Synchronisation and collective swimming patterns in Hemigrammus bleheri

I. Ashraf, R. Godoy-Diana, J. Halloy, B. Collignon, B. Thiria
Journal of the Royal Society Interface 13 20160734 (2016)

In this work, we address the case of red nose tetra fish Hemigrammus bleheri swimming in groups in a uniform flow, giving special attention to the basic interactions and cooperative swimming of a single pair of fish. We first bring evidence of synchronization of the two fish, where the swimming modes are dominated by ‘out-phase’ and ‘in-phase’ configurations. We show that the transition to this synchronization state is correlated with the swimming speed (i.e. the flow rate), and thus with the magnitude of the hydro- dynamic pressure generated by the fish body during each swimming cycle. From a careful spatio-temporal analysis corresponding to those synchronized modes, we
characterize the distances between the two individuals in a pair in the basic schooling pattern. We test the conclusions of the analysis of fish pairs with a second set of experiments using groups of three fish. By identifying the typical spatial configurations, we explain how the nearest neighbour interactions constitute the building blocks of collective fish swimming.

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