Fish Communicate With Each Other Through Their Urine

Submitted by: rumham 1 month ago Science
One really doesn't think about how fish talk to each other. Aquaman used telepathy, but what do fish themselves use? According to new information from olfactory communication scientists Dario-Marcos Bayani, Michael Taborsky, Joachim G. Frommen, fish communicate with each other through their urine -- you know who else uses urine for purposes other then expelling waste from their body? Yep, the current president of the United States.

It's pretty amazing how these scientists came to their theory. The team divided a group of large fish from small fish with a see-through divider. Half the dividers contained holes to allow water to flow back and forth their tanks. The scientists then injected the fish with a violet dye which turned their urine bright blue. When the fish saw each other, they raised their fins and rushed toward the divider. All urine tells me is when I've eaten too much asparagus. w/b: fancylad

There are 12 comments:
228
Hrm... what if it turns out the fish are just telling each other to "piss off!"?
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Male 256
Moose and other ungulates use their urine as an aphrodisiac.  Unless the fish are modulating the urine signals to adapt their message to the context, this isn't communication.  Broadcasting fertility isn't "communicating", which implies a back-and-forth exchange.   I'd suggest that the urine release is either a propagation tool like the ungulates, a panic release like the ink ejection of the octopus, or the emptying of the bladder before exertion, like birds do just before take off.
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Male 3,992
punko I disagree, broadcasting fertility often concludes with a back-and-forth exchange.

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Male 256
richanddead Your example shows an animal broadcasting, but no where is there any alteration of signal based on response.  Mind you, several human examples will continue to broadcast the same message over and over while completely ignoring the negative responses from the intended target(s).

At least a moose, if the female urine doesn't smell right, will go find another.
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Male 3,992
punko Oh trust me, once the animalistic broadcasting begins, the signals alternate back and forth until the male gives the female a big response.

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Male 256
richanddead See?  That is communication.  Modulating responses.  Now, if our fish modulated the - I lack the imagination to find a better word - taste of their urine to facilitate the exchange, then they are communicating.  From what I read, they are simply peeing when they see their buddies
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Male 3,992
punko 
I was actually just joking with you. But "simply peeing when they see their buddies" IMO can still be communication. In dogs, when a dog pees as soon as it sees it's buddy, it is communicating that it is subservient and is less dominant. The part where we disagree is because as you said communicating "implies a back-and-forth exchange." Yet the definition of the word specifically states that to impart information is enough to meet the standard, it does not require a response. 

Aside from that though, if you read the abstract of the study it does mention that when visual contact is given but no urine, the fish responds with more aggressive displays. In this way the open visual contact and dispensing of urine is imparting information and the occurrence of an aggressive display or reciprocating of urine is the response.
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Male 256
richanddead I was aware of the joking, I was just glad to have a reasonably intelligent "pissing match" that wasn't political.

I'm sure that broadcasting information is communication, after all the act of broadcasting at a particular moment has its basis in the context of the situation.  However, I'd be far more impressed with the study if it turned out the fish were changing their urine based on the urine discharge from the other fish.  THAT would be hellishly cool.
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Male 99
Maybe Aquaman didn't use telepathy. It's just that the actual conversation was a little to awkward for a children's cartoon.
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Male 1,762
Fancy, what does "w/b" mean? Written by, I'm guessing? While I think it's great that some notation of writer is being made when it's someone other than the submitter, may I suggest we use something a w/b (wee bit) less cryptic? Perhaps just plain old "Written by: Fancylad"? I've been seeing "w/b" for a good month and only now figured it out. (Admittedly, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.)

SHORT LIST OF THINGS SQURLZ THOUGHT "w/b: Fancylad" MIGHT MEAN
1. Welcome back: Fancylad... He's back? Where'd he go?
2. Write back: Fancylad... Some kind of message to the submitter?
3. White bread: Fancylad... I always thought he was more of a pita kinda guy.
4. Writer's block: Fancylad... Don't be so hard on yourself. You're doing just fine.
5. Well behaved: Fancylad... Good boy! ~Squrlz extends acorn in paw~
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Male 256
squrlz4ever I would have assumed "welcome back".  I never would have gone with "written by". 
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Male 1,762
punko I'm glad it's not just me who was puzzling over this. To Fancy's credit, I think he's been trying to indicate authorship of text in as low-key a way as possible. Maybe it's fine. But it was only yesterday that I said, "AHA! I think I know what that means!" ~facepaw~
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