The electric organ discharges of the gymnotiform fishes: I. Apteronotus leptorhynchus

B. Rasnow, J. M. Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We present high temporal and spatial resolution maps in 3-dimensions of the electric field vector generated by the weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus. The waveforms and harmonic composition of the electric organ discharge (EOD) are variable around the fish but highly stable over long times at any position. We examine the role of harmonics on the temporal and spatial characteristics of the EOD, such as the slew rate and rostral-to-caudal propagation. We also explore the radial symmetry of the fish's field. There are major differences in the direction of the electric field vector at the head and caudal body. In the caudal part of the fish, the electric field vector rotates during the EOD cycle. However, rostral of the pectoral fin, the field magnitude and sign oscillate while maintaining relatively constant orientation. We discuss possible functional ramifications of these electric field patterns to electrolocation, communication, and electrogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Electrolocation
  • Electroreception
  • Weakly electric fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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