(Positive) Rheotaxis is a form of taxis seen in many aquatic organisms, e.g., fish, whereby they will (generally) turn to face into an oncoming current. This has been noted in zebrafish and other species.[1]

In a flowing stream, this behavior leads them to hold position in a stream rather than being swept downstream by the current.

In fish that exhibit rheotaxis, it can easily be demonstrated by creating an artificial current within a tank using pumps. No matter which way the pumps force the current to flow, the fish will immediately turn to face the oncoming current.

Some organisms such as eels will exhibit negative rheotaxis where they will avoid currents.[2]

Some zooplankton also exhibit positive or negative rheotaxis.

Positive rheotaxis is found in most major aquatic invertebrate groups.


  1. Oteiza, Pablo; Odstrcil, Iris; Lauder, George; Portugues, Ruben; Engert, Florian. "A novel mechanism for mechanosensory-based rheotaxis in larval zebrafish". Nature. 547: 445–448.
  2. Du Colombier, SB; Bolliet, V; Bardonnet, A. "Swimming activity and behaviour of European Anguilla anguilla glass eels in response to photoperiod and flow reversal and the role of energy status". Journal of Fish Biology. 74 (9). doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02269.x. PMID 20735685.
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