Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Michael L. Fine


Acoustically, teleost swimbladders have been considered resonant underwater bubbles. Contrary results indicating that bladders are tuned less sharply than such a bubble have been explained by damping of surrounding fish tissue. Recent findings in toadfish and weakfish, however, suggest that the bladder is a highly damped structure and that the frequency of the fish sounds is deternlined as a forced response to sonic muscle movement rather than by resonance of the bladder. In this study I examined acoustics and material properties of swimbladders in Tilapia (an auditory generalist) and the channel catfish (an auditory specialist). The swimbladder was struck with a piezoelectric impact hammer. Amplitude and timing characteristics of bladder sound and displacement were compared for strikes of different amplitudes. Most of the first cycle of sound occurs during swimbladder compression, indicating that the bladder rapidly contracts and expands as force increases during the strike. Harder hits are shorter in duration generate a similar displacement duration with an increasing number of shorter cycles and a 12-15 dB increase in sound amplitude. The frequency spectrum is broad, and the dominant frequency is driven by the strike and not the natural frequency of the bladder. The displacement waveform varies between species catfish exhibit a greater structural stiffness and lower amplitude movement and higher sound amplitude for an equivalent hammer strike. Material properties (peak load, stress, strain, Young's modulus), fiber direction (catfish only), and structural stiffiless of bladders exhibit various patterns suggesting that the bladder walls are not uniform structures. Additionally thickness varies regionally. Notably Young's modulus in both species is similar despite large difference in stress and strain. The modulus of catfish bladder increased 1600-fold when dried. Finally the bladder of both species had a high water content averaging about 70%. These data suggest that viscous damping caused by water in the bladder wall is a major factor responsible for acoustic properties of the teleost swimbladder.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Biology Commons