Acoustics of fish shelters: frequency response and gain properties

J Acoust Soc Am. 2012 Nov;132(5):3512-24. doi: 10.1121/1.4754581.


Many teleosts emit sounds from cavities beneath stones and other types of submerged objects, yet the acoustical properties of fish shelters are virtually unexplored. This study examines the gain properties of shelters commonly used by Mediterranean gobies as hiding places and/or nest sites in the field (flat stones, shells belonging to five bivalve species), or within aquarium tanks (tunnel-shaped plastic covers, concrete blocks, concrete cylinder pipe, halves of terracotta flower pots). All shelters were acoustically stimulated using a small underwater buzzer, placed inside or around the shelter to mimic a fish calling from the nest site, and different types of driving stimuli (white noise, pure tones, and artificial pulse trains). Results showed the presence of significant amplitude gain (3-18 dB) at frequencies in the range 100-150 Hz in all types of natural shelters but one (Mytilus), terracotta flower pots, and concrete blocks. Gain was higher for stones and artificial shelters than for shells. Gain peak amplitude increased with the weight of stones and shells. Conclusions were verified by performing analogous acoustical tests on flat stones in the stream. Results draw attention to the use of suitable shelters for proper recording of sounds produced by fishes kept within laboratory aquaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics* / instrumentation
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Environment*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Pressure
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Vocalization, Animal*
  • Water


  • Water