'Fish memory lasts much more than three seconds'

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Melbourne, Jan 15 (ANI): The belief that fish have a short memory is wrong, say Australian researchers.

They say that fish have a memory that lasts much more than three seconds and are capable of deception and learning.

Dr Kevin Warbuton, an adjunct researcher at the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University in Albury, New South Wales, has been studying fish for more than 30 years and says they're much better at memory than we give them credit for.

Warbuton's research has focused on Australian freshwater fish, particularly in southeast Queensland.

He said that the idea that fish have only a miniscule memory span is rubbish.

"It's absolute rubbish. There's been a lot of work done over the last 15 years on learning and memory in fish and it has been found that fish are quite sophisticated," ABC Science quoted Warbuton as saying.

"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," Warbuton added.

Warbuton believes fish are capable of learning, albeit at a cost. For example, his research on the silver perch revealed something unexpected.

"With one type of prey, the fish got more and more efficient at catching their food. But when we put two different types of prey in together, their overall efficiency dropped. We think it was because they suffered from divided attention. It's a cost of learning," he said.

Warbuton also believes that fish are also capable of exhibiting human-like behaviours, such as deception.

"Fish can recognise other individuals and modify their own behaviour after observing interactions between other individuals. Siamese fighting fish will attack other members of the same species more aggressively if they've seen them lose contests with other fighters," he said.

Warbuton said that cleaner fish - reef fish that eat parasites off other larger fish - will also be on the lookout to assess the situation and work out how best to take advantage.

"What's fascinating is that they cooperate more with clients when they are being observed by other potential clients. This improves their image and their chances of attracting clients," Warburton said. (ANI)

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