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Fish can recognize human faces, new study shows

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posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 02:32 PM
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And you thought Goldie was just a dumb ol' fish!

It turns out that science has finally proven what aquarium hobbyists have pretty much known for a quite a while. Your favorite pet fish does know it's you outside their tank.


A species of tropical fish has been shown to be able to distinguish between human faces. It is the first time fish have demonstrated this ability.


I am a bit surprised that this has been unknown to science given that everyone in my house knew that I was the designated "food shape" as far as my fish were concerned. They would react differently when I approached the tank than when my husband would. They had to be recognizing the difference between the two of us somehow and had connected that I was the one who was the feeder whereas my husband was something to be potentially feared like any other large shape moving through the water.


Dr Newport said: 'Fish have a simpler brain than humans and entirely lack the section of the brain that humans use for recognizing faces. Despite this, many fish demonstrate impressive visual behaviours and therefore make the perfect subjects to test whether simple brains can complete complicated tasks.
'Archerfish are a species of tropical freshwater fish that spit a jet of water from their mouth to knock down insects in branches above the water. We positioned a computer monitor that showed images of human faces above the aquariums and trained them to spit at a particular face. Once the fish had learned to recognize a face, we then showed them the same face, as well as a series of new ones.
'In all cases, the fish continued to spit at the face they had been trained to recognize, proving that they were capable of telling the two apart. Even when we did this with faces that were potentially more difficult because they were in black and white and the head shape was standardized, the fish were still capable of finding the face they were trained to recognize.
'The fact that archerfish can learn this task suggests that complicated brains are not necessarily needed to recognize human faces. Humans may have special facial recognition brain structures so that they can process a large number of faces very quickly or under a wide range of viewing conditions.'


So consider this the next time you think about your fish as just a throwaway item. They deserve their own degree of care and attention. Sure you may not be able to cuddle them but they do know who you are when you drop in their food each day.




posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 02:48 PM
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Excuse me while I asphyxiate myself laughing at this garbage...



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 02:52 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Good post. I always knew my goldfish Colour recognized me. He would swim to the side of the bowl when I approached and said his name.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 04:39 PM
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My opinion differs. I used to keep fish. Lots of 'em.

They know you by your footfalls. My brother-in-law and I tested this with masks and hoods. It was a damned cool experiment.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 04:41 PM
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originally posted by: Snarl
My opinion differs. I used to keep fish. Lots of 'em.

They know you by your footfalls. My brother-in-law and I tested this with masks and hoods. It was a damned cool experiment.


I know my more intelligent fish recognized the two of us. The tetras ... eh, not as much, but the cichlids and the ones like them definitely knew.

I can believe archerfish to be capable because of how they hunt. They would have to have good visual acuity and recognition in order to shoot bugs off of leaves and get the right ones.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 05:02 PM
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a reply to: Snarl

That is what I deduced as I approached from the back of the tank to feed them they were already zipping about so somehow they must have picked up on my foot patterns on the floorboards then vibrating through the tank as my wife would not set them off like that.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 05:13 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

I had a green terror, oscars, piranha, an African Knife and some big plecostomus(es?) for many years. The terror and the oscars definitely knew me. If I walked near the tank they'd swim closer to where I was coming from. If they saw my hands move toward the tank they would rise.

When my b-in-law first came to visit, he poked one of my oscars with a chop stick. They never trusted him. Anytime he was in the room they would swim low in the tank. So we tried the thing with the masks. The fish were never fooled by him and as long as I walked with my normal gait they would always come to greet me ... unless he was near.

We caught some bream in a lake and added them to a tank. They never got tame.

Interesting, no?



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 05:27 PM
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a reply to: Snarl

I was mainly into Tanganyikans. My two favorites were a mated pair of Julidochromis marlieri I flew back from Chicago. I had them for over 8 years. They would hang out in and around the rocks, but would come poking their heads out and swim halfway up the water column when I'd come up to the tank.

If I raised my hands up to the top ... then they'd get even more excited.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 06:04 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Nice. I had to Google them to see what they looked like. Were the Tanganyikans aggressive?



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 07:02 PM
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a reply to: Snarl

Like anything, it depended on the species. Those two could be snippy defending their breeding turf, but not overly bad. Most Tangs are less aggro than Malawi, but there are a few species that need to be species only or have extremely large tanks to minimize their aggression in a community. But usually with a little research, you could put together a nice community of two to three species that wouldn't kill each other and have decent balance.

Brichardi could be that way mainly because they're colony spawners and the whole colony - parents + older spawns will work to take over space and protect the youngest. So could Neolamprologus tretocephalus.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 08:32 PM
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Yup. Those that keep aquariums find this early. I even had a redtail once that I could hand feed.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 09:13 PM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
with a little research, you could put together a nice community

Introducing the African Knife to a stable tank was a mistake. It was the smallest fish, and because of that I didn't heed the warning that it was aggressive. It got one of my green terrors when I wasn't in the room.

Other than that one incident, I had some very happy tanks. And the African Knife spent the rest of his time with me in the seclusion of the feeder fish tank.

I figure I'll setup a few aquariums again when we finally retire. I kind'a liked the pace of 'em.



posted on Jun, 7 2016 @ 09:37 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Sounds about right, from what I recall of the fish we had when i was a kid. They knew who fed them! Can't keep them myself, with a really clever cat. Wouldn't be fair to the fish!!



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 03:50 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

wow fish can recognize faces no way! so when you catch them and filet them what exactly happens? nothing fish taste great



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 06:26 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

I miss the fresh water aquarium of my youth.

I noticed that, too. They tended to crowd to the corner where I fed them, when they saw me, and ignored other people.

What are your 3-5 favorite fish varieties?

I liked Cardinal Tetras, Dwarf Gourmies, Pearl Gourmies, 3 spot Gourmies, Discus (though could never afford them), albino angel fish, & clown loaches as well as half-banded loaches.

One time I had "mystery snails" hatch a few broods. And one of them "sailed" from a tall-ish rock down to the bottom of the tank about 6" or so gliding through the water at about a 30 degree angle. Was cool.



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 06:31 AM
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a reply to: Iamnotadoctor

What a cheery, edifying and informed comment to add to the discussion.

What gallon size was your aquarium?

How many years did you keep fish?



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 06:38 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Years ago I used to work for a fish importers and one of the fish, a huge stingray was too big to be sold up ended up as the company pet.

When a certain member of staff was off he would never eat his food and would go days without eating. Once she was ill and had to come in just to feed him and then go home again.

On a side note we had a load of sturgeon that I swore did not like me as they became agressisve but only when I walked past.

One day I went to feed them and one of them jumped out of the water and headbutted me right in the eye and gave me a shiner!



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 07:01 AM
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a reply to: BO XIAN

I like to see the full range of fish behavior from feeding to courting and spawning. So I am partial to cichlid species that are in the medium to small range mainly because they display such a fantastic range of those behaviors and good parental care.

I spent a lot of years with the Tanganyikans, but I also really like the South American dwarfs, the Apistogramma species and the Rams and the like, and the African dwarfs like the Kribensis and the Butterfly and similar.

I also like those dwarf species because you can put them in a community setting and have some of the regular tropicals around them. Then I can enjoy the gouramis and the schooling fish and others. They also have some interesting behaviors.



posted on Jun, 8 2016 @ 11:52 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

They sound like fun, alright.

But don't they destroy real plants?

I always liked real plants.




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