Fish Senses

Geophagus altifronsIs there such a thing as “Fish Senses?”

So you may be wondering can fish see really good?

Can fish smell or hear?

What about taste? Can fish taste the difference between flake food and brine shrimp?

First, lets talk about fish sight. 

Fish Sight

Fish can see quiet well in the water. Think about how dark the water really is in their natural environment. We have bright lights on our aquariums, but most of the fish we keep live in much darker environments in the wild.

The fish’s eyes are for the most part on each side of the head. Most fish have fairly large eyes. With the eyes on each side of the head, the fish can see in two different areas of your tank without moving!

The one thing I would like to stress regarding the sight of our tropical aquarium fish is that light plays a huge role in fish sight. In nature, the fish’s eyes adjust at a slower rate to light due to sunrise and sunset. Our fish do not have that luxury in our tropical fish tank. Usually we just turn on the aquarium light and “BOOM” we now have light.

The tank went from total darkness to bright light in about two seconds. This actually may scare your fish to the fact they run into decorations or the sides of the tank itself.

I suggest you turn a light in the room and let that light slowly acclimate your fish’s eyes. After about 10 minutes then you can turn on your main aquarium light. This will prevent your fish from panicking in your aquarium.

Fish Hearing

So, Can Fish Hear?

Yes they can distinguish vibrations that are sent throughout the water.

So putting your home aquarium right next to your surround sound speakers may not be the best choice of aquarium tank placement!

Smell and Taste

Fish smell and taste things just as everything else does. Fish can smell the difference in foods and some believe in mating or breeding that smell plays a role. I can tell you from personal experience that fish can smell the difference between fresh shrimp and my standard fish pellet I feed daily. As I open the top of the tank and have just a hint of shrimp odor on my fingers, the fish begin splashing the top of the water frantically.

The same is for taste. My fish love fresh cut shrimp, krill, brine shrimp, and tilapia. I hand feed some of my cichlids and I have held fresh shrimp in one hand and the standard shrimp pellets in the other and every time my fish go for the fresh shrimp in which they prefer the taste and smell over the dried pellets.

Fish senses vary depending on the species you keep. Some senses are strong in some species and weaker in others. The common hobbyists will have the hobby favorites and most of the fish’s senses are inline as I described above.


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