Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Exp Biol. 2014 Jul 15;217(Pt 14):2548-54. doi: 10.1242/jeb.100149.

Attachment to challenging substrates--fouling, roughness and limits of adhesion in the northern clingfish (Gobiesox maeandricus).

Author information

University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA 98250, USA Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Zoological Institute of the University of Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany
University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA 98250, USA Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA 98250, USA.


Northern clingfish use a ventral suction disc to stick to rough substrates in the intertidal zone. Bacteria, algae and invertebrates grow on these surfaces (fouling) and change the surface properties of the primary substrate, and therefore the attachment conditions for benthic organisms. In this study, we investigate the influence of fouling and surface roughness on the adhesive strength of northern clingfish, Gobiesox maeandricus. We measured clingfish tenacity on unfouled and fouled substrates over four surface roughnesses. We exposed surfaces for 6 weeks in the Pacific Ocean, until they were covered with periphyton. Clingfish tenacity is equivalent on both fouled and unfouled smooth substrates; however, tenacity on fouled rough surfaces is less compared with tenacity on unfouled ones. We hypothesize that parts of biofilm may act as a lubricant and decrease friction of the disc margin, thereby making disc margins slip inwards and fail at lower tenacities. Nevertheless, even on fouled surfaces the adhesive forces are approximately 150 times the body weight of the fish. To identify the upper threshold of surface roughness the fish can cling to, we tested seven unfouled substrates of increasing surface roughness. The threshold roughness at which northern clingfish failed increased with specimen size. We hypothesize that because of the elastic properties of the disc margin, a larger disc can adapt to larger surface irregularities. The largest specimens (length 10-12 cm) were able to cling to surfaces with 2-4 mm grain size. The fish can attach to surfaces with roughness between 2 and 9% of the suction disc width.


Attachment; Biofilm; Functional morphology; Gobiesocidae; Periphyton; Suction disc; Surface roughness

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center