The flow fields involved in hydrodynamic imaging by blind Mexican cave fish (Astyanax fasciatus). Part II: gliding parallel to a wall

Shane P. Windsor*, Stuart E. Norris, Stuart M. Cameron, Gordon D. Mallinson, John C. Montgomery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Blind Mexican cave fish (Astyanax fasciatus) are able to sense detailed information about objects by gliding alongside them and sensing changes in the flow field around their body using their lateral line sensory system. Hence the fish are able to build hydrodynamic images of their surroundings. This study measured the flow fields around blind cave fish using particle image velocimetry (PIV) as they swam parallel to a wall. Computational fluid dynamics models were also used to calculate the flow fields and the stimuli to the lateral line sensory system. Our results showed that characteristic changes in the form of the flow field occurred when the fish were within approximately 0.20 body lengths (BL) of a wall. The magnitude of these changes increased steadily as the distance between the fish and the wall was reduced. When the fish were within 0.02 BL of the wall there was a change in the form of the flow field owing to the merging of the boundary layers on the body of the fish and the wall. The stimuli to the lateral line appears to be sufficient for fish to detect walls when they are 0.10 BL away (the mean distance at which they normally swim from a wall), but insufficient for the fish to detect a wall when 0.25 BL away. This suggests that the nature of the flow fields surrounding the fish are such that hydrodynamic imaging can only be used by fish to detect surfaces at short range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3832-3842
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


  • computational fluid dynamics
  • hydrodynamic imaging
  • lateral line
  • biomechanics
  • Astyanax fasciatus

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