Multi-fin kinematics and hydrodynamics in pufferfish steady swimming

Lijun Li, Gen Li, Ruoxin Li, Qing Xiao, Hao Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


Pufferfish swim and maneuver with a multi-fin system including dorsal, anal, caudal, and pectoral fins, which presents sophisticated ventures in biomimetic designs of underwater vehicles. Distinguished from those ‘typical’ fish with streamlined body shape and body-caudal fin (BCF) undulations, pufferfish adopt non-streamlined plump body shape and rely on the oscillations and interplay of fins to achieve high performance maneuvering. Aiming at unveiling novel mechanisms associated with multi-fin kinematics and hydrodynamic performance in pufferfish swimming, we carried out an integrated study by combining measurement and digitizing of multi-fin kinematics and three-dimensional deformations and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling of steady swimming. We constructed a realistic multi-fin kinematic model to mimic motions and deformations of the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. We further built up a CFD model of the pufferfish with a realistic body and multi-fin geometry to evaluate the hydrodynamic performance of its multi-fin system. Our results demonstrate that in pufferfish steady swimming, caudal, dorsal and anal fin rays oscillate while performing significantly passive bending and twist deformations but show a noticeable out-of-phase feature, leading to neutralizing rotational forces and hence suppressing yaw motion, particularly at fast swimming. Numerical simulation suggests that the caudal median fin plays a key role in thrust generation while the dorsal and anal fins also provide a considerable contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalOcean Engineering
Early online date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • pufferfish
  • multi-fin
  • kinematics
  • deformation
  • hydrodynamics
  • CFD

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