Fish Recognize Each Other, Study Says

January 24, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. distinguish / dɪˈstɪŋ gwɪʃ / (v.) – to see or recognize differences
Example: I can distinguish my dog from other dogs based on its spots.   

2. detect / dɪˈtɛkt / (v.) – to discover something
Example: Sharks can detect their prey using smell.  

3. uptight / ʌpˈtaɪt / (adj.) – angry or tense
Example: He was uptight over her offensive language. 

4. territory / ˈtɛr ɪˌtɔr i / (n.) – a place defended by animals from intruders
Example: My pet considers our house his territory.

5. conclusive / kənˈklu sɪv / (adj.) – able to settle a question
Example: Do you have any conclusive evidence that the animal is dead?


Read the text below.
A study conducted by a university in Osaka revealed that a certain type of fish has the ability to recognize familiar faces.

Masanori Koda and his team in Osaka City University conducted the study on daffodil cichlids [SIK-lids], a species of fish living in Africa’s Lake Tanganyika. Daffodil cichlids are yellowish fish that are known to live in large groups.

This is the latest of many studies showing that animals, such as chimpanzees and birds, can distinguish the facial features of other members of their species.  While researchers had already established that the fish could recognize each other using visual cues, they also tried to determine what specific visual cues the fish used.

To find out if facial features are what the fish detect in others, the team exposed eight fish to digital images showing four combinations of familiar and unfamiliar fish faces and body markings. The team found that, when shown a familiar face, regardless if its body was familiar or not, the fish seemed at ease for 10 seconds. However, when shown an unfamiliar face, the fish were uptight for 30 seconds, whether or not the body was familiar.

From these observations, it can be inferred that the cichlids use facial color patterns to tell individuals apart. This ability to recognize each other helps prevent unnecessary fights about territory. While the study is conclusive as to how cichlids recognize others, further research is needed to determine how quickly the fish can distinguish others.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can humans benefit from the knowledge that fish can recognize familiar faces?
·         How can learning more about animals be helpful to human life?

Discussion B

·         Name some traits or abilities that are unique to humans.
·         What human traits or abilities would you want animals to have?

January 24, 2016