New Aquarium Haunt For Ghostly Knifefish

Ghost KnifeFish

Deep Sea World, Scotland’s national aquarium, is providing a spooky new haunt for a mysterious South American ghost knifefish.

Knifefish can reach up to half a metre in length and are found throughout the Amazon basin.  Locals believe the ghosts of the departed take up residence in the fish, which are black and mainly nocturnal.

As well as their supernatural reputation, the fish are also capable of producing weak electrical fields which they use both to help them navigate through the often murky and muddy Amazonian waters and to hunt.

It is also thought the electrical fields enable them to communicate with each other and they have even developed their own avoidance response which allows them to alter the frequency of their electrical output to prevent jamming signals from other nearby fish.

Deep Sea World’s Michael Morris said: “Ghost knifefish are among the most unusual types of freshwater fish. This particular specimen was donated to the aquarium by a member of the public after it outgrew its tank.

“In addition to their sophisticated use of electricity, both to sense their surroundings and communicate with each other, they are also the focal point for several local myths and folklore going back hundreds of years.

“As they only really become active at night, and as they look so bizarre, it’s not hard to imagine how people could have come to see them as strange and supernatural creatures,” he added.

US scientists are currently developing robotic fish which mimic the ghost fish’s weak, self-generated electric field. They hope they will one day be used to investigate sunken ships, repair damaged deep-sea oil rigs, and research fragile coral reefs. 

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