Giant wrasse trained to respond to gong


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A Giant humphead wrasse at The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is providing evidence that fish have a longer memory than many believe.

The wrasse, named Bentley, has been taught to obediently swim from his main display tank into a small enclosure, where he is fed, at the sound of a ~gong .

Bentley has learned and remembers that he will be rewarded with food when he swims into the holding pool, said Dr Phil Gee of the University of Plymouth. The longer he stays, the more he gets.

We're learning more about fish every day and they are not the cold, slimy, brainless creatures many people still believe them to be.

The length of Bentley s memory was put to the test when work on his display meant a forced break from his training routine.

Work on Bentley's tank meant we had a four month gap in his training, yet when it was resumed earlier this month he remembered exactly what to do, said Dr Gee.

It is hoped that this training, which the aquarium team hope to develop for sharks, could reduce stress on the fish should it be necessary to separate and handle them for treatment by eliminating the need to dive into the tank.

The next step is to encourage him to stay long enough for a thorough examination and then, if he needs treatment, to be the perfect patient, rolling on to his side for any medication to be administered, said keeper Carrie Shanks

The Giant humphead wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus, which comes from the reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is listed as ~endangered on the IUCN Red List.