Gold fish

The memory of the golden fish


What is the memory of fish? Experiments and differences in types

Probably everyone knows the saying "memory is like a goldfish," or the myth that it lasts only 3 seconds. Especially love to refer to aquarium fish. However, this saying is false, there are many examples where scientists have proven that the memory of these creatures lasts much longer. Below are two scientific experiments conducted by different people and at different times, proving this fact.

Australian experiment

He put a fifteen-year student Rorau Stokes. The young man initially doubted the veracity of the statement about the short memory of fish. It was calculated to establish how long the fish will remember an important object for it.

For the experiment, he placed several goldfish in an aquarium. After that, 13 seconds before feeding, he lowered the beacon tag into the water, which served as a signal that there would be food in this place. He lowered it in different places so that the fish memorized not the place, but the mark itself. It happened within 3 weeks. It is interesting that in the first days the fish gathered at the mark for a minute, but after the time this time was reduced to 5 seconds.

After 3 weeks passed, Rorau stopped placing tags in the aquarium and fed them for 6 days without any identifying marks. On day 7, he again placed the label in the aquarium. Surprisingly, the fish took only 4.5 seconds to gather at the mark while waiting for food.

This experiment showed that the memory of goldfish is much longer than many assumed. Instead of 3 seconds, the fish remembered what a lighthouse looks to be feeding for 6 days, and this is most likely not the limit.

If someone says that this is an isolated case, then here is another example.

Canadian cichlids

This time the experiment was conducted in Canada, and it was designed to remember not the tags, but the place where the feeding took place, by the fish. For him were taken several individuals of cichlids and two aquariums.

Scientists from the Canadian MacEwan University placed individuals of cichlids in one aquarium. For three days they were fed strictly in a certain place. Of course, on the last day most of the fish swam closer to the area where the food appeared.

After that, the fish were moved to another aquarium, which was not similar in structure to the previous one, and also differed in volume. In it, the fish spent 12 days. Then they were again placed in the first aquarium.

After the experiment, the scientists noticed that the fish concentrated most of the day in the same place where they were fed before they were transferred to the second aquarium.

This experiment proved that fish can remember not only any tags, but also places. The same practice has shown that cichlid memory can last at least 12 days.

Both experiments prove that the memory of fish is not so small. Now it’s worth figuring out what exactly it is and how it works.

How and what the fish remember


First, you need to consider that the memory of fish is completely different from the human one. They do not remember how people, some vivid events of life, holidays, etc. Basically, its components are only vital memories. In fish living in their natural environment, these include:

  • Feeding places;
  • Places of sleep;
  • Dangerous places;
  • "Enemies" and "Friends".

Some of the fish can remember the seasons and the temperature of the water. And the river remembers the speed of flow in one or another section of the river in which they live.

It has been proven that fish have precisely associative memory. This means that they capture certain images, and then can reproduce them. They have a long-term memory, which is based on memories. There is also a short-term one, which is based on habits.

For example, river species can coexist in certain groups, where each of them remembers all the "friends" from their surroundings, they eat every day in one place, and sleep in another and remember the routes between them, which bypass particularly dangerous zones. Some species, hibernating, just as well remember the old places and easily get to areas where you can find food. No matter how much time has passed, the fish can always find their way to where they were and will be most comfortable.


Now consider the inhabitants of the aquarium, they, as well as their free relatives, have two types of memory, so they may know very well:

  1. A place where you can find food.
  2. The breadwinner. They remember you, which is why, when you approach, they begin to swim vividly or gather at the feeder. How many times would you come to the aquarium.
  3. The time at which they are fed. If you do it strictly by the hour, then they, even before your approach, begin to curl at the place where, presumably, there will be food.
  4. All the inhabitants of the aquarium, who are in it, no matter how they are.

This helps them to distinguish newbies that you decide to share with them, which is why some species eschew their first time, while others swim with curiosity closer to get a better look at the guest. In either case, the newcomer does not remain without attention the first time of stay.

It can be said with certainty that the fish definitely have a memory. Moreover, its duration can be completely different, from 6 days, as the experience of the Australian has shown, to many years, like that of river carps. So if you are told that your memory is like that of a fish, then take it as a compliment, because for some people it is much less.

Why does a goldfish have a memory of 3 seconds?


A goldfish that lives in an aquarium, contrary to the supposedly common fact, does not have a memory "for 3 seconds." Studies conducted in 2003 at the School of Psychology at the University of Plitmouth, showed that the memory of goldfish "works" for no less than three months, while recognizing shapes, sounds, colors. To get a treat, they were taught to lower a small lever.
Later, in the course of these studies, the lever was adjusted so that it worked only one hour a day and the fish quickly learned to put the lever into action at the right hour. Several similar experiments have shown that it is not difficult to teach fish to feed fish in large aquariums or cages at the same time and place when a certain sound signal is given.
Also, the fish swimming in an aquarium do not touch the wall not because they see it, but because of the use of a special system that is sensitive to the pressure surrounding the fish itself. This system is called sideline. There are certain types of fish living in caves, which are well oriented in total darkness only with the help of its sideline.
Another misconception: a pregnant goldfish can in no way be a model of "perfect stupidity" (pregnant, and even blonde). The fact is that fish, including the goldfish, cannot be pregnant in principle, they spawn, which is fertilized by males right in the water.

Is it true that the memory of a goldfish is only 7 seconds?

Alexandra Brovko

Myth statement
Goldfish can not remember anything more than 3 seconds.
The subject trained his goldfish to move along a complex route using squares of colored plastic with a hole in the middle. A month later, the fish swam such a route without assistance from the subject.

Valya Malikova

A golden fish from the fairy tale by A. S. Pushkin, perhaps, in fact, could fulfill any desires and was an all-powerful being. But here's a real goldfish, as scientists believed until recently, the creation is not very smart. In their opinion, her memory can store information for only three seconds. It turned out that in fact the fish underestimated. After all, she is not only smarter, for example, trout, but also able to learn.


I think not true. We taught our children to feed and knock lightly on the aquarium. They quickly eat swim. If you do not knock, so slow down, waiting for the signal. With a seven-second memory, you will not learn this.