Scientists Got a Goldfish to Drive on Land for Rewards, Again

Casting doubt over our assumptions about goldfish intelligence.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thisRonen Segev/ Twitter

Back in 2018, a study from the University of Toronto revealed that fish could indeed count. In 2020, another study found that fish actually domesticated tiny shrimp to help run their farms. Indeed, experts have often speculated that the species is much more advanced than commonly assumed and new research is proving just that.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel have released a study illustrating a fish’s ability to navigate by conducting an experiment where the animals essentially drive a specially designed “Fish Operated Vehicle” in order to get a reward, as reported by The Times of Israel.

The fish “were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target, regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,” said to the publication Shachar Givon and Matan Samina, authors of the research along with Ohad Ben Shahar and Ronen Segev.

What did the experiment consist of?

The “Fish Operated Vehicle” saw a tank attached to a wheeled apparatus which was further connected to a camera that could track the fish’s movements. A computer system was also set up that would move the vehicle according to which direction the fish went in. 

Once the fish were able to navigate to a target area, they were rewarded with food. The researchers found that the animals were able to reach the target area regardless of where they started out in the room.

Perhaps more impressive was the fact that their speed for reaching the target area improved with each test run going from 30 minutes to under a minute. This is not the first study to demonstrate the ability of fish to navigate their environments.

A similar study took place in 2014. However, it is the first of its kind to have the fish do it on dry land.

The research and its findings were published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

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