A Moment of Science

Do Fish Have Memories?

Your pet fish's cognitive abilities will probably surprise you!

Several gold fish viewed from above

Photo: Hiroyuki Takeda (flickr)

These little swimmers are a lot smarter than you think!

Have you ever wondered whether or not fish are able to remember things the way humans do? After all, they seem like such simple creatures.

Aquarium Intelligence

There’s actually a lot of research out there on fish memory, and despite the fact that the internet abounds with rumors that goldfish can only remember for a few seconds, experiments show that once they’re taught to perform a certain task in response to a certain stimulus, goldfish will remember the task for several days.

(Of course, anyone who has ever owned an aquarium knows how quickly fish learn to associate wiggling fingers with food.)

Olfactory Imprinting

Another example of fish memory is the way salmon use what’s known as olfactory imprinting — basically their sense of smell — to return to the same stream they were born in during mating season.

And how about all the fish that encounter a new type of prey, become efficient at feeding on it, and then remember their new skills up to a month later when they encounter this prey again?

In other words, while they might not look like it, fish do have pretty good memories.

Read More:

  • Three-second memory myth: Fish show they can remember things for up to five months (Daily Mail)
  • The Hidden Lives of Fish (PETA)

 

 

 

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