04 operation system, you can install FishSim by following these steps:

Open a new terminal by pressing ctr + alt + t. Type in

$ wget

Mark the script as an executeable

$ sudo chmod +x

Run the installation. Follow the instructions on the terminal.

$ sudo ./

For other Ubuntu versions please read read the wiki page Installation for installation instructions.