do fish talk to each other

Do Fish Talk To Each Other? How Do Fish Communicate?

Communication is a very advanced function seen in humans but luckily, it’s not just limited to humans, underwater creatures have developed the sense of communication to socialize with each other. So, yes, fish do talk to each other and communicate in different ways for multiple reasons like to align themselves, attract mates, and scare off predators.

Just like us most of the time the source of communication is sound but other ways of interaction are possible and quite successful as well. Sometimes colors, electrical signals, smells, hormones, and lighting can prove to be successful ways of communication.

The main objective behind this communication or interaction is to call their partners for mating, warning their predators, and call for help during the fight.

Thus, communication is key to survival and is observed quite effectively in underwater creatures as well. Let’s discuss different sources of communication among fishes in detail.

How Do Fish Communicate To Each Other?

Well, if you think fishes talk to each other the way we do with words and gestures, then it’s not true. They do communicate through chemical and electrical signals. From sound to colors and from light to motion and smell there are many pathways of communication and connection between different species living in the water.

We will discuss each of these pathways in detail.

How Do Fish Communicate Through Sound?

Different kinds of sounds can be heard from a fish tank if we notice carefully. These sounds are similar to our communication through words. The commonly heard sounds are of three major categories.

  1. Popping sound or pops
  2. Crocks (such as generally produced by frogs)
  3. Purring sound (made commonly by cats)

These sounds are produced by the organ of buoyancy called the Swim bladder. Alternating contraction and relaxation of the swim bladder are responsible for the production of sounds of different frequencies via vibration.

Sound transmission through water is by far the best way to communicate among fishes. There are two reasons why sound is a preferable mode of communication.

  • Sound can travel much farther than light in an underwater environment.
  • Much of the light and other signals are lost inside water but sound ways are greatly intact.

Thus, sound is one excellent way of communication that helps in inviting the gender for mating, fighting, and looking for prey as well. Importantly these sounds are mostly inaudible to us, and we can’t quite understand them.

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Damselfish uses sounds waves to protect itself, its habitat, and other members of species from other predators.

Toadfish and their species use sounds as calls for attracting the opposite sex for mating and courtship.

Does Light Play a Role in Connecting a Fish with Others?

Light has been used as a mode of communication for centuries. IN the aquatic world light has great significance when it comes to transmitting signals and communication.

Fishes such as firefly squid, lantern fish, and pocket sharks can produce light for communication. They have special organs called “Photophores or light-emitting organs”.

This property of light production and emission is called “Bioluminescence”. This property is fairly common in fishes inhabiting deeper parts of oceans.

Bioluminescence aids in communication and signal transmission, moreover, it helps them recognize each other’s and stay away from predators.

How Can Smell Help in Communication Among Fishes?

Smells play a significant role in communication among different fish species. It is common practice in fish that they release certain strong-smelling substances from their bodies. These substances travel through water and are sensed by other species and signals are transmitted.

What are pheromones?

Certain species such as zebrafish can secrete local hormone-like chemicals in the water that act as chemical signals. These substances are called pheromones.

Generally, pheromones are released by females and are efficiently sensed by males. Such as in zebrafish, females release these local chemicals to attract their counterparts.

Urine and other body fluids can also help in communication, urea is the main component of urine that is commonly detected by other fishes. Fishes can smell these chemicals from quite a distance.

Thus, it is clear that yes, fish can smell, and these scented chemical signals are quite efficient in connecting them.

What Is the Role of Chemicals in Communication Among Underwater Creatures?

Chemicals signals are widely used tools of communication around the globe. These chemicals could be scented or without any smell, such local hormones are responsible for many functions.

As such chemicals are the mode of transmission of useful information, thus, they are known as “Info-chemicals”.

There are commonly two types of info-chemicals.

