Fish Senses & How They Use Them – Part 2


Fish have four senses – sight, smell, hearing and feeling vibrations!

What Can Fish See?

Biologists have proved that fish can see 4 colors: red, blue, yellow and green.   Their ability to see clearly is determined by certain factors:  Is the water clear or muddy?   How deep are the objects/colors?

Most of the light rays shining down into the water are lost by the depth of 25 feet.  Thus, below 25 feet, most objects appear dark or black to fish.

At any depth, however, fish have learned to recognize the shapes of things that are important to them — say — anything in their food chain!

Fish & Their Sense of Smell

Fish can smell you coming; they can smell odors hundreds of yards away. Another way of looking at this: they can smell an odor that is only one part in 80 million parts of water!

There are certain odors that drive fish away: gasoline, nicotine, oils, human scent, etc. Thus, it is important to wear a ‘good scent’ or use fish soap that covers your scent.

Some fish use their sense of smell more than others. For example, predator fish (bass, muskie, pike, and others) rely on their sense of sight when searching for food.

However, the scavenger class of fishes (lake trout, carp catfish, etc.) rely more on their sense of smell to forage for a meal.

Fish & Their Sense of Hearing

Fish do not have external ears like we do; however, their sense of  hearing extends thousands of feet!  Their hearing is located in the bones of their skull.

Good Vibrations & Fish

Note the lateral line on the drawing of the fish above.  These are sensory cells that run the length of the fish’s body on both sides.

Amazingly, these cells process low-frequency vibrations. In other words, these cells serve a hearing function that is much more sensitive than ours!

They can feel vibrations and/or hear sounds that occur in the water (up to ~ 100 feet away).

What Does This Mean?

Fish can hear sounds/vibrations caused by anglers walking near water!  They can also detect a boat on the water through its vibrations.

The only good news about this is — fish cannot hear the sound vibrations carried by airwaves, that do not pass into the ground or the water.

Thus, fish don’t hear quiet talking above the water, but they are “tuned in” to noise and movement in a boat.


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Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 7:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] Fish Senses & How They Use Them […]

  2. […] “Fish Senses & How They Use Them – Part 2,” I mentioned that fish can hear an angler’s heavy tread. Fish can also see […]

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