Week 7/More Guppies/Connor Petty

Guppies are simple minded fish; they eat, mate, and that’s about it. While those things are the biggest things on their minds, it is the lesser things that I have observed that I find startling. In my fish tank I have about 15 or so guppies that I feed two or three times everyday. Every time I walk up to the tank to feed them all of the guppies would spontaneously rise to the surface before I even sprinkled their food in. This shows that guppies are smart enough to correlate the action of me approaching the tank to food appearing on the surface. One of the more curious behaviors that I have stumbled upon occurs when I go about catching the guppies in fishnets. For any guppy that has been caught and transferred between tanks the net it an enemy. And logically whenever they see the net they will dash to the other side of the tank in order to be as far away from it as possible. However, if a guppy has never been captured with the net, he will not run away from the net. This can be attributed to the fact that they have no reason to be afraid of the net because they have never seen it before. What I find striking is the fact that guppies that are born and raised alongside guppies that have been transferred before will also run away from the net! This could only be possible if the young guppies and the old guppies were communicating somehow. The only form of communication I have seen from these fish are through their mating rituals that involve the male guppy fanning out his tail in front of the female guppies. A funny thing about this ritual is that the male guppies will do it to any guppy that isn’t an overtly male guppy. This means that they will often do this mating ritual on immature male guppies since they look similar to mature females. It may not be the greatest display of their intelligence, but it certainly is funny. It’s not just the adults that I have noticed intelligent behavior from the newly born fry as well.  Less than a second after birth, a newborn fry will dash into the gravel to hide from the adult guppies that would most likely eat them. The very fact that they know that they should hide the instant they are born is quite remarkable considering their size. Newborn fry tend to be about 7mm long and have a brain no larger than 1 sq mm. They have such small brains yet the instant they are born they already know how to swim and hide; essentially they are born knowing how to survive. In my tank, it is often observed that the guppies will form groups and occupy layers based on size. The fry will tend to hang out next to plants at the bottom of the tank, the 2 weeks olds will cruise the bottom, and anything older than that will occupy the rest of the space. Whether these behaviors can be attributed to intelligence or instinct I don’t know, but hope to discover more about these puzzling behaviors in the future.

One Response to “Week 7/More Guppies/Connor Petty”

  1. admin says:

    check out literature on analogical reasoning in animals, if that’s what interests you. Well done. 9/10

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