Auditory role of the suprabranchial chamber in gourami fish

J Comp Physiol A. 1998 Sep;183(3):325-33. doi: 10.1007/s003590050259.


Fish hearing specialists (e.g., goldfish, holocentrids, clupeoids, mormyrids) have evolved specialized structures (e.g., Weberian ossicles, swimbladder diverticulae, gas-filled bullae) to enhance their auditory frequency range and threshold sensitivity. The inner ears of anabantoid fish are encased in membranous cranial bones and are protruded into air-filled suprabranchial chambers. This research was intended to test the hypothesis that the gas bubbles inside the suprabranchial chambers may modulate the hearing abilities of anabantoid fish because of their proximity to the membranous bone-encased inner ears. Three species of gourami (blue gourami Trichogaster trichopterus; kissing gourami Helostoma temminckii; dwarf gourami Colisa lalia) were examined. Using the auditory brainstem response recording technique, baseline audiograms tested at 300, 500, 800, 1500, 2500, 4000 Hz were obtained. The air bubbles in the suprabranchial chambers were replaced by water, and the audiograms were remeasured. Thresholds were elevated in all three species. When three blue gouramis were allowed to replenish air into the suprabranchial chambers their hearing abilities returned to baseline levels. These results support the hypothesis that air bubbles in the suprabranchial chambers can affect hearing abilities of gouramis by lowering the thresholds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Ear, Inner / physiology*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Pressure