How Attached Are They To Us?

Yehoshua

New Member
Messages
38
Reaction score
5
Points
8
Experience
More than 10 years
Heiditron3000 said:
I’ve been thinking tonight (and maybe drinking)— do bettas (and all fish in general) associate us with more than food? Reason for this line of thought being I’ve done everything food related around them with my hands, so they would associate my fingers with food. But when I put my fingers up to the tank, it's nothing special. They maybe flare at it.

But when I put my face up to the glass, they swim right up to it and follow it if I move around.

If they make the connection that our fingers and faces are part of the same animal, then bettas are geniuses.
No, they are not attached to their owners. If a fish is healthy, he is always hungry. In fact, in the wild they might eat more than twice a day. So he is merely conditioned to associate you with feeding.
 

RHONDA PIMENTEL

Valued Member
Messages
299
Reaction score
179
Points
53
Experience
More than 10 years
This is just a funny note on all this. Reading all the wonderful stories, all I can think of is the scene in the movie finding nemo with the seagulls "mine mine, mine mine...." anything that moves or seems food related well...mine! Lol.
 

Katrina C

Valued Member
Messages
54
Reaction score
28
Points
43
Experience
More than 10 years
Hi everyone!

I am positive Bettas know us.

My current, Fishie, loves me, but...
NOT my partner. Nothing has ever happened between the two. Ever. Ben has looked at him a few times and Fishie immediately rushes into his floating log. When I walk into the room, things are very different. All I have to do is walk by the tank, not even look at it, and Fishie is out and showing off. Including his jumps when HE really wants attention. Which always works. He will jump like a Bass catching Dragonflies! So, I will go over, sit on my little stool and give him some time. Usually about 2-3 minutes with his floating mirror, swimming through rings that I hold in the water, messing around with oddly placed air stones, to name a few. It depends. I make stuff and he either likes it or not.

They know us. They know our tankmates.
My cat, Kitty (yes, I keep it simple), likes to drink some tank water every day. We call it "Sips". He has no interest in the Betta. Anyway, Fishie loves this time, and dances around Kitty's face. [He] can can be on the other side of the 10 gallon tank and the moment he sees the cat approach, ZOOM! He is there to take his place for fun with cat tongue.

In conclusion, every Betta I have owned has been an extremely alert being and has known me. As well as my voice. Sound is a vibration after all.
I believe that first off, if you can get it as a pet, of course it is a sentient being. But, all of the World's animals, birds, fish etc are sentient beings. It is the human species that has the trait of feeling special and omnipotent. That is why we see articles like, "Who Knew? Crows are Smart!". Hahahaha

GREAT THREAD!!!
 

scarface

Fishlore VIP
Messages
6,913
Reaction score
7,362
Points
598
Experience
Just started
They may recognize us, remember us, but they have zero emotional attachment towards us, and that's perfectly fine by me. What matters is our responsibility in caring for them. That doesn't change.
 

Magicpenny75

Well Known Member
Messages
1,217
Reaction score
1,818
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
Yehoshua said:
No, they are not attached to their owners. If a fish is healthy, he is always hungry. In fact, in the wild they might eat more than twice a day. So he is merely conditioned to associate you with feeding.
RHONDA PIMENTEL said:
This is just a funny note on all this. Reading all the wonderful stories, all I can think of is the scene in the movie finding nemo with the seagulls "mine mine, mine mine...." anything that moves or seems food related well...mine! Lol.
Sorry but I have to agree with these. Yes, they know us - they know we bring the foods, but I think we tend to do a little too much anthropomorphizing. I think fish can make a positive association with our presence, but emotion may be a bit of a stretch.
 

tiffani

Valued Member
Messages
175
Reaction score
98
Points
38
Experience
More than 10 years
86 ssinit said:
Well I was sitting in a chair to the right of my tank and looked up and saw this. Got up to film and I my have embarrassed a few . I did get the urge to feed them. You don’t think.....nahhh.
OMG ! My discus do the exact same thing, stare me down for hours if necessary, lol. I have angels & discus & only the discus do that sit in front staring thing. The angels go about their business in the tank. I think it’s so cute. Their wanting food or just looking at me like I look at them. I definitely believe they are smart little fish- all of them, angels, betas, discus, etc.
 

