Do Fish Like Music? How it Affects their Behavior and Health

Many people who have pets will tell you that music is a great way to calm their animal down. This may be true for some animals, but what about fish? Fish are not often thought of as being very intelligent animals. However, they do respond to sound in different ways.

In this blog post we will explore how music affects our fish friends!

do fish like music? a drawing of a yellow fish in the water listening to music

Can Fish hear?

First, we should consider whether fish can actually hear. Fish do not have ears or any other visible external organs that would suggest they can hear. They also lack the semicircular canal organ, which is used to detect sound waves in animals with an ear drum.

It has been found in studies done on fish that there are tiny hairs inside their head and around their body on their skin that may act as hearing sensors when water currents from surrounding objects make contact with them. So it seems fish can sense vibrations rather than actually hear sounds or having an ability to listen like we do!

Does music attract or scare fish?

Now that we have established that fish are able to sense vibrations, we need to figure out if they feel comfortable and relaxed when exposed to these vibrations.

It was found that fish will choose quieter water over louder water- so it seems like the answer is no! But this may be because of other factors such as light levels or food availability rather than an aversion to noise per se.

Another study done on tilapia showed them reacting positively (leaning towards) sound sources at higher frequencies instead of negative ones which would suggest they are not adverse to sounds generally, just loud scary noises!

In the last study, it was found that fish were more responsive to higher frequency sounds. This is interesting because music usually contains high and low frequencies which gives scientists a better idea of what kind of sound might be appropriate for use in fish tanks or ponds. The type of noise may depend on whether you want your fish to feel calm (low) or active (high). It also depends on how loud the environment around them will be- so there’s no one right answer!

There are many other scientific papers out there about this topic but they all seem to have their own conclusions- some say yes, others say no…

How does music affect fish behavior and health?

Fish behavior seems to be impacted by music in that the fish tend to be more attracted to the music than they are by other noises.

The sensation of being able to hear music can stimulate their response and it may even have some therapeutic effects on them, depending on what kind of noise is played.

For example, with opera-type classical music that has a high frequency component (for instance, in French Horns), lab experiments show increased swim speeds among young zebrafish. This suggests that these types of sounds might make the animals feel alert or active when listening to this type of sound at higher volumes over time.

Music can apparently also have an effect on fish health: One study found that livelier songs led to more vigorous swimming by Goldfish; another showed how different genres caused changes in cortisol levels.

Do fish like music?

We know now that fishes don’t hear sounds; they feel current say through their body or detect vibrations. Music can also have an effect on fish behavior and health. This leads us back to our original question: Do fish like music?

The honest answer is we don’t yet know for sure but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence out there suggesting that some do react positively when exposed to certain types of tunes! It is important to note that there has been no definitive research done on this question so it’s still unclear if they actually enjoy what we call music, but there is certainly room for wild speculation!

a drawing of three fish listening to a music player

What kind of music do fish like?

The only study I know about was conducted by Japanese researchers who found that zebrafish reacted more positively when exposed to classical, opera type sounds and jazz than rock, pop, techno, hip hop, country or metal (which all elicited similar reactions). However their reaction seemed very biased to these types of sounds at higher volumes over time.

How do fish respond to classical music?

Another study looked at cortisol levels in carp while listening to different genres such as classical, pop and rock. The carp seemed to react positively when exposed to classical music at the lowest volume (which I found fascinating). They also showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels after exposure. So classical music can potentially help reduce stress in fish.

That being said, it is difficult to get answers on how different marine species could possibly react to classical music being played inside their tank.

Can loud music kill fish?

Loud music is not known to be fatal to fish, but it can affect their habitat and how they interact with other species. Still, the sound waves of loud sound creating constant vibrations underwater in an aquarium in my opinion could stress fish, despite them not having ears or hearing in a traditional sense.

What is the purpose of music in a fish tank?

Some people play music as a way to calm their fish or create an environment that they like in order to improve the music fish life.

Can you use speakers underwater with your tank?

The best type of speaker to use will depend on what size of tank you are using it for. For tanks up to 30 gallons in capacity, I would recommend buying one of these small wireless waterproof speakers which can be used either inside the aquarium or outside (as long as there is access to power). For larger tanks, I would suggest looking into some good quality submersible water proof stereo pumps instead since those tend to successfully produce better bass.

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How do we know if our aquarium is too noisy?

If you decide to go with a speaker inside the tank, make sure to get one that is waterproof and has a low frequency response. Although it may be hard to tell exactly how loud your tank is since you can’t really measure “sound” underwater, I would say if any of your fish seem stressed or appear startled when there are certain sounds coming from the water (for example: turning on an air pump) then chances are that this might not be good for them.

If none of those options work out well for you or don’t address what you’re looking for, try using some background music in order to create an environment where they like spending time!

Do Fish like light?

If you are wondering what we know about fish like something related other than sound, one study observed that they seem drawn towards light which makes sense because it’s necessary for them to survive. However this doesn’t necessarily mean they “like” the light as much as recognize its importance.

a mermaid playing the harp


So based on all of these studies there is no definitive answer if fish enjoy or dislike music like us humans since it has not been researched thoroughly enough yet! Do you think your pet fish would respond differently like jump out of the water or swim against the glass as if chased by predators? Comment below with any thoughts or questions!