electric fish

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electric fish,

name for various fish that produce electricity by means of organs usually developed from modified muscle tissue. The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), a South American freshwater knifefish unrelated to the eeleel,
common name for any fish in the order Anguilliformes, and characterized by a long snakelike body covered with minute scales embedded in the skin. Eels lack the hind pair of fins, adapting them for wriggling in the mud and through the crevices of reefs and rocky shores.
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, has organs along the ventral surface capable of producing from 450 to 600 volts of electricity—enough to light a neon bulb. Other electric fish include the electric rayray,
extremely flat-bodied cartilaginous marine fish, related to the shark. The pectoral fins of most rays are developed into broad, flat, winglike appendages, attached all along the sides of the head; the animal swims by rippling movements of these wings.
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, or torpedo; a freshwater electric catfishcatfish,
common name applied to members of the fish families constituting the order Siluriformes, found in fresh and coastal waters. Catfish are named for the barbels ("whiskers") around their mouths and have scaleless skins, fleshy, rayless posterior fins, and sharp defensive
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 with a jellylike subcutaneous electric organ (probably of epidermal origin) that extends over the whole body; and various species of stargazerstargazer,
common name for any of several species of marine fishes of the family Uranoscopidae, found in southern waters, and having the mouth, nostrils, and eyes set high in the head. Stargazers lie buried in the sand, waiting for their prey of small crustaceans.
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. All these fish produce electricity at will to paralyze or kill their prey, to repel their enemies, and to aid in navigation. Recent experiments have shown that when an electric eel is in motion it generates pulses of low-energy electricity which serve to detect the presence of nearby objects. Scientists believe that electric organs in fishes may function also in communication between individuals. Electric eels are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Gymnotiformes, family Gymnotidae.

electric fish

[i¦lek·trik ′fish]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several fishes capable of producing electric discharges from an electric organ.