Altering Fish Behavior by Sensing Swarm Patterns of Fish in an Artificial Aquatic Environment Using an Interactive Robotic Fish

Udaka A. Manawadu, Malsha De Zoysa, J. D.H.S. Perera, I. U. Hettiarachchi, Stephen G. Lambacher, Chinthaka Premachandra, P. Ravindra S. De Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies have been conducted to prove the calming and stress-reducing effects on humans of visiting aquatic environments. As a result, many institutions have utilized fish to provide entertainment and treat patients. The most common issue in this approach is controlling the movement of fish to facilitate human interaction. This study proposed an interactive robot, a robotic fish, to alter fish swarm behaviors by performing an effective, unobstructed, yet necessary, defined set of actions to enhance human interaction. The approach incorporated a minimalistic but futuristic physical design of the robotic fish with cameras and infrared (IR) sensors, and developed a fish-detecting and swarm pattern-recognizing algorithm. The fish-detecting algorithm was implemented using background subtraction and moving average algorithms with an accuracy of 78%, while the swarm pattern detection implemented with a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) resulted in a 77.32% accuracy rate. By effectively controlling the behavior and swimming patterns of fish through the smooth movements of the robotic fish, we evaluated the success through repeated trials. Feedback from a randomly selected unbiased group of subjects revealed that the robotic fish improved human interaction with fish by using the proposed set of maneuvers and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1550
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb


  • fish image processing
  • motion detection
  • ostraciiform fish
  • robotic fish
  • tracking
  • underwater robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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