Katrina C

Valued Member
Messages
54
Reaction score
28
Points
43
Experience
More than 10 years
Girlygreen said:
So there are things that blow a hole in my theories about this but there are two interesting points about fish that I’m thinking about.

It’s awesome that most fish have the capacity to learn and remember. It makes sense for survival. If they equate you with food and food equals survival and they need food, and the way that we feed them makes them appear social. Because wandering up to big things in the wild with big eyes may not end well.

But a lot of the fish we keep have been bred in captivitity for thousands of generations at this point, maybe we bred a more “friendly” fish. Also when there is more competition for resources and a higher density it behooves them to swarm so they can get food.

Now the hole: my two friendliest fish are a Sarasa comet who flops around like a puppy and splashes to get my attention if he knows I’m around. I can be in the room adjacent and watch him not notice me and then see me his swimming pattern completely changes. But goldfish are chow-hounds so it’s in their nature to want to eat all the time.

The other fish is a wild betta, who will often follow me around the room, and then retire to his subwassertang hammock and watch me for a very long time. I spend a lot of time in the room with the betta and most of that is not feeding him, so I don’t know.
How did you get a WILD Betta?
 

OptiKen

New Member
Messages
2
Reaction score
7
Points
3
Heiditron3000 said:
I’d LOVE to see studies on all of this!

I could swear that they know their names. I have two in a divided tank, Tom Petty and Warren Zevon. When I call Tom, he zips to the front of the tank. Then I call Warren, and he zips to the front.

And then I call my newest betta, Harry Dean Stanton in a tank at the far end of the room. And suddenly out of his cave he swims.

It’s sort of weird actually.
Hmmm....I'll have what she's having.
 

whux

New Member
Messages
30
Reaction score
23
Points
8
Experience
3 years
I also wonder this, but I've just assumed that they associate us with food. Whenever I look into the tank, observing, checking temp, etc...they generally swim to my face and/or towards the surface as if they are expecting me to throw in something to eat. But it is impressive, that they are able to make that association, even if it is just for food. Fish generally have the reputation for not being all too intelligent, perhaps because they look silly or because they're so small, but that's obviously not true.

In any case, I do wonder what they see and think when they are swimming around and can see me sitting on my couch or when I come by and they suddenly have a strange looking thing staring back at them. I'm not sure they're necessarily in the capacity to think "I must be in a tank," but they probably know something is different, but then again, if they're born into captivity and don't know anything else, maybe they just think that's what life is?
 

badrad

Well Known Member
Messages
652
Reaction score
25
Points
123
Experience
5 to 10 years
In my experience, it depends on the species. The majority of my fish do not interact with me other than they are excited as I walk near the tank in anticipation of food. I have had 4 blood parrots of varying ages and they are the only fish in my various tanks that will want to actually play with me as I do maintenance or as I walk by. My oldest that sadly passed away a couple years ago actually would look at me through a reflection in a mirror behind an ornament whenever I enter the fish room after turning on the room light. As I walked past the mirror and into direct line of sight he would have swam past the ornament to face me as I walked to the tank.
Only 3 of the 4 blood parrots enjoyed playing with my hand when I did water changes or vacuuming. They acted like little puppies that just liked to swim and rub their sides against my hand, and loved it when I pet them. My oldest would actually let me cup my hand and gradually raise him near the top of the water.
But the fourth one is a total recluse. He seemed to be petrified of me, and whenever I walked into the room he would dart into his little corner of his tank. When I do the feeding in his tank, he will not approach the food until I leave his sight line.
 

ystrout

Well Known Member
Messages
1,435
Reaction score
840
Points
148
Experience
4 years
Yes fish love affection and form relationships with people, just like any other animal does. Specifically non schooling fish. And the bigger the fish is and higher it is on the food chain, the smarter and more affectionate it will be. I've noticed this through years keeping fish as pets and scuba diving with them.

Check out a couple of these pics of my fiancé and I interacting with some of our favorite resident fish here in San Diego. These are of two different trips with two different fish.