  • Pheromones:

Chemical substances responsible for transmitting information and communication between members of the same species are pheromones. Such as scented hormones released by zebrafish detected by the members of the same species.

picture credit-Vox
  • Allelochemicals:

Chemicals are responsible for communication and connection between members of different species. Such as tannins, alkaloids, and ketones released by fishes that are common mediators among different species.

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Do Fish Communicate Through Colors?

Communication through colors of skin is an advanced and elite form of communication seen in highly developed animals. We have heard about the camouflage ability of octopuses and other fishes; this ability is responsible for their protection from predators.

Some fishes can glow up their skin to warn their species and some can lose their colors to hide from predators or at resting hours.

Bright-colored fishes usually display bright colors to frighten others and to dominate the habitat. Sometimes during the mating phase females become more pigmented to attract their partners.

Thus, colors are more than enough to convey useful information and are secrets signals understood by other species.

How Motion Waves Help in Transmitting the Signals Among Fishes?

Vibratory signals produced by fishes are another useful yet quite simple mode of communication between fishes.

Fish can produce waves in the water that differ in character and are well understood by other members of this species and other species as well.

To and fro movements, drumming by swim bladder, and changing speed or hydrodynamics all are different modes of communication displayed but different species.

Electrical Impulses!!!

Do Fish Use Electrical Impulses to Talk To Each Other?

Yes, it is right that fishes can produce electrical impulses through specialized organs. Only a few species can generate strong enough signals to communicate with others through it.

Generally, these impulses are sharp and sudden and are meant to scare off any potential predator in that area.

Electric rays and stargazers are species that are capable of generating electric impulses.

Electric Eel; Generate Up To 1amp Of Current:

One of the most dangerous fish in this category is the electric eel that can create a potential difference of 500 volts, this difference is capable of generating a current of 1amp.

There are specific organs located all along an eel’s body that is responsible for the production of electric current.

The main functions of these alternating currents generated by eel are to communicate, navigate, threaten the predators, and hunting their prey. A high voltage current is required for these purposes whereas very weak fluctuating signals are responsible for the transmission of information and communication.

Why Do Fish Need to Communicate?

While discussing the modes of communication in detail the question arises why fish need to communicate and what purposes are fulfilled.

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Like any other creature living on land fishes also need to convey important messages, call their partners, move around to different habitats in various climates. Thus, communication is the key to survival in the underwater world.

Following important needs are met through efficient communication between fishes.

  • Hunting
  • Protection from predators
  • Navigation
  • Searching for food
  • Calling for courtship
  • Mating and Spawning
  • Fighting against dominating species

Thus, the above-mentioned goals require effective communication.

Do Fish Talk to Humans?

Fish communicate to their owners, they recognize them and remember them for a longer duration of time. The mode of communication is not the same as we speak through words.

They do respond to our gestures, when we add food to the aquarium the way they move to the surface with excitement is their way to communicate with us and express their feelings.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs):

What is the most talkative fish?

Although fish don’t talk in proper words, they do produce different sounds and communicate with each other through these sound waves. The most talkative fish to date is “Gurnards (Triglidae)”. Mostly red gurnards are seen making grunting sounds and these sounds are quite audible.

Do fish have their language?

Yes, Fish do have their language but that’s distinct from what we perceive as language. Fishes use chemicals, sound waves, vibrations, electrical impulses, and light to communicate. All these tools are the specific language that only they can understand.

Can fish hear you talking to them?

Yes, fish can hear us talking to them, they can hear our voices. They can also understand what we are saying to some extent, but this understanding is not due to the voices but they can perceive our actions and can interpret what we are trying to say.


Like any other organism, fishes do talk to each other in different ways. Sound, colors, light, chemicals or hormones, electric impulses, and vibratory motion as their specific language.

Fishes can effectively convey their message to each other, and it is necessary for their survival. All these methods of communication are well-developed and better adapted to their environment.

Thus, it is clear that fish do talk to each other, and communication among underwater creatures is unique and impressive.

Stay tuned for another interesting article about this extraordinary creature.

Best of luck with your fish!!!

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