Goldfish are tiny creatures, but can they store a large amount of memory in their brains?
Pretty goldfish aren’t necessarily the most familiar species in the family. Sometimes we stick the knuckles into their odd round glass tank without caring whether they were boring or not; we also often forget to clean their homes (when this happens, the goldfish are pulled out of the tank by rough hands and thrown into the sink full of water); And when they unfortunately die, we don’t even have an official ceremony, we just throw them down the toilet. Bad, completely wrong to deal with goldfish like that.
One of the arguments people often use to excuse neglect is that goldfish don’t remember how many times they’ve been harassed. Many people say that goldfish have terrible memories, when their memory can only last for about … only 3 seconds. But is it true?
According to the Animals page, no one has a sure answer. To prove it, let’s take a look at a study that was done to show that fish memory in general is not as bad as it is said. The first test was carried out at the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel, where scientists spent an entire month “training” the fish to react to an underwater bell signaling food. After 5 months, they were released at sea to grow up, they were called back by this same signal. This not only shows that fish can develop conditional reflexes, but also that their memories can last for months.
But it’s fish in general, what about goldfish? Researchers at the University of Plymouth want to know where goldfish can learn and remember. The first result: we can teach goldfish to push a feed lever (so absolute for a creature that we still think we can’t do much!). But that’s not all: During the 3-month study, scientists adjusted the lever so that it only worked 1 hour per day. Instead of constantly pushing the lever to get nothing at all, scientists found that goldfish adapted and pushed the lever much less frequently during times without food. And they even gather around the lever when the food arrives, showing that they remember the time to come.
Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Belfast at Queen, found that goldfish would avoid hitting the walls of the tank if they were electrocuted within the previous 24 hours, suggesting they remembered possible location.