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Electric eels and other electric fish

  1. Jul 28, 2010 #1

    I'm an undergrad physics student interested in strongly electric fish that are capable of actually remotely electrocuting other fish. I understand that they are capable of achieving a separation of charge within an electric organ through processes that I'm not very interested in just now. This is then some kind of dipole and it creates an electric field around the fish of the usual shape.

    What puzzles me is how the eel goes from having this separation of charge inside itself to a current running through the target fish.

    Wikipedia's article on Electric Organ talks about a "firing" of the electric organ -
    I'm not quite sure what this means, I suppose it must be that the eel allows the organ to return to equilibrium, with a current running through the electric organ. Again, how does this result in another fish, some distance away being electrocuted?

    I read "On the function and evolution of electric organs in Fish" H W Lissman, 1957, which is an article mentioned by Wikipedia, but it was mostly about weakly electric fish that use electricity for communication and navigation.

    Can anyone offer a simple explanation of how fish can use electricity offensively like this or tell me where I might read about it?

  2. jcsd
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