3D sensorless, ultrasound fish tracking

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This technology has been developed in the FIThydro project! See Innovative technologies from FIThydro for a complete list.

Quick summary

Figure 1: Experimental setup for testing and development of the 3D sensorless ultrasound fish tracking (TU Munich).

3D sensorless, ultrasonic fish tracking originates from an idea at Technical University of Munich. A European patent has been applied. During the FIThydro project the TRL level of the device has been raised and the technology has been demonstrated in a relevant environment.

Developed by: Chair of Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering, Chair of Non-Destructive Testing, TU Munich

Date: February 2019

Type: Device, Method


The device (Figure 1) works without tagging fish and is similar to 3D tomographic imaging. It detects fish in rivers with high spatial and temporal resolution over a distance of a couple of hundred meters. Ultra-sonic transducers (receivers and emitters) are positioned in the water. When one transducer emits the others receive the signal. Emitting and receiving cycles around the devices with high frequency. As the resolution is in the range of only a few centimetres it is expected to measure the length of fish and even determine the fish species by the shape of the fish bladder.


The device can be used to detect sensorless fish in 3D. This cannot only be used to track fish in 3D but also to adapt operation of a hydropower plant to the needs of migrating fish. During the FIThydro project the TRL level needs to be raised from TRL4 to TRL5. So far, only first results are available and they show good potential. However, there is still a long way to go for a first prototype application in real rivers.

Relevant mitigation measures and test cases

Relevant measures
Baffle fishways
Bottom-type intakes (Coanda screen, Lepine water intake, etc)
Bypass combined with other solutions
Complete or partial migration barrier removal
Fish guidance structures with narrow bar spacing
Fish lifts, screws, locks, and others
Fish-friendly turbines
Fish refuge under hydropeaking conditions
Fishways for eels and lampreys
Mitigating rapid, short-term variations in flow (hydro-peaking operations)
Nature-like fishways
Operational measures (turbine operations, spillway passage)
Other types of fine screens
Pool-type fishways
Sensory, behavioural barriers (electricity, light, sound, air-water curtains)
Skimming walls (fixed or floating)
Truck transport
Vertical slot fishways
Relevant test cases Applied in test case?
Altheim test case -
Altusried test case -
Anundsjö test case -
Freudenau test case -
Gotein test case -
Guma and Vadocondes test cases -
Günz test case -
Ham test case -
Las Rives test case -
Trois Villes test case -

Other information

European patent applied (application 15 188 223.0-1020)

Relevant literature

Contact information

Peter Rutschmann (TUM)