Robotic fish traumatised invasive species until they’re too scared to breed

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Invasive species infamously demolish natural ecosystems once someone introduces them into their unnatural climate. Over time, these species rapidly breed and take over habitats. With that in mind, man-made issues often require man-made solutions, and the solution to one particular invasive species is... robotic fish.

Robotic fish vs Eastern Mosquitofish

In this instance, robotic fish are being introduced to areas ravaged by Eastern Mosquitofish. The species was introduced to fight overpopulated mosquitos by eating their larvae. However, the species was soon found to be more interested in taking over other fishes’ territory. 

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Specifically, the Eastern Mosquitofish were found to be mutilating other water-based species. Freshwater fish and tadpoles would be found with their tails bitten off. Without these appendages, they would perish.

Via a report by NewScientist, a team at the University of Western Australia has devised a solution: A Robofish. Designed after a Largemouth Bass, one of the Mosquitofish’s predators, the robotic fish will scare away the invasive population.

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The robot traumatised fish

The Australian Robofish's purpose is to decrease the population of Eastern Mosquitofish. In just a few weeks of testing, that purpose appears to already be fulfilled. During a recent practical experiment, evidence has already surfaced regarding the robot’s practicality.

In a test on six “wild-caught” Mosquitofish, the robotic fish was used to terrify the invasive species when it tried to attack the local wildlife. To put out simply: this act of intimidation traumatised the Mosquitofish.

After the attack, the Mosquitofish showed obvious weight loss. Additionally, fertility was reduced in both males and females with males developing thinner tails and females producing lighter eggs. Additionally, the effects of the attacks continued to last even once the attacks stopped.

By traumatising the Mosquitofish population, the team wishes to decrease breeding ability without outright killing fish. As it turns out, they might just be able to do it. However, it'll be quite some time before the Robofish can be used in the wild.