Zebrafish (Danio rerio) behavioural response to bioinspired robotic fish and mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)

Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Dec;8(4):044001. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/4/044001. Epub 2013 Sep 3.


The field of ethorobotics holds promise in aiding fundamental research in animal behaviour, whereby it affords fully controllable and easily reproducible experimental tools. Most of the current ethorobotics studies are focused on the behavioural response of a selected target species as it interacts with a biologically-inspired robot in controlled laboratory conditions. In this work, we first explore the interactions between two social fish species and a robotic fish, whose design is inspired by salient visual features of one of the species. Specifically, this study investigates the behavioural response of small shoals of zebrafish interacting with a zebrafish-inspired robotic fish and small shoals of mosquitofish in a basic ecological context. Our results demonstrate that the robotic fish differentially influences the behaviour of the two species by consistently attracting zebrafish, while repelling mosquitofish. This selective behavioural control is successful in spatially isolating the two species, which would otherwise exhibit prey-predator interactions, with mosquitofish attacking zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Cyprinodontiformes / classification
  • Cyprinodontiformes / physiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Species Specificity
  • Zebrafish / classification
  • Zebrafish / physiology*