Many animals are vocal and produce communication sounds during social behaviour. Despite vocal communication being widespread among fishes, our knowledge on the mechanisms and importance of fish sound production are still lacking.
For example, triglid fish feed in groups and individuals that produce sounds while approaching food are more likely to feed. Because fish emit sounds during aggressive exhibitions just before grasping food, our studies suggest that uttering sounds may deter other fish from gaining access to disputed food items.
Another example studied in our lab is the Lusitanian toadfish. Males nest under rocks in shallow water and produce advertising calls using the swimming bladder to attract females. Females lay their eggs in the nest and leave the male to provide parental care. We found that males that call more often and for longer bouts are more likely to attract females into their nest.
In summary, fish sounds can be important in competitive situations, in the choice of mates, and to the synchronization of reproductive activities.
Amorim M.C.P., Conti C., Sousa-Santos C., Novais B., Gouveia M.D., Vicente J.R., Modesto T., Gonçalves A., Fonseca P.J. (2016). Reproductive success in the Lusitanian toadfish: influence of calling activity, male quality and experimental design. Physiology and Behaviour.155:17-24. pdf
Amorim M.C.P., Vasconcelos R.O., Fonseca P.J. (2015). Fish sounds and mate choice. In: Sound communication in fishes. Animal Signals and Communication, Vol. 4. Ladich, F. (ed.). Springer-Verlag, Wien, pp 1-33. pdf
Amorim M.C.P., Simões J.M., Mendonça N., Bandarra N., Almada V.C., Fonseca P.J. (2012). Lusitanian toadfish song reflects male quality. Bioacoustics 1:65-66. pdf
Amorim M.C.P., Hawkins A.D. (2005). Ontogeny of acoustic and feeding behaviour in the grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus. Ethology 111: 255-269. pdf