Teen scientist disproves goldfish memory myth

Filed under: Teens, In The News, Weird But True

I am not an expert on pet fish, but apparently goldfish are thought to have extremely short memory spans. Like three seconds short. Because of this, swimming around and around in a tiny bowl day after day is not a problem for them. At least that was the common wisdom among those who know about such things until 15-year-old Rory Stokes decided to prove that theory wrong. Stokes is a student at the Australian Science and Mathematics School in Adelaide and he thinks keeping fish in small tanks is cruel and his groundbreaking research into goldfish memory spans would seem to back that up.

His experiment involved putting a beacon of light into the water and then waiting 30 seconds before sprinkling in some food. At first, the fish took more than a minute to swim to the beacon. But by the end of three weeks, the fish were responding to the beacon and swimming over for food in less than five seconds. He then quit using the beacon at feeding time for six days. After that period, he reintroduced the beacon and the fish swam to it in 4.4 seconds, proving that they remembered the association between the beacon and being fed.

"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," Stokes says. "My results strongly showed that goldfish can retain knowledge for at least six days." Interesting stuff and pretty impressive for a teen-aged scientist.

via Hoovaloo

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.