3 Second Memory Of The Goldfish Myth

By Anthony K

Many people believe that goldfish only have a 3-second memory. However, the humble creature may have a longer memory than it is thought. If you have a goldfish, the chances are that it remembers you much longer than just three seconds.

There is no exact pointer to where the 3-second myth came from or why it’s broadly perpetuated. Perhaps, it was most probably intended to gratify people’s habit of keeping the fish in small bowls.

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In a simple experiment that a 15-year-old schoolboy conducted, the boy discredited the theory that goldfish can only recall for a few seconds. The boy fed his pet fish as he simultaneously put a red Lego piece in the experiment’s fishes’ tank. He would sprinkle the food around the Lego block. Initially, the fish was scared of the block. But after several weeks, the fish learned that the red block was a sign of food and swarm towards it. The boy then stopped using the Lego for a week after it seemed that the gold had learned the block’s meaning. He would later re-introduce the block, and still at its sight, the fish swam towards it, anticipating food.

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Another experiment was also done in which researchers trained young goldfish by playing a specific sound while feeding them. They then released the goldfish into the ocean. After six months, the researchers replayed the sound through a loudspeaker, and most of the goldfish returned to the area from which the sound was playing.

These two experiments proved that goldfish remembers for longer than the widely spread three-second myth.