Scientists Debunk 3-Second Memory Myth,
Fish Can Remember for 5 Months

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Scientists Debunk 3-Second Memory Myth,
Fish Can Remember for 5 Months

By Jerry Stone on Care2.com

They found minnows to be at least as intelligent as rats.

Australian scientists have debunked the myth that fish have a three-second memory, they can actually recall information for up to five months.

"Fish can remember prey types for months. They can learn to avoid predators after being attacked once and they retain this memory for several months. And carp that have been caught by fishers avoid hooks for at least a year," lead author Kevin Warburton said.

The researchers at Charles Sturt University say that three-second rule is "absolute rubbish." No one is sure where they myth started but you needn't look any further than Finding Nemo to know it exists - not that I didn't love Ellen Degeneres' Dory.

Researchers trained young fish to associate a sound with feeding time. Each time they played that particular sound…the fish would return. They found minnows to be at least as intelligent as rats.

Fish not only remember, they can increase their food-catching skills and even carry out acts of deception. For example, cleaner fish in reef environments act on their best behavior when a larger feeder is nearby.

Warburton said: "What's fascinating is that they co-operate more with clients when they are being observed by other potential clients. This improves their 'image' and their chances of attracting clients."