Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 159, Issue 3, pp 297–310

Acoustic communication in an electric fish,Pollimyrus isidori (Mormyridae)

  • John D. Crawford
  • Mary Hagedorn
  • Carl D. Hopkins

DOI: 10.1007/BF00603976

Cite this article as:
Crawford, J.D., Hagedorn, M. & Hopkins, C.D. J. Comp. Physiol. (1986) 159: 297. doi:10.1007/BF00603976


It has been known since von Frisch's work in the 1930's that mormyrid electric fishes are quite sensitive to sound. We now describe a repertoire of natural sounds produced by the mormyrid,Pollimyrus isidori, during breeding and aggression; reception of communication sounds is probably a major function for mormyrid audition.
  1. 1.

    In aquaria,Pollimyrus isidori produce ‘grunts’, ‘moans’, ‘growls’, ‘pops’ and ‘hoots’ at various phases during nesting, courtship, and territory defense.

  2. 2.

    All five sounds are produced primarily at night. Territorial males produce grunts, moans and growls during courtship. Vocalizing is stimulated by the presence of a gravid female on the male's territory and decreases with the onset of spawning. Hoots and pops are given during agonistic behavior.

  3. 3.

    Grunts are bursts of acoustic pulses, stereotyped for an individual, with the potential as individual signatures.

  4. 4.

    The electric organ is silent during grunts and moans and is discharged at a reduced rate during growls.

  5. 5.

    The courtship and spawning ofPollimyrus isidori is described.




electric organ discharge

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Crawford
    • 1
  • Mary Hagedorn
    • 1
  • Carl D. Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Seeley Mudd HallCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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