Osteichthyes are a taxonomic grouping of bony fishes. This group includes ray-finned fishes (class: Actinopterygii) and lobe-finned fishes (class: Sarcopterygii). This highly diverse group of fishes, which contains almost all fish species, is the most diverse group of vertebrates today. Osteichthyes differ from chondrichthyes by (in most cases) possessing a bony skeleton, a swim bladder, scales (ctenoid, cycloid, or ganoid scales), and external fertilization.
This series of small bones links the swim bladder to the inner ear in Ostariophysian fish, including minnows, carp, catfishes, and characins. When a sound wave hits the swim bladder, the vibration is transferred through the Weberian apparatus to the auditory region of the inner ear. This action helps amplify sound and, as a result, these fish have very sensitive hearing and can hear sounds that many other fish are in capable of hearing.
The swim bladder is an air filled organ used by some fish to maintain buoyancy at a desired depth and produce or hear sound.
- Physostomous swim bladders are directly connected to the gastrointestinal tract so that fish with these swim bladders, such as herrings, must “gulp” air to inflate their swim bladder and “burb” or “fart” air to deflate them.
- Physoclistous swim bladders are not connected to the digestive tract so that fish with these swim bladders must diffuse gas from the blood to fill and collapse them.
For many fish, the swim bladder has the additional role of transferring sound waves to the auditory system. And in some fish, such as drums and croakers, the swim bladder is used to make sounds and communicate with one another and other fish.