Goldfish have long been known as a popular pet for children and adults alike. From their bright colors to their unique swimming behaviors, they are a beloved aquatic species. However, there is a common misconception that plagues goldfish owners – the belief that goldfish have a three-second memory. This misconception has led to negative stereotypes and has hindered the proper care of these aquatic pets. In this article, we will be addressing this myth and exploring goldfish memory and behaviors.
What is the Origin of the Goldfish Three-Second Memory Claim?
The goldfish three-second memory claim appears to have originated from a mistranslation of a statement made by psychologist Doreen Norton during the 1930s. In her research on fish behavior and learning, Norton stated that fish, including goldfish, were able to retain information for at least three seconds. However, this statement was later misinterpreted as meaning that goldfish had a memory span of only three seconds.
What Does Research Say About Goldfish Memory?
Contrary to the popular myth, goldfish have actually been found to have excellent memories. According to a study by Dr. Kevin Warburton from Australia’s Macquarie University, goldfish are capable of remembering events and learned behaviors for up to five months. This includes spatial memory, such as remembering the location of food, as well as associative learning, such as recognizing and responding to certain stimuli.
In addition, a study published in the journal “Animal Cognition” found that goldfish were able to distinguish between classical music and blues music after just a few listens. The study concluded that goldfish have the ability to recognize different genres of music and make associations between stimuli.
Goldfish Behaviors and Habitat
While goldfish are capable of remembering information and learning new behaviors, their behavior is also influenced by their environment. It is important for goldfish to have a proper habitat that meets their needs for oxygen, water quality, and space.
According to the website of pet supply retailer Petco, goldfish require at least a 20-gallon aquarium for one fish, with an additional 10 gallons per additional fish. They also need adequate filtration and aeration to ensure water quality and oxygenation. Feeding should be done in small amounts once or twice a day to prevent overfeeding and subsequent health problems.
Goldfish are also social creatures that thrive in environments with other goldfish. They exhibit social behaviors such as shoaling, where they form groups and swim together. A proper habitat for goldfish should take into account their social behaviors and provide adequate space for them to interact and swim together.
The goldfish three-second memory myth has long been misunderstood and perpetuated. However, it has been proven untrue through research on goldfish memory and learning. More importantly, proper care and habitat for goldfish should not be based on this myth but on their actual behaviors and needs. Goldfish are intelligent creatures that deserve the right environment and care to thrive in captivity.
– Petco. “Goldfish Care Sheet.” Petco.com, Petco, accessed 18 Mar. 2021.
– Warburton, Kevin. “Goldfish have a memory-span of at least five months.” The Conversation, 16 Jul. 2013, https://theconversation.com/goldfish-have-a-memory-span-of-at-least-five-months-16174.
– Bshary, Redouan, and Silvio Bshary. “Fish cognition: a primate’s eye view.” Animal Cognition, vol. 18, no.1, 2015, pp. 1-14.
– Salas, Carlos, and Ignacio Carrilo. “Goldfish.” Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, vol. 2, Academic Press, 2019, pp. 192-199.