Correlation between auditory sensitivity and vocalization in anabantoid fishes

J Comp Physiol A. 1998 Jun;182(6):737-46. doi: 10.1007/s003590050218.


Several anabantoid species produce broadband sounds with high-pitched dominant frequencies (0.8-2.5 kHz), which contrast with generally low-frequency hearing abilities in (perciform) fishes. Utilizing a recently developed auditory brainstem response recording-technique, auditory sensitivities of the gouramis Trichopsis vittata, T. pumila, Colisa lalia, Macropodus opercularis and Trichogaster trichopterus were investigated and compared with the sound characteristics of the respective species. All five species exhibited enhanced sound-detecting abilities and perceived tone bursts up to 5 kHz, which qualifies this group as hearing specialists. All fishes possessed a high-frequency sensitivity maximum between 800 Hz and 1500 Hz. Lowest hearing thresholds were found in T. trichopterus (76 dB re I microPa at 800 Hz). Dominant frequencies of sounds correspond with the best hearing bandwidth in T. vittata (1-2 kHz) and C. lalia (0.8-1 kHz). In the smallest species, T. pumila, dominant frequencies of acoustic signals (1.5-2.5 kHz) do not match lowest thresholds, which were below 1.5 kHz. However, of all species studied, T. pumila had best hearing sensitivity at frequencies above 2 kHz. The association between high-pitched sounds and hearing may be caused by the suprabranchial airbreathing chamber, which, lying close to the hearing and sonic organs, enhances both sound perception and emission at its resonant frequency.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Audiometry
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*