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I always disagreed with the supposed experts who said fish have a 30 secong memory. Now there is proof!

FROM : UnderwaterTimes.com

ALBURY, Australia -- Have you heard the one about fish having only a three second memory - by the time they swim around the bowl, they’ve forgotten where they are and swim around again?


“It’s absolute rubbish,” says Dr Kevin Warburton, an adjunct researcher with Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society who has been studying fish behavior for many years.


“There’s been a lot of work done over the last 15 years on learning and memory in fish and it as been found that fish are quite sophisticated. Fish can remember prey types for months; they can learn to avoid predators after being attacked once and they retain this memory for several months; and carp that have been caught by fishers avoid hooks for at least a year. That fish have only a three second memory is just rubbish.”


Dr Warburton, whose research has focused on Australia’s freshwater fish, particularly local native fish in South East Queensland, has run experiments looking at how Silver Perch learn how to handle different types of prey.


“What came out, unexpectedly, was that while they were learning about their prey, their foraging efficiency went down,” said Dr Warburton. “With one type of prey, the fish got more and more efficient at catching their [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]food[/COLOR][/COLOR], but when we put two different types of prey in together, their overall efficiency dropped. We think it was because of they suffered from divided attention. It’s a cost of learning.”


Another example of fish memory was that fish can learn to avoid predators after being attacked once – this memory was retained for several months.
Dr Warburton said fish also exhibit behaviors that we tend to think as human.


“Some behavioral traits that we think are very human, such as deception, fish have as well,” said Dr Warburton. “Fish can recognize other individuals and modify their own behavior after observing interactions between other individuals. For example Siamese fighting fish will attack other members of the same species more aggressively if they’ve seen them lose contests with other fighters.”


Dr Warburton said fish inspect suspected predators to assess the level of threat.
“For added safety, they often do this as cooperating pairs, with the two fish taking the lead alternately,” he said. “They will approach predators most closely when they have cooperated in previous inspections.”
He said minnows recognize dangerous habitats by associating the smell of the water with ‘alarm’ chemicals that are released when fellow minnows are damaged by predators. This learned response to habitat water can be socially transmitted to naïve fish.


In reef environments, cleaner fish remove and [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]eat[/COLOR][/COLOR]
parasites from larger ‘client’ fish.


“But what’s fascinating is that they cooperate more with clients when they are being observed by other potential clients,” said Dr Warburton. “This improves their ’image‘ and their chances of attracting clients. Some cleaners cooperate with small clients to raise their image so as to deceive
larger clients, which they then cheat on by biting them rather than removing their parasites!”
 

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Great article you found :) In my animal behaviour class we talked about stuff like this with fish. We talked about some trials with goldfish which can be trained by certain cues: like whenever a red light flashes in their tank, they will get fed until they will associate that light with food. They took away the stimulus for a few months and fed them normally again, and when they brought the light back they remembered that it meant!!! That's like just an short version, I believe they made people un-seen throughout the experiment to the fish because they can usually tell if a person is around that they will get fed lol so it would disrupt the results.

We had to train a pet for that class I super wanted to do my betta with a similar situation but we had to train out a behaviour problem in an animal rather then conditioning them to a certain stimulus. So trained my aunt's dog lol. But oh well!
 

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Great article you found :) In my animal behaviour class we talked about stuff like this with fish. We talked about some trials with goldfish which can be trained by certain cues: like whenever a red light flashes in their tank, they will get fed until they will associate that light with food. They took away the stimulus for a few months and fed them normally again, and when they brought the light back they remembered that it meant!!!

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I have known for years that the so-called experts were cuckoo regarding this particular behavior. It is good to know you guys did a hands-on experiment!
 

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Yea it was quite fun, that was one of the many a mini experiements I've had for my classes but I did an honours thesis so I had to participate in a real one. My topic with my supervisor was laying hen welfare, like improving their cages to make their lives more enriched, but also making it suitable for production. Perhaps production can someday improve their welfare somewhat without discouraging the farmers from these methods due to poor efficiency or extra expenses with no gain on their part. As you know most things are more production driven rather than focusing on the animal. It was really fun, but it was a long 6 month experiment a lot of work.
 

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Cool article. I think if more people recognized that fish have better memory/more intelligence than they once thought, they might start holding them to a higher standard than, "oh, well they're just fish." =)
 

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And maybe, VeilTail, this will help people see that they are more like us than they thought. Perhaps seeing them as sentient beings, they will not be so ready to flush them when things don't go just right.
 

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I definately think that fish have a long memory. I once trained on of my bettas to jump out of the water and catch food off of my finger. and theirs no way he forgot that 30 seconds later. tho in his old age he cant seem to be able to catch the food anymore so i just fed him normally. And i made some really cute home videos :)
 
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