Do fish make noise?

In this post, we will answer the question “Do fish make noise?”. We will also discuss some fish species’ capability of producing noise and vocalisation.  

Do fish make noise?

Yes, certain fish species may produce sound and vocalizations. According to researchers, the world beneath the ocean’s surface is typically a boisterous place. There are at least a thousand different varieties of fish that make sounds, and there are likely to be many more. Typical examples of these vocalizations include pops, whistling, purring, barking, hooting and clicking, grunting, moaning, growling, humming, rattles, and even tinkles. 

Fish make sounds in order to attract mates, warn of danger, scare away competitors and predators, and maintain social cohesion amongst themselves. Some people make noise as a distress signal. Although it has long been known that certain fish can vocalize, scientists have just recently discovered how ubiquitous and fascinating this ability is. 

Discovering the Voices of Fish 

Researchers use a hydrophone, an underwater microphone, to record fish vocalizations. This can be carried by a scuba diver or lowered into the sea from a boat. Divers were previously ignorant of the enormous range of fish vocalizations in the water because the sound of bubbles created by scuba equipment obscured the fish’s sounds. Furthermore, the bubbles frequently disturbed fish, causing them to flee. 

Instead of traditional dive gear, fish sound researchers are increasingly using rebreathers. A rebreather is a self-contained device in which the diver inhales and exhales its own air again, ensuring that no gas bubbles are released into the environment. Inside the rebreather, carbon dioxide is extracted from the exhaled air. Whenever fresh oxygen is required, a computer regulates the flow of oxygen into the air, and an oxygen sensor monitors the amount of oxygen in the rebreathed air. 

The swim bladder is comprised of the following organs: A source of fishy sound 

The swim bladder is a gas-filled sac that may be found inside the abdominal cavity of most fish. It is responsible for swimming. A fish’s buoyancy is controlled by the sac. When gas is injected into the swim bladder of the fish, the animal becomes more buoyant and may be able to swim higher in the water. The fish sinks into the water when the gas is withdrawn. 

Filling the swim bladder can be accomplished by one of two approaches. Some fish take in air from the surface of the water, while others swim deeper. The air then travels from the esophagus to the swim bladder via a duct. In humans, the esophagus is a tube that connects our mouth to our stomach. Gas glands are found in other fish. This removes gas from the bloodstream and transports it to the swim bladder. 

What happens when fish make sounds? 

A sound-producing organ in some fish, the swim bladder, is utilized to produce sound. The sonic muscle, which is linked to the swim bladder, contracts and relaxes rapidly. The swim bladder vibrates and makes a low-pitched drumming sound as a result of this movement. The oyster toadfish’s sonic muscle may contract at a pace of 200 times per second. 

Stridulation, a process in which hard body components such as teeth or bones collide, is another way for fish to make sounds. When making communication sounds, body motions that generate water currents or splashes are also used to create the noises.

The Three-Spined toadfish

Toadfish (order Batrachoidiformes, family Batrachoididae) have a broad face similar to that of a toad. Unlike other fish, its eyes are located at the top of the head rather than on the side, as is the case with most others. They mainly live on the ocean floor, where they hunt in ambush. They’re frequently painted or patterned in order to fit in with the environment they inhabit. Toadfish males are notorious for making sounds to attract females. 

The three-spined toadfish, also known as Batrachomoeus trispinosus, is found in the western Pacific Ocean, in the region known as the Western Pacific Ocean. It’s the only fish known to make non-linear sounds so far. Sound is supposed to be linear. Non-linear noises are loud and exist beyond of the regular range of the instrument or mechanism that creates them. They are also difficult to distinguish from one another. The sound waves have a tremendous amplitude and generate strange effects in the materials through which they travel. 

Non-linear sounds can elicit strong feelings in humans and animals. When newborns scream, non-linear sounds are made, and animals such as marmots and songbirds make them as warning cries or to signal that they are in distress. In movies, music with non-linear sounds is used to elicit emotions such as anxiety and tension in the audience. 

The swim bladder of the three-spined toadfish is separated into two portions, forming two functionally independent compartments. Each side of the swim bladder has its sonic muscle and is capable of producing its sound.When each section of the swim bladder makes a separate sound at the same time, this is referred to as biphonic sound production. Scientists are trying to figure out what role non-linear sounds have in the community of three-spined toadfish. 

The Plainfin Midshipman Fish: Facts 

Porichthys notatus is the scientific name for another variety of toadfish, the plain fin midshipman. The photophores (light-emitting organs) on the fish’s surface, the noises it emits, and the fact that it can survive in the intertidal zone distinguish it from other species. Because the arrangement of the photophores resembles the buttons on a naval uniform, the fish is known as the “midshipman” fish. 

