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We need a Fish Behavior category- Here is why

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by Jan Cavalieri, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    I have a very long post but it's more of an intellectual post than a problem or solution - just want to see what all your experiences have been.

    A little background, I have ABD (all but dissertation) in Physiological Psychology - it's about how the body (and things that impact it) also impact you psychologically) but even more about how you psychologically can change the physiology of your body. (think biofeedback in humans) But I was REALLY just interested in exploring animal behavior - not chopping their heads off when the experiment was done. That's why I don't have a PhD. There were already enough people just sitting around watching animals.

    Now I worked with rats, not people, but I was actually able to classically condition rat's protein levels and fat creation and release and tie it to the "environment" they were placed in. Too complicated to explain here but classical conditioning is a very simple kind of learning or "psychology" - and much if not nearly all of our fish's behavior is classically conditioned (ie., Stimulus-Response) kind of behavior. Or so most non-fish owners assume.

    Anyway - now in the "old" days people, especially scientists, believed that all animal's but humans just engaged in Stimulus-Response type of behavior. For example - you could train them to push a lever to get a pellet of food but there was no EMOTIONAL value connected to that food or the lever - just a stimulus and a response. Then I read a few books that changed my life.

    The best and most accessible to the lay person is "Do Elephants Weep: the emotional side of animals" and then there is an entire series by Stephan Jay Gould on evolutionary biology. Both authors basically believe that mankind wasn't and isn't the first creature to be plopped down on earth with emotions (as most scientists thought). This was something EVERY dog owner already knew but you couldn't get a zoo keeper to admit that an Elephant had feelings (even though they do weep in response to emotional events, including their own deaths as they are hunted).

    There is also a cute story on ALTRUISM in animals (also solely thought to be a human trait). There was an elephant that had a mouse that frequently visited his cage, Every day that elephant put aside a little bit of his grain in a corner of his cage for that little mouse to come eat. For the mouse it could be "stimulus-response" - but what about the behavior of the elephant?

    Then there was a story about Octopus (invertebrates yet) that were trained to pull a chain to turn on a light in their pool and then were rewarded with a piece of fish. They had to keep testing all the Octopus until all were trained but one Octopus (who had learned the task quickly) pulled the chain so hard he pulled the light in the tank - he destroyed the light, then began to squirt ink at all those who were observing him as he swam around his tank. How do most of us non-scientists interpret this?(after laughing) we would say the Octopus got BORED (an emotional state). I suspect these scientists just removed that particular subject from their subject pool as "incapable of learning the task".

    I'm currently nursing a very sick fish. She was terrified at first and fought but finally either gave up or became very tame - I've been handling her several times a day for 4 weeks. Personally I don't think I do many "nice" things to her but every day when she sees me she gets just a little excited and wags her tail fins for me. I have several very friendly fish that do that when they see me and, interestingly ALL the fish in the "tank of aggressive fish" do the tail wag when they see me. But about the only time I spend time with them is when I visit them and bring a tubiflex worm cube with me, soften it and let them all eat it - usually have one in each hand or there would be major fights but I actually started doing this to reduce the amount of fighting and so far it has worked nicely - they just always wag and get so excited when I pass their tank I just can't help that it's some sort of "Hello" greeting - just like my poor very sick fish it's at least a sign that they recognize me - I can't PROVE they are glad to see me, it just FEELS that way.

    Anyway I think we should have a category on the forum for "Aquatic Animal Behavior" where all of us can report anecdotes about things our fish and invertebrates have done and what we think they mean?

    Do your fish "wag" their tails at you? Do they raise their fins and try to look big when an aggressor approaches (my parrot does that with his wings) ? Do you have any other cute or interesting stories that made you think a little differently about how your fish thinks about YOU?
     
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  2. FishFinatic77

    FishFinatic77 Fish Crazy

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    This is a very interesting post. I agree that animals definitely have emotions, without a doubt. I have a chicken that loves to be petted and held, and when I don't spend time with her for a while, she becomes visibly depressed. Also, when I do a water change on either of my tanks, my fish are very obviously happy to have fresh water. (My betta always blows a big bubble nest after a water change :)). I think a section on animal behavior would be very interesting. We should definitely make one!
     
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  3. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    I suspect many people will have a lot of funny tales to tell. My Gold Dojo loaches (all 4 of them) line up to take turns leaping into the bubbler - they fly up to the top of the bubbles and leap off. Being basically very snake looking fish they are a beautiful site and it shows amazing self-organization ie., they take turns.

    My three cory's (unknown species but 3 different colors of brown and black stripes) sleep on top of each other. None of the others I've had have ever done this - it's so funny to see.

    Back to Dojo Loaches - they play HARD and sleep hard - I don't know how many times I've given them a poke to make sure they are all alive (they usually sleep in a messed up bundle of snake fish - I just count heads) - they are still hard to rouse from a deep sleep - of course once awake they are on the move again! Then after a couple of hours of running around they are back down for a long nap. GREAT fish.

    Tubiflex worms are like the delicacy of the fish world. When I got some I never had so many fish eating from my fingers with an occasional little nip to my finger. It was so fun to be so popular. Now most of them rarely want anything to do with them. (except the Dojo loaches of course) So I'll stop feeding them for a while. Of course I just bought a big bag of them. May try soaking them in garlic oil that I just bought. No idea if they are good for them, but I'm careful to get them good and wet before letting them feed so I don't have them swelling up in their bellies.
     
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