Fish become pessimistic when forced to be with a partner they don’t like

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Cichlid fish species

A study has come to the conclusion that fish become pessimistic when they are forced to live with a partner that they do not like. For me, the news is interesting because every year humans catch and kill up to 2 trillion individual fish. I believe that humans do not know what they’re doing when it comes to fishing.

One example of the cichlid species of fish. Photo in public domain.

Humans treat fish like inanimate items that just happen to be under the water. Humans do not see fish as sentient beings with brains and as we can see from this research emotions at least to a certain degree. We don’t know to what extent fish feel emotions. More research is required but this study is the first to show that the outlook of fish can depend upon its partner.

In this study 18 female fish were allowed to be with a male partner that they had shown to like and 17 were forced to be with a male partner that they had previously spurned.

The scientists judged the female fishes’ moods. They did this by placing a black box in the tank which contained food and a white box which was empty. The fish were then presented with a grey box. Females who had mated with their preferred partner were enthusiastic about checking out the grey box while those who had been forced to live with an unsuited partner were more pessimistic and did not bother to try to open the grey box.

The argument is that if you are pessimistic you think that there is no point in checking because you have lost enthusiasm. Pessimism decreases enthusiasm why optimism increases it. That’s my interpretation of the link between pessimism and a failure to check the grey box. Let’s think of fish differently please. They are smarter than people think they are. One day we will understand this.

The research was carried out by Francois-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont (and team?) at the Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté. The species of fish was the cichlid, a small fish from South America.