Plain fin midshipman fish may be found off the west coast of North America, from Alaska to Baja California, and are a popular sport fish. In California, they are commonly referred to as “California singing fish” because they sing in tune. During the mating season, the male produces a hum by hitting his swim bladder with his sonic muscle, which may last for lengthy periods of time. His humming is intended to capture the attention of a female. As soon as the male has drawn a female to the nest and laid her eggs, he continues humming in an attempt to draw in another female to the nest. He keeps an eye on the eggs till they hatch. 

Researchers have identified two types of male midshipmen: Type 1 and Type 2, based to the findings of their study. Type 2 guys are referred to as “sneaker males” because of their distinctive footwear. In comparison to Type 1 males, they are smaller and do not hum, but they are capable of emitting a variety of vocalizations. Instead, they attempt to infiltrate the nest and fertilize the eggs as quickly as possible before the Type 1 males become aware of their presence.

Facts and Sounds about the Black Drum 

The black drum (Pogonias cromis) is a member of the Acanthuriformes order and the Sciaenidae family, and it is the world’s most endangered bird. In brackish water, such as estuaries, it is a black or grey fish that may be found in schools. The majority of black drums are bottom feeders. The stripes disappear as the fish age, but the juvenile fish have black stripes on a light backdrop. Adults can grow to be quite large, weighing up at over a hundred pounds. 

During the mating season, black drums become extremely raucous. They produce low-pitched sounds that travel a long distance. Males make the sounds in order to gain female attention. The swim bladder and sonic muscle of the fish are responsible for the fish’s vocalizations.

Residents in Cape Coral, Florida’s Gulf Coast, reported in 2005 that low-pitched throbbing sensations in their homes kept them awake at night, which they felt were caused by a building’s engineering flaw. The sounds were finally discovered to be made by black drum fish, which the people found hard to accept at first. The fish had swum into the canals and estuaries of the surrounding region. Their mating sounds could be heard through the ground and seawalls, as well as inside surrounding homes. 

FRTs of Herring 

Herring (order Clupeiformes, family Clupeidae) communicate by forcing gas out of the anal area, resulting in bubbles and a high-pitched sound. This type of sound production is referred to as an FRT by the researchers (Fast Repetitive Tick). When they came up with the term, they had another word in mind that they wanted to use.

Other fish’s sound production 

Sound is produced by both ocean and freshwater fish. By rubbing two pieces of their skull together, seahorses (order Syngnathiformes, family Syngnathidae) make clicking sounds. The sonic muscle and swim bladder of the weakfish, a species of drum, emit a purr. Some catfish (order Siluriformes) are also capable of producing sound. The spines in the pectoral ends of squeaker catfish are rubbed into grooves on their shoulders. The shaking of their swim bladder or the vibrating of their pectoral fin spines in their sockets is two ways that talking catfish make a sound. 

The study of fish sound generation is still in its infancy. Certainly, as their study progresses, scientists will uncover other fish species that produce sound, as well as additional types of fish vocalization. In the realm of underwater life, there are still many mysteries to be solved.  It’s intriguing to investigate the ecosystem beneath the water’s surface, as well as the characteristics and behaviour of the animals and other species that reside there.


In this post, we answered the question “Do fish make noise?”. We also discussed some fish species’ capability of producing noise and vocalisations.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Do fish make noise?

Do fish make sounds when they’re underwater? 

When they ultimately dropped the scuba gear in favour of a subterranean microphone known as a hydrophone, they were surprised to learn that, yep! The majority of fish make noises! … As a result, there are no bubbles, and they can now hear fish sounds in real-time. 

Do fish make a lot of noise? 

Fish may produce noises by vibrating their swim bladders or rubbing the bones where their fins connect to their bodies, in a similar way to how crickets generate sounds by scratching their legs, in order to communicate. 

Is it feasible for a fish to make a screaming sound?

When fish are impaled on hooks or the hooks are taken from their jaws, they don’t scream or grimace, but their behaviour provides evidence of their pain—if we’re prepared to look. Fish have neural systems that understand and respond to pain, according to neurobiologists. 

Are fish deafeningly quiet? 

We may think of fish as being silent, yet they generate a variety of sounds that are rarely heard by humans. Clownfish make chirping and popping noises by grinding their teeth together. By rapidly tightening muscles linked to their swim bladders, oyster toadfish hum and blare like foghorns. 

When a fish makes a noise, what exactly does it sound like? 

There are many different types of vocalizations that may be heard. These include pops, clicks, whistling, purring, grunts, moaning, growling, barking, hums, hoots, rattles, and even tiny tinkles. Fish create noises in order to attract partners, warn of danger, frighten away competitors and predators, and preserve social cohesiveness amongst themselves.


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