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Water wave discrimination in the surface-feeding fish Aplocheilus lineatus


The surface-feeding fish Aplocheilus lineatus uses its cephalic lateral line to detect water surface waves caused by prey insects. The ability of Aplocheilus to discriminate between surface waves with aid of the lateral line system was tested by go/no-go conditioning. Our results show that Aplocheilus can distinguish between single-frequency surface wave stimuli with equal velocity or equal acceleration amplitudes which differ only in frequency. Frequency difference limens were about 15%, i.e. fish distinguished a 20-Hz wave stimulus from a 23-Hz stimulus in 100% of the trials. Aplocheilus can also discriminate between pure sine-wave stimuli and sine waves which show abrupt frequency changes. In contrast, fish were unable to distinguish amplitude-modulated wave stimuli (carrier frequency 20, 40 and 60 Hz, modulation frequency 10 and 20 Hz) from pure sine waves of the same frequency, even if amplitude modulation depth was 80%.

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Accepted: 27 December 1996

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Vogel, D., Bleckmann, H. Water wave discrimination in the surface-feeding fish Aplocheilus lineatus. J Comp Physiol A 180, 671–681 (1997).

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  • Key words Lateral line 
  •  Teleost fish
  • Aplocheilus 
  •   Water surface 
  •  Behavior