Group size and color: Implications on fish schooling behavior

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Group size and color: Implications on fish schooling behavior of promelas, innesi, sphenops and reticulata.


Fish use schooling as a coping mechanism for survival. The purpose of this study was to examine if fish preferred larger or smaller schools and if when the school sizes are the same size, will fish have a preference for the color red or blue. It was hypothesized that the fish would prefer large schools over small schools and the color blue over red. Both experiments were done inside of a tank and it was observed which side of a drawn line the fish was on at given times. The results of the first experiment showed a slight preference for small groups and were insignificant. The results of the second experiment were significant and showed a preference for blue over red. The hypothesis for fish having a preference for large groups over small groups was not supported by the results. The hypothesis for fish to prefer blue over red was supported by the results. The results of the first experiment could have happened because due to small group size, the fish were maybe choosing a school based on familiarity rather than size. The results for the second experiment could have occurred due to surface dwelling fish being sensitive to the colors blue and green and not the color red.

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Animals have evolutionary forms groups for better survival. The types of group can vary from a family with parents to unrelated individuals (Alexander 1974 1974). The main benefits of forming groups is that there less risks spreading diseases since animals are not reproducing with animals outside of the group. Animals also tend to use groups to protect themselves from predators and gain more food because groups split the food (Alexander 1974). Animals that utilize groups effectively are fish. Fish have been well known to know perform schooling behavior for survival. In a recent study, it was found that fish will exploit food resources more effectively and efficiently when hunting in schools (Reuter et al 2015). Fish also form groups because evolutionarily groups benefit members is that there is less competition for group members when breeding (Alexander 1974). Fish also form schools because a predators are less likely to hunt an entire school of fish versus a whole group of fish (Scott and Sloman 2004). A school of fish also make it more visually confusing for a predator to spot a single fish (Scott and Sloman 2004).

Fish have three motor patterns within groups. There can be a tendency for a fish to initiate the other direction of swimming of another fish (Hemmings 1966). Fish also have a tendency return to another fish if they are not following and there also is a tendency for fish to follow fish swimming away from them (Hemmings 1966).

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