Sensor Fish




The Sensor Fish is a small autonomous device that uses multiple sensors to measure the physical stressorsfish experience when passing through or around dams. The sensors provide accurate, physical measurements for acceleration, pressure, rotational velocity, and orientation, which convey what real fish may experience during downstream passage. Not only can the Sensor Fish provide valuable data but it also results in saved time, cost, and lower ecological impacts than conducting fish tagging studies to measure survival through hydropower structures.

Sensor Fish was designed to have a size and density similar to a yearling salmon smolt and is nearly neutrally-buoyant body in freshwater. A smaller version of the Sensor Fish, known as Sensor Fish Mini, was recently developed for studying small hydropower turbines with a small clearances between the turbine blades. The Sensor Fish Mini (left) and Sensor Fish (right) are pictured at the top of the page. 


PNNL researchers prepare (left), deploy (center), and recover (right) Sensor Fish that were deployed to better understand hydraulic conditions at Ice Harbor Dam (Washington). 


Technical parameters of the Sensor Fish and Sensor Fish Mini 

  Sensor Fish Sensor Fish Mini
Dimensions (mm) 24.5 x 89.9 23.2
Weight (g) 42.1 6.4
Sampling rate (Hz) 2048 2048
Max acceleration (G) 200 200
Max rotation velocity (°/s)  2000 2000
Max pressure (psi (absolute)) 203 203
Orientation measurement Yes Yes
Temperature Yes Yes
Flash Memory (Mbit)​​​​ 128 64
Max recording time (s) 292 164
Data communication rate (bits/s)  921 600 921 600
Battery capacity (mAh) 110 50
Built-in RF transmitter Yes  No but design includes accommodations to add in future
Automatic flotation System and Recovery LED Yes No


Who uses the Sensor Fish?

The Sensor Fish is currently licensed and available commercially through Advanced Telemetry Systems. Many research studies have deployed the Sensor Fish to learn more about hydraulic conditions at hydropower facilities. Visit the Library for more information on these studies. 

Interested in using the Sensor Fish?

  • For information on licensing Sensor Fish, contact PNNL Commercialization Manager Sara Hunt at (206) 528-3535 or
  • Check out our news page for upcoming webinars and other current events. 
  • Visit our Work with Us page.