Fish Memory: Can Fish Recognise their Relatives?

Fish Memory: Can Fish Recognise their Relatives?

In this blog we will be exploring a little-known fish fact that you may not be aware of. Today, we explore fish memory, specifically whether they can actually recognise their relatives, and whether fish have the capacity to learn.

cichlid fry

Can fish recognise their relatives?
The ability to recognise kin is extremely important as in many species. In one example guppies have been shown to avoid eating their own offspring, even though there are happy eating everyone else's. So yes, fish are capable of recognising members of their own species and kin, plus predators and other individual fish.

Parental Firemouth Cichilds can recognise their own kind remarkably, and will kidnap the fry of others and and put them on the edge of their own shoal of offspring so that they, and not their own young, are in harms way. This is whats known as a "cichlid shield".

Firemouth cichlid

What’s a cichild shield?
Certain cichlid species will create what is known as a "cichlid shield" is by adding unrelated fry to their own brood as a barrier to protect their own offspring, giving their own kin the best chance of survival. The kidnapped fry dilute the risk of attack to their step-siblings.


Can fish really learn?
Fish do have basic instincts, when it comes to feeding and survival, particularly in response to predators. A very basic type of learning that has been demonstrated by fish is the ability to make connections between appearances and events. A simple example is the way that aquarium fish associate the appearance of the fish owner with the arrival of their food.

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Photo credit(s): Canva Pro Licence

CichlidsColdwater fishKnowledgeTropical fish

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