Why fish talk: Clownfish communication establishes status in social groups (w/ Video)

Nov 07, 2012
Why fish talk: Clownfish communication establishes status in social groups (w/ Video)
This is a clownfish. Credit: Orphal Colleye

Clownfish produce sounds to establish and defend their breeding status in social groups, but not to attract mates, according to research published November 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Orphal Colleye and colleagues from the University of Liege, Belgium.

Previous studies showed that clownfish live in unique , where the largest fish develops as a female, the second-largest is male, and the rest of the group remains gender neutral. If the largest fish dies, the rest of the group moves up a rank to replace the female and male.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
An aggressive clownfish chases a smaller fish while producing a series of aggressive sounds. Credit: PLoS ONE 7(11): e49179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049179

This new research studies the importance of sounds made by the fish in this social structure, and finds that clownfish sounds are of two main kinds: aggressive calls made by charging and chasing fish, and sounds made by submissive fish. The authors also found that smaller fish produced shorter, higher frequency pulses of sound than larger fish.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Subordinates exhibit submissive postures (lateral quivering) while producing submissive sounds. Credit: PLoS ONE 7(11): e49179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049179

According to the authors, these are especially significant for clownfish given the size-based hierarchy of their social structure.

Explore further: Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

More information: Colleye O, Parmentier E (2012) Overview on the Diversity of Sounds Produced by Clownfishes (Pomacentridae): Importance of Acoustic Signals in Their Peculiar Way of Life. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049179

Related Stories

Ocean acidification leaves clownfish deaf to predators

Jun 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, making pH drop faster than any time in the last 650,000 years and ...

Aggressive piranhas bark to say buzz off

Oct 13, 2011

Thanks to Hollywood, piranhas have a bad reputation and it would be a brave scientist that chose to plunge their hand into a tank of them. But that didn't deter Sandie Millot, Pierre Vandewalle and Eric Parmentier from the ...

Fish weight-watchers

Jun 15, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Telling your partner to watch her weight is not recommended-unless you're a male cleaner fish, reports a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Recommended for you

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

12 hours ago

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

15 hours ago

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

15 hours ago

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...