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Electric fish

Fish that can generate electric fields / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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An electric fish is any fish that can generate electric fields. Most electric fish are also electroreceptive, meaning that they can sense electric fields. The only exception is the stargazer family. Electric fish, although a small minority, include both oceanic and freshwater species, and both cartilaginous and bony fishes.

Among the electric fishes are electric eels, knifefish capable of generating an electric field, both at low voltage for electrolocation and at high voltage to stun their prey.

Electric fish produce their electrical fields from an electric organ. This is made up of electrocytes, modified muscle or nerve cells, specialized for producing strong electric fields, used to locate prey, for defence against predators, and for signalling, such as in courtship. Electric organ discharges are two types, pulse and wave, and vary both by species and by function.

Electric fish have evolved many specialised behaviours. The predatory African sharptooth catfish eavesdrops on its weakly electric mormyrid prey to locate it when hunting, driving the prey fish to develop electric signals that are harder to detect. Bluntnose knifefishes produce an electric discharge pattern similar to the electrolocation pattern of the dangerous electric eel, probably a form of Batesian mimicry to dissuade predators. Glass knifefish that are using similar frequencies move their frequencies up or down in a jamming avoidance response; African knifefish have convergently evolved a nearly identical mechanism.