MAY 25, 2020 6:01 AM PDT

Ever Wonder How Some Fish Produce Electricity?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When you hear the term ‘electric fish,’ the first thing that probably comes to mind is the infamous electric eel. It’s an aquatic animal capable of stunning nearby threats with a powerful electric shock so that it can make a sly getaway. But as it turns out, the electric eel isn’t the only fish capable of producing electric fields; there are quite literally hundreds of examples.

Electric fish can be categorized into two different sections, with the first being weakly electric, and the second being strongly electric. Just as the names of each category suggest, weakly electric fish don’t produce that much electricity, and mostly use it as a means of communication or navigation whereas strongly electric fish produce a lot of electricity that can be used to harm potential threats and hunt for prey.

The vast majority of electric fish reside in the weakly electric fish group, and they take advantage of specialized electric organs to produce up to a volt of electricity. That electricity gets sent to disk-shaped cells calls electrocytes, which can store and invoke the electricity as needed depending on the signals they receive from the animal’s brain.

Only a handful of electric fish reside in the strongly electric fish group, and they have dedicated electric organs in various parts of their body. The electric eel, one of the best-known examples, is the strongest of all known electric fish, and can produce up to 600 volts of power that moves several meters in every direction to stun prey and ward off potential threats.

As interesting as electric fish are, there’s one question that scientists still ask themselves today, and that’s, ‘why don’t electric fish shock themselves when they generate electricity underwater?’ Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer to that question backed with scientific evidence, but it’s something we’ll continue to ask as their incredible behavior continues to fascinate us.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 19, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Genetic Surveys Could Help Save Coral Reefs
JUL 19, 2020
Genetic Surveys Could Help Save Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are a significant source of biodiversity and may support up to 25% of life in the ocean. Corals around the w ...
AUG 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
AUG 21, 2020
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
Indoor cannabis cultivation is considered to produce the highest quality cannabis available, but the elephant in the roo ...
SEP 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
SEP 01, 2020
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
Humans use cannabidiol (CBD) for its array of health benefits, and household pets even benefit from CBD treatments in sp ...
SEP 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Revealing More About the Past With a New Metagenomic Technique
SEP 17, 2020
Revealing More About the Past With a New Metagenomic Technique
Scientists can use advanced genomics techniques to mine samples for all the genetic material they contain.
NOV 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
More Ancient Females Were Hunters Than Assumed
NOV 10, 2020
More Ancient Females Were Hunters Than Assumed
It has been thought that ancient human groups had a loose structure in which men were the hunters and women were the gat ...
NOV 18, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
NOV 18, 2020
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
From pandemic precautions to televised talent shows, masks are having a moment. Even this bizarre bat species has a buil ...
Loading Comments...