Goldfish steers aquarium on wheels – “Finding Nemo” for real


How would a fish behave if it could move across land? Scientists from Israel investigated this question.

This is what the experiment with the goldfish looked like.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba

  • A research team from Israel has built an aquarium on wheels.

  • This allowed goldfish to move freely across the land.

  • It turned out that goldfish can easily navigate even in this unknown environment.

  • This could allow conclusions to be drawn about other animal species.

“Like a fish in water” is the saying when someone feels comfortable and easily adapts to the external circumstances. But how would a fish behave on land? At first glance, this question sounds absurd, but for researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel, this question is completely realistic. Because they did a study that tested just that.

To make this possible, the scientists developed an aquarium on wheels that moves due to the movements of the fish. The researchers then tested how six different goldfish navigated this vessel. They observed how long it took the fish to reach a specific, predetermined location, where it was rewarded with food for its achievement.

Surprising results

Surprisingly, it turned out that the fish moved naturally over land. “The results suggest that the goldfish are able to navigate a completely unknown terrain successfully”, concludes the co-author of the study, Ronen Segev. Because the fish could avoid dead ends as well as detours once they learned where the food source was.

From their findings, the scientists conclude that goldfish are not the only animals that can quickly get used to a terrain for which they are not actually intended in evolutionary terms. It is possible that mammals or birds could adapt quickly to an unknown environment, since these three species have a similar structure in the brain that is responsible for navigation.

On Monday, Segev shared a video on Twitter showing one of the goldfish successfully controlling the aquarium. The video immediately went viral – around 12,000 people have now liked the post. It is not the first time that scientists have trained animals to do something that is actually not in their nature. Last year, for example, a researcher trained a rat to play the video game “Doom II” – or at least to move around in the video game environment.

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