The only time food is involved here is after 45 minutes hanging with the fish when the sheephead brought Elli a snail so she could crack it open for her to get to the meat. Which is also bizarre... That's been the only time I've ever seen a fish ask a favor....
 

Attachments

Brittany Rismiller

Valued Member
Messages
111
Reaction score
45
Points
63
Experience
3 years
I have a blue opaline gourami that most definitely watches me the instant I walk up to the tank. She literally keeps an eye on me when I look into the tank and if I happen to step up when she's out she'll freak out and fly to the back of the tank. I'm an animal lover and have never intentionally scared her and I have a bunch of other fish that just swim about no problem, ever. The only thing I can think of is that maybe her eyesight is weird. It's the most bizzare thing I've come across with my tank.
1567097419982.jpg


The other photo flipped
20190829_125013.jpg
 

boxtop

Valued Member
Messages
89
Reaction score
4
Points
43
Experience
Just started
My betta acts the same way whenever ANYONE comes up to the glass. I think its all about food.

To him, someone at the glass means food might be coming.
 

Orion1066

Valued Member
Messages
136
Reaction score
63
Points
48
Experience
5 to 10 years
Heiditron3000 said:
I’ve been thinking tonight (and maybe drinking)— do bettas (and all fish in general) associate us with more than food? Reason for this line of thought being I’ve done everything food related around them with my hands, so they would associate my fingers with food. But when I put my fingers up to the tank, it's nothing special. They maybe flare at it.

But when I put my face up to the glass, they swim right up to it and follow it if I move around.

If they make the connection that our fingers and faces are part of the same animal, then bettas are geniuses.
I may be a bit late to this party, but I do wish to follow this thread. Many interesting points have been made and I do wish to add ny ow observations. Regrettable not now ... but shortly.

Heiditron3000 said:
I’ve been thinking tonight (and maybe drinking)— do bettas (and all fish in general) associate us with more than food? Reason for this line of thought being I’ve done everything food related around them with my hands, so they would associate my fingers with food. But when I put my fingers up to the tank, it's nothing special. They maybe flare at it.

But when I put my face up to the glass, they swim right up to it and follow it if I move around.

If they make the connection that our fingers and faces are part of the same animal, then bettas are geniuses.

I do believe that Perry, is aware of his surroundings, and the people, around him, specifically. Feeding or not, while Bettas do often live solitary lives, they do enjoy company. He is always showing up where ever I may be, on specific sides of the tank. BTW, I enjoy a good drink, now and that, and I always take note of specific recommendations .... ?
 

ystrout

Well Known Member
Messages
1,435
Reaction score
840
Points
148
Experience
4 years
Magicpenny75 said:
Sorry but I have to agree with these. Yes, they know us - they know we bring the foods, but I think we tend to do a little too much anthropomorphizing. I think fish can make a positive association with our presence, but emotion may be a bit of a stretch.
I'm going to disagree with this one. I always wondered if my pet fish interacting with me was food driven or an emotional action. After getting into scuba diving, I have no doubt fish are smart, interactive creatures.

I think my shoaling/schooling fish only react to me for food. But I no longer believe my gourami, puffers, and betta think that way.

Here are some of my scuba stories that changed the way I looked at things. Again, these are with non-schooling fish as I've noticed schooling and shoaling fish are all in their own world and don't care for people. No food is involved in any of these dives and we were not at a location where people feed them. If anything, they'd worry about fishing....

1. I was floating making eye contact with a calico bass on a shallow dive (15 feet deep). We were just kind of looking at each other for a few minutes. Another came up and started interacting with me too. We kept hanging out with them and interacting with them. In about 15 minutes, we had about 30 calico bass staring at us and all interacting with us. We thought is was the most bizarre thing. After we started swimming along, they followed us! Every single one of them. They were interested in us and wanted to keep playing. They swam with us the entire dive and we probably covered a quarter mile. If we had unlimited air, they would have stayed with us for hours.

We even surfaced a few times in awe of what was going on and to catch our bearings. It's disorienting on those shallow, cover tons of ground dives. They waited right under us, and resumed following us once we dropped back down.

This has actually happened to me twice at this location.

