Goldfish memory myth busted

  1. I always thought my goldfish was more than a pretty face :smile:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23231704-12377,00.html

    February 18, 2008

    • Goldfish 'can remember things for days'
    • Student researcher fighting for goldfish rights
    • Says fish can deal with 'fairly complex concepts'

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    Out of the blue ... it sees our pet fish are smarter than we think.

    A 15-year-old South Australian school student has busted the myth that goldfish have a three second memory.

    Rory Stokes, from the Australian Science and Mathematics School in Adelaide, conducted an experiment to test the commonly held theory that goldfish have short memory spans.

    He was also keen to open people's minds to the cruelty of keeping fish in small tanks.

    "We are told that a goldfish has a memory span of less than three seconds and that no matter how small its tank is, it will always discover new places and objects," Rory said.

    "I wanted to challenge this theory as I believe it is a myth intended to make us feel less guilty about keeping fish in small tanks."

    Rory's experiment involved teaching a small group of fish to swim to a beacon by establishing a memory connection between the beacon and food.

    Over a period of three weeks, he placed a beacon in the water at feeding time each day, waited 30 seconds and then sprinkled fish food around the beacon.

    The time taken for the fish to swim to the beacon reduced dramatically, from more than one minute for the first few feeds to less than five seconds by the end of the three weeks.

    Following the initial three-week period, Rory removed the beacon from the feeding process.

    Six days later, he once again placed the beacon in the water and despite not seeing it for almost a week, the fish swam to the beacon in 4.4 seconds, showing they had remembered the association between food and the beacon for at least six days.

    "My results strongly showed that goldfish can retain knowledge for at least six days," Rory said.

    "They can retain that knowledge indefinitely if they use it regularly."

    Rory also conducted a number of other experiments to show goldfish were capable of negotiating a simple maze, by having them move onto a second beacon if they found no food at the first.

    "My experiments showed that goldfish have the mental capabilities to learn and remember fairly complex concepts and they can retain that knowledge for at least a number of days," he said.

    Australian Science and Mathematics School principal Jim Davies said the series of experiments were an excellent example of science investigation made fun.
     
  2. hhhmm.....thxs for the little insight..:p
     
  3. Well, I guess I will have to stop telling my friend he has the memory of a fish!
     
  4. ^ :roflmfao: - funny!
     
  5. wow, that's pretty cool! thanks for posting!
     
  6. awww! everyone go out and buy your goldfish bigger tanks! :smile:
     
  7. Very interesting article.

    It has always bothered me to see fish (and birds, for that matter) forced to live in compact quarters.

    I also have heard that it is a myth that Beta fish like living in small cups. When I used to have my Beta, he lived in a HUGE bowl and lived for years!! :smile:
     
  8. ^ I think that's the way to do it, give them a palace!!! I also hate seeing birds in small cages where they can't even fly. I would never buy a bird, but if I did, I'd love to have an entire bird room! like the ones you see at zoos! lol
     
  9. So interesting! Thanks for posting!
     
  10. I think it's neat that he took the time to test, and prove, his theory. I've always felt badly for fish in small quarters.
     
  11. ita!! my beta lives in a 5 gallon tank. he loves it. he swims all over the place all day. i don't understand the whole cup thing and think it is so mean.
    i know this is kinda OT, but we have a saltwater tank as well. i posted pics awhile ago. anyway... the only survivor is an eel. my heart is broken. puffers are my favorite but i won't even get another one because i was so attached to mine. and lionfish are dh's favorite and i woke up to find that he had passed so i got him out of the tank and made a little coffin in a box for him because i didn't want dh to have to see him. i was the one who found my puffer dead and it made me so sad. anyway, we're going to start a reef tank now and i'm so excited about that. i know it takes a long time to get them well established... especially because ours is a 72 gallon tank. but eventually i will be able to have seahorses! i'm sorry i totally went off track with that post but i can go on and on about the whole fish thing lol as if you couldn't tell lol.

    anyway, thanks for that goldfish post... very interesting!!
     
  12. YAY!!! I always loved goldfish, and hated that people kept putting them in tiny glass bowls without sufficient oxygen or filters. Save the goldfish!
     
  13. Interesting article.
     
  14. interesting, thanks for posting. time to get a bigger tank
     
  15. Awww I know how you feel! I am so attached to our fish, too!

    SO and I have a 55 gallon tank that we house all of our rescued feeder-fish goldfish in!

    They have all gotten HUGE though, so we will be transplanting the two biggest ones into my aunt's pond so that they are all more comfortable.

    When your reef tank is up and running, I would LOVE to see pics!!!