Can Fish Hear Underwater

In the world, underwater,  sound can travel much greater distances than in air strong echoes emitted by different aquatic animals like fish are almost always present underwater, as very little noise is lost so this gives fish a huge advantage for survival in their environment. Can Fish Hear Underwater?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, fish don’t have ears that we can see, but they are equipped with internal ear parts inside their heads that pick up sound through their body combined with the ability to sense movement under H2O using lateral lines that run down each side of their body.

Fish ears are located under the skin, in the fish’s skull & near the eyes used for balance and hearing. A fish’s hearing is so good they can hear a worm crawling on the bottom of a lake.

Can Fish Hear Underwater


Fish don’t have ears that we can see on their body, but they do have ear parts inside their heads. They pick up sounds in the water through their bodies and in their internal ear, according to the National Wildlife Federation. In many fish, the swim bladder produces sound. The sonic muscle, which is attached to the swim bladder, contracts and relaxes sequentially making a vibrating sound.

Otoliths are calcium carbonate structures found beneath the brain of most fish that aid in balance and hearing. The otoliths are not attached to the skull or any other bone, they float in fluid-filled sacs in the inner ear. Most fish have three pairs of otoliths

Fish obtain much information about their environment by using their sense of hearing and listening to the sounds around them. Because sound propagates rapidly and travels over great distances in water as compared to in the air, it provides fish with information from far greater distances and more than other sensory stimuli.

Fish usually hear best within the 30-1000Hz range with some species that can detect up to 5000Hz and other very exceptional species that are sensitive to infrasound or ultrasound for comparison, humans can generally hear between 20 to 20,000Hz. With not getting too technical, the lateral line along the side of some fishes is comprised of cilia that are akin to the cilia that line the cochlea of the inner ears of terrestrial vertebrates.


What are the Senses of Fish?

Like all other living organisms, fish have survived by acquiring information about their world through the senses:

  1. Sight
  2. Smell
  3. Taste
  4. Touch
  5. Hearing
  6. Lateral Lines-is a set of ultra-sensitive nerve endings that run alongside of fish from the gills ……………………………read more


Sound is physical energy induced in a medium as a consequence of some mechanical action imposed in the medium. The energy – called “acoustical energy” is a combination of two characteristics: pressure gradient, and particle motion. The relative intensities of these two characteristics are dependent on the physical characteristics of the medium.

  • Air is highly compressible so pressure gradient energy is more pronounced in air, and why terrestrial vertebrates have pressure-sensing diaphragms to perceive sound.
  • Water is not very compressible, so particle motion is more pronounced in water than in air giving rise to a variety of particle-motion acoustical adaptations found in marine animals.

Because sound in water can travel a great distance a lot faster than sound in air. Fish have an extra sensitive hearing advantage because of the extra sensitive nerve endings located in the Lateral Line.

While the other senses fish have no doubt were also found in primitive fishes, their great sense of hearing provided invaluable added information that helped fishes to survive and thrive. In considering all of the sensory abilities an animal has, each one of the senses provides a certain type of information and each sense has special roles that enable an animal to survive and thrive in its environment.



Can a Fish Taste?

Fish use taste buds, just like humans do except they have a lot more some are on their tongue and others are on the outside of their body fish taste buds are able to distinguish between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, and flavors are used in Fish Attractants.…………………………… more

How Do Fish Use Sound Underwater


Many species of fish and aquatic animals also use sound. Fishes produce various sounds, including grunts, croaks, clicks, and snaps, that are used to attract mates as well as ward off predators. Big eye scad, a tropical fish, produces sounds using its pharyngeal teeth. 

In many fish, the swim bladder produces sound. The sonic muscle, which is attached to the swim bladder, contracts and relaxes sequentially making a vibrating sound.

All fish species use their hearing to find food and mates, avoid predators, and navigate. Sound is critical to the survival of a great many marine species. There are 3 types of sounds that are generally used by fish to communicate with one another:

  • purr
  • crock
  • pop

Most of these sounds are inaudible to humans and are used during spawning, breeding, and fighting. Sound is also used to navigate from one place to another and to identify the presence of predators and prey.

Can Fish Touch? 

Yes, in addition to using their fins for swimming, many fish use them to sense pressure or textures when making contact with surfaces, recent studies show, it turns out pectoral fins have evolved in some fish species and are as sensitive to touch as the fingertips.…………………………………………read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor



Ocean Conservation Research- How Do Fish Hear?



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