Acoustical deterrence of Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)


The invasive Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) dominate large regions of the Mississippi River drainage and continue to expand their range northward threatening the Laurentian Great Lakes. This study found that complex broadband sound (0–10 kHz) is effective in altering the behavior of Silver Carp with implications for deterrent barriers or potential control measures (e.g., herding fish into nets). The phonotaxic response of Silver Carp was investigated using controlled experiments in outdoor concrete ponds (10 × 4.9 × 1.2 m). Pure tones (500–2000 Hz) and complex sound (underwater field recordings of outboard motors) were broadcast using underwater speakers. Silver Carp always reacted to the complex sounds by exhibiting negative phonotaxis to the sound source and by alternating speaker location, Silver Carp could be directed consistently, up to 37 consecutive times, to opposite ends of the large outdoor pond. However, fish habituated quickly to pure tones, reacting to only approximately 5 % of these presentations and never showed more than two consecutive responses. Previous studies have demonstrated the success of sound barriers in preventing Silver Carp movement using pure tones and this research suggests that a complex sound stimulus would be an even more effective deterrent.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Arnold TL, Sullivan DJ, Harris MA, Fitzpatrick FA, Scudder BC, Ruhl PM, Hanchar DW, Stewart JS (1999) Environmental setting of the upper Illinois River basin and implications for water quality. US Department of the Interior and US Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4268

  2. Burner CJ, Moore HL (1953) Attempts to Guide Small Fish with Underwater Sound. US Department of the Interior Special Scientific Report: Fisheries No. 111. US Department of the Interior

  3. Clarkson RW (2004) Effectiveness of electrical fish barriers associated with the Central Arizona Project. N Am J Fish Manag 24(1):94–105

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Fay RR, Popper AN (1999) The auditory periphery in fishes. In: Fay RR, Popper AN (eds) Comparative hearing: fish and amphibians. Springer, New York, pp 43–100

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  5. Holt DE, Johnston CE (2014) Evidence of the Lombard effect in fishes. Behav Ecol 25(4):819–826

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Irons KS, Sass GG, McClelland MA, Stafford JD (2007) Reduced condition factor of two native fish species coincident with invasion of non-native Asian carps in the Illinois River, USA—is this evidence for competition and reduced fitness? J Fish Biol 71:258–273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Kelly AM, Engle CR, Armstrong ML, Freeze M, Mitchell AJ (2011) History of introductions and governmental involvement in promoting the use of grass, silver, and bighead carps. In: Chapman DC, Hoff MH (eds) Invasive Asian Carps in North America. American Fisheries Society, Symposium, 74. Bethesda, MD, pp 163–174

  8. Kolar KS, Chapman DC, Courtenay WR Jr, Housel CM, Williams JD, Jennings DP (2005) Asian carps of the genus Hypophthalmichthys (Pisces, Cyprinidae)—a biological synopsis and environmental risk assessment. US Fish and Wildlife Service

  9. Liu M, Wei QW, Du H, Fu ZY, Chen QC (2013) Ship noise-induced temporary hearing threshold shift in the Chinese sucker Myxocyprinus asiaticus (Bleeker, 1864). J Appl Ichthyol 29:1416–1422

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lovell JM, Findlay MM, Nedwell JR, Pegg MA (2006) The hearing abilities of the silver carp (Hypopthalmichthys molitrix) and bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis). Comp Biochem Physiol A: Mol Integr Physiol 143(3):286–291

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Maes J, Turnpenny AWH, Lambert DR, Nedwell JR, Parmentier A, Ollevier F (2004) Field evaluation of a sound system to reduce estuarine fish intake rates at a power plant cooling water inlet. J Fish Biol 64(4):938–946

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Moy PB, Polls I, Dettmers JM (2011) The Chicago sanitary and ship canal aquatic nuisance species dispersal barrier. In: Chapman DC, Hoff MH (eds) Invasive Asian carps in North America. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 74. Bethesda, MD, pp. 121–137

  13. Murphy EA, Jackson PR (2013) Hydraulic and water-quality data collection for the investigation of Great Lakes tributaries for Asian carp spawning and egg-transport suitability: US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5106. Accessed 11 Nov 2014

  14. Noatch MR, Suski CD (2012) Non-physical barriers to deter fish movements. Environ Rev 20:71–82

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Pegg MA, Chick JH (2004) Aquatic nuisance species: an evaluation of barriers for preventing the spread of bighead and silver carp to the Great Lakes. Final report for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant A/SE (ANS)-01–01. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Urbana, IL

