In the present day the goldfish as a pet is just as much a part of our culture as it was in ancient times. Perhaps our culture is not as infatuated with the goldfish as it once was but examples still exist. One blatant difference in modern times compared to ancestral times is the attitude toward the goldfish. The falling of the goldfish from a pet hand fed by emperors to an animal regarded as worthless and dumb merits attention. This is an important moment in the history of the goldfish and humans because it represents a drastic shift of mind.
We all have heard of the memory of a goldfish lasting 3 seconds. No longer is the goldfish revered for its beauty or tranquility but rather it is mocked for something that isn’t even true. Modern culture mocks the goldfish with such movie titles like ‘Goldfish Memory’.
Dory, the blue fish in the popular film Finding Nemo is plagued by memory problems, further representing the public’s perception of fish intelligence. Many comics depict the myth thus proving its popularity in society.
Luckily, this myth has gained so much attention the the scientific community has started to address and debunk it.
The popular show Mythbusters conducted an experiment in which they were able to debunk the myth that goldfish only has a three second memory. In this video the Mythbusters describe the myth originating from the idea that goldfish are okay with fishing bowls because they easily forget their predicament. Interestingly enough this myth may come from human need to justify our treatment of animals . In this experiment it is proven that fish can be taught by comparing the time for ‘trained’ and ‘untrained’ goldfish to complete the same obstacle course. The trained goldfish were able to complete the course in 45 seconds while the untrained completed it in several minutes, thus proving that goldfish are more intellectually capable than popular myths perceive.
The next video shows a goldfish’s ability to pass throw hoops and even play soccer on command. Clearly such activities require more than a three second memory.
Scientific papers have even been published in regards to goldfish memory. In an experiment training of goldfish and release of certain chemicals by the fish had a relationship that showed memory formation ability (Agranoff, Davis 1966, 555-559).