Fish remember for four or five months, not three seconds

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Israeli scientists have demonstrated that fish have memories lasting considerably longer than the fabled three seconds.

Boaz Zion, Ilan Karplus and Assaf Baraki of the Technion " Israel Institute of Technology presented the results of their research at the joint annual conference of the Israeli Society for Soil Sciences and the Israeli Society of Agricultural Engineers, which demonstrated that fishes have memories of up to four to five months.

The researchers are hoping to make use of this feature in an innovative method of culturing marine fishes in coastal areas.

The current method of raising fish in cages or enclosed pens is deemed undesirable by some because of the concomitant pollution and spread of pathogens to wild fishes associated with this method.

The proposed method trains the fish in captivity to aggregate towards a loudspeaker broadcasting acoustic signals in the water and to associate this signal with food.

This combination of the signal and feeding causes the fish to develop classical conditioned memory.

After a month of training in a closed facility, the fish are released into the open sea, with a periodic broadcasting of the signals being the means by which conditioned memory in the fishes are preserved.

When the fishes are of a marketable size, the signals call the fish to the collection station where they are harvested.

According to the authors, this method ...has many advantages. The fish grow in their natural environment without the use of cages and without environmental pollution.

Feeding is more economical and is based mainly on food found naturally in the living area of the fish.

Reports covering the conference did not state the species used in the study.