  16. Popper AN, Carlson TJ (1998) Application of sound and other stimuli to control fish behavior. Trans Am Fish Soc 127:673–707

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Popper AN, Hastings MC (2009) The effects of human-generated sound on fish integrative. Zoology 4:43–52

    Google Scholar 

  18. Rankin CH, Abrams T, Barry RJ, Bhatnagar S, Clayton DF, Colombo J, Coppola G, Geyer MA, Glanzman DL, Marsland S, McSweeney FK, Wilson DA, Wu C, Thompson RF (2008) Habituation revisited: an updated and revised description of the behavioral characteristics of habituation. Neurobiol Learn Mem 92:135–138

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Ross QE, Dunning DJ, Thorne R, Menezes JK, Tiller GW, Watson JK (1993) Response of alewives to high-frequency sound at a power plant intake on Lake Ontario. N Am J Fish Manag 13(2):291–303. doi:10.1577/1548-8675(1993)013<0291:ROATHF>2.3.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ruebush BC, Sass GG, Chick JH, Stafford JD (2012) In-situ tests of sound-bubble-strobe light barrier technologies to prevent range expansions of Asian carp. Aquat Invasions 7(1):37–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Sampson SJ, Chick JH, Pegg MA (2009) Diet overlap among two Asian carp and three native fishes in backwater lakes on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Biol Invasions 11:483–496

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Sass GG, Cook TR, Irons KS, McClelland MA, Michaels NN, O’Hara ETM, Stroub MR (2010) A mark-recapture population estimate for invasive silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) in the La Grange Reach, Illinois River. Biol Invasions 12:433–436

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Schilt CR (2007) Developing fish passage and protection at hydropower dams. Appl Anim Behav Sci 104(4):295–325

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Scholik AR, Yan HY (2001) Effects of underwater noise on auditory sensitivity of a cyprinid fish. Hear Res 152:17–24

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Scholik AR, Yan HY (2002a) The effects of noise on the auditory sensitivity of the bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus. Comp Biochem Physiol A 133:43–52

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Scholik AR, Yan HY (2002b) Effects of boat engine noise on the auditory sensitivity of the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas. Environ Biol Fishes 63:203–209

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Schrank SJ, Guy CS, Fairchild JF (2003) Competitive interactions between age-0 bighead carp and paddlefish. Trans Am Fish Soc 132:1222–1228

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Sloan JL, Mensinger AF (2013) Acoustical conditioning and retention in the common carp (Cyprinus carpio). J Great Lakes Res 39:507–512

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Taylor RM, Pegg MA, Chick JH (2005) Response of bighead carp to a bioacoustic behavioural fish guidance system. Fish Manag Ecol 12:283–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Thompson RF, Spencer WA (1966) Habituation: a model phenomenon for the study of neuronal substrates of behavior. Psychol Rev 73:16–43

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Voellmy IK, Purser J, Flynn D, Kennedy P, Simpson SD, Radford AN (2014) Acoustic noise reduces foraging success in two sympatric fish species via different mechanisms. Anim Behav 89:191–198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Whitfield AK, Becker A (2014) Impacts of recreational motorboats on fishes: a review. Mar Pollut Bull 83:24–31

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Willis DJ, Hoyer MV, Canfield DE, Lindberg WJ (2002) Training grass carp to respond to sound for potential lake management uses. N Am J Fish Manag 22:208–212

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Zielinski DP, Voller VR, Svendsen JC, Hondzo M, Mensinger AF, Sorensen P (2014) Laboratory experiments demonstrate that bubble curtains can effectively inhibit movement of common carp. Ecol Eng 67:95–103

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) staff and interns, especially Justin Smerud, Riley Buley, and Allison Zwarycz for their assistance with this project. The Illinois River Biological Station staff, including Andrew Casper, Levi Solomon, and Thad Cook, provided additional support. All fish handling, care, and experimental procedures used were reviewed and approved by the UMESC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC Protocol AEH-12-PPT-AC-01). Resources for the USGS component of the research were provided through the USGS Ecosystem Mission Area Invasive Species Program and from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The University of Minnesota Duluth Small Seed Research Grant provided additional funding.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brooke J. Vetter.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Vetter, B.J., Cupp, A.R., Fredricks, K.T. et al. Acoustical deterrence of Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). Biol Invasions 17, 3383–3392 (2015).

Download citation


  • Silver Carp
  • Acoustics
  • Phonotaxis
  • Deterrent barriers
  • Management
  • Behavior