ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-150306-9
Behavioral changes in response to sound exposure and no spatial avoidance of noisy conditions in captive zebrafish
Neo, Y.Y., Parie, L., Bakker, F., Snelderwaard, P., Tudorache, C., Schaaf, M., Slabbekoorn, H.
Date: 2015
Source: Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience   9: 28 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Schaaf, Marcel J. M.
Keywords: captive fish behavior, decision-making, noise impact, preference test, sound exposure
MeSH Terms: none
PubMed: 25741256 Full text @ Front. Behav. Neurosci.
Auditory sensitivity in fish serves various important functions, but also makes fish susceptible to noise pollution. Human-generated sounds may affect behavioral patterns of fish, both in natural conditions and in captivity. Fish are often kept for consumption in aquaculture, on display in zoos and hobby aquaria, and for medical sciences in research facilities, but little is known about the impact of ambient sounds in fish tanks. In this study, we conducted two indoor exposure experiments with zebrafish (Danio rerio). The first experiment demonstrated that exposure to moderate sound levels (112 dB re 1 µPa) can affect the swimming behavior of fish by changing group cohesion, swimming speed and swimming height. Effects were brief for both continuous and intermittent noise treatments. In the second experiment, fish could influence exposure to higher sound levels by swimming freely between an artificially noisy fish tank (120-140 dB re 1 µPa) and another with ambient noise levels (89 dB re 1 µPa). Despite initial startle responses, and a brief period in which many individuals in the noisy tank dived down to the bottom, there was no spatial avoidance or noise-dependent tank preference at all. The frequent exchange rate of about 60 fish passages per hour between tanks was not affected by continuous or intermittent exposures. In conclusion, small groups of captive zebrafish were able to detect sounds already at relatively low sound levels and adjust their behavior to it. Relatively high sound levels were at least at the on-set disturbing, but did not lead to spatial avoidance. Further research is needed to show whether zebrafish are not able to avoid noisy areas or just not bothered. Quantitatively, these data are not directly applicable to other fish species or other fish tanks, but they do indicate that sound exposure may affect fish behavior in any captive condition.