Fast-start kinematics and performance were determined for Etheostoma caeruleum, Cottus cognatus, Notropis cornutus, Lepomis macrochirus, Perca flavescens, Salmo gairdneri and a hybrid Esox sp. at an acclimation and test temperature of 15 °C. Normal three-stage kinematic patterns were observed for all species. Fast-start movements were similar in all species, except Lepomis, which had slightly higher amplitudes than expected for its length. The duration of kinematic stages was a major variable among the seven species but was a linear function of length. Acceleration rates were not functions of size. Maximum acceleration rates ranged from 22-7 to 39-5 m. s−2 with mean rates from 6.1 to 12.3 m.s−2 averaged to the completion of kinematic stage 2. Maximum velocity and distance covered in each fast-start stage varied among species but were related to length. Fast-start performance depended primarily on compromise between muscle mass as a percentage of body mass, and lateral body and fin profile. Optimal profiles provide large depth distant from the centre of mass to maximize thrust, and anterior depth enhancement to minimize recoil. The body form of Lepomis is considered optimal for multiple swimming modes.

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