Gills Aloud? Tiny fish Found Producing an Extremely Loud Noise

Scientists in Berlin have discovered that a small, see-through fish can produce a noise as loud as a jackhammer.

They were prompted to look into the situation after mysterious clicking noises were heard coming from the fish tanks in their lab.

Researchers discovered that the fish, Danionella cerebrum, produces a strong rhythm on an organ known as a swim bladder.

Close to the fish, it emits a sound reaching 140 decibels, equivalent to a gunshot.

Researchers have discovered that the 12mm long species is the most vocal fish for its size ever identified.

It is thought that the drumming could serve as a means of social interaction.

In many of nature’s domains, larger animals tend to produce louder sounds.

Beneath the surface lies a different narrative – where the tiny species has been identified as one of the loudest.

Scientists have discovered that other creatures, like the aptly named pistol shrimp, can generate extremely loud sounds while hunting other species, reaching up to approximately 200 decibels.

Danionella is highly regarded in the scientific community for its transparent body, which enables researchers to observe its brain activity and behaviour up close.

The huge Black Drum is another fish that makes a lot of noise

However, while conducting research with these fish in their laboratory in Germany, the scientists observed something unusual.

“People were casually strolling by the fish tanks, catching snippets of mysterious sounds and trying to locate their source,” shared Verity Cook, the study’s lead author and a PhD Student at Charité University, Berlin.

It was discovered that the fish are the source of the issue. It’s quite remarkable how small they are and how noisy they can be.

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With an array of microphones and video cameras, the research team quickly determined the volume.

“At a distance of one body length away, around 140 decibels is the amplitude of the sound, that’s how loud we believe the sound to be perceived by other fish,” she shared with BBC News.

“Sound decreases as you move further away, so the amplitude is approximately 108 decibels when you are one metre away.”

That is approximately the same as the sound produced by a bulldozer.

A significant portion of this sound gets reflected back into the water. When people stand next to the fish tanks, they perceive these pulses as a constant buzzing noise.

Although the Plainfin Midshipman and the Black Drum, among others, are louder, they are all significantly larger than danionella.

“I couldn’t find another animal of this size that makes sounds this loud in terms of communication signals,” Ms Cook added.

According to the researchers, the drumming mechanism utilised by the fish is a highly advanced tool.

Every bony fish possesses a swim bladder, a gas-filled organ that aids in their buoyancy underwater.

Several species utilise their muscles to drum on this bladder to create sounds, but danionella takes it to the next level.

When the muscles contract, they pull on a rib, creating tension with a piece of cartilage inside the muscle.

Once the cartilage is released, it strikes the swim bladder.

Only the male members of the species produce this sound when they are together. Some voices carry more weight than others.

“When you have around eight males in a large tank, three of them tend to dominate the sound production while the others remain quiet.” “There seems to be some sort of hierarchy,” Ms. Cook mentioned.

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The researchers suggest that the ability to make a loud noise evolved due to the murky waters in Myanmar, aiding in communication.

“Evolution has presented numerous fascinating solutions to various intriguing challenges,” stated Ms. Cook.

“We should not jump to conclusions about how things function based on observations from other species.”

The study can be found in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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