2. I posted pics of this in my previous comment. It's of me (blue mask). I was watching a fish who noticed I was watching it. It got curious and we started interacting. It looked at me and kept swimming back and forth around me. Eventually, it got comfortable enough that I could touch it. It enjoyed this, and kept positioning itself for me to pet and was swimming through my hands when I help my hand up like a "U". This fish followed us until the end of the dive.

3. Probably the most endearing example. It's the pics in my previous comment of my fiancé who is wearing the black mask. She was testing out our new camera on pieces of kelp.... I got bored and swam off, which is safe because we were only in 10 feet of water. Similar thing happened to the last scenario. I interacted with it for a few minutes and got it to follow me. My fiancé always jokes about how every time we get split up while diving, I come back with a sheephead companion. But we interacted with it for a while and tested the new camera on her. After playing for a bit, we swam past a snail which she picked up. She dropped it right in front of my fiancé. Apparently it wanted her to open it. So she cracked it open and the fish ate the meat. We kept playing with this fish.

We came back the next day, found her again, and hung out with it the entire dive. We called her "Freckles" as she has a bunch of little spots on her snout. So whenever we dive here, we try to find her.

But these are all examples of these fish playing with us. Playing is completely unnecessary for survival and they only do it for enjoyment. They obviously can't communicate with us in the same way we can with other people, or even dogs. But they absolutely communicate, interact, and form relationships with us. So if these solitary ocean fish are so interactive and playful, why would our solitary aquarium fish be any different?
 

Demeter

Fishlore VIP
Messages
6,080
Reaction score
3,922
Points
448
Experience
5 to 10 years
Bettas only see me as a hand, my African cichlids seem far more aware of what's going on around the tank. They are weary of strangers and often hide when someone who doesn't look like me comes up to the tank (keep in mind the bottom of this tank is about short person eye-level) and they freak out if I'm by them while wearing a hat. They nibble my hand/arm and even let me catch them easily by hand w/o panicking. As far as food goes, soon as they see me grab the container and spoon they're splashing at the surface.
 

BlackOsprey

Well Known Member
Messages
809
Reaction score
404
Points
98
I've only had experience with smaller species and overall, they just seem to associate us with food. I seriously doubt most of them will be "attached" to a specific individual. My betta Peachy dances and thrashes around for my friend as much as he does for me. Puffers will watch you and its surroundings outside the tank, but I figure that's mostly due to their nature as hunters. They're just keeping an eyes out for another meal.

That's not to say it's not endearing, though. One of my favorite things about our axolotl is that she will "follow" people and sit in the area in the tank closest to them, watching. It's certainly behavior that can be explained via classical conditioning, but having a critter acknowledge and seemingly welcome your presence is delightful regardless.
 

Carolyn Johnson

Valued Member
Messages
129
Reaction score
55
Points
48
Experience
3 years
pagoda said:
My Cory family can be funny, they'll be doing their usual thing...scurrying around or getting romantic....as soon as I glance at them, even a sideways glance, they stop dead and freeze til I stop watching them, then they go back to what they were doing

Watching fish is far more fascinating & fun than what is on the TV they can keep you entertained for hours with their zany antics
I find watching my fish is far more entertaining than watching TV. At least they are funny and sometimes romantic, rather than all the bad stuff on TV.
 

Tony_P

Valued Member
Messages
105
Reaction score
136
Points
88
I think that this actually shows that the wonderful synergy between humans and animals. We care for them and feed them and keep them safe. Just by being as they are, they provide us with pleasure and happiness. and because of that we want to give them a good life. Its a wonderful circle of life.

So -- I don't care if we anthropomorphise our pets, be they dogs, cats, or fish. If its leads to providing them with a more humane and happy life -- no problem.

Tony
 

nikm128

Fishlore VIP
Messages
7,238
Reaction score
3,567
Points
448
Experience
5 years
Here's something interesting for you all to chew on a bit, my discus watch me all the time and follow me around the tank whether they're hungry or not. The interesting part is, they will eat out of my hand and come investigate if I stick my finger in the water, but if I touch the glass they run from the finger. Even if when I just move it around, if it they see it come to where they are they move away.
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom