So the take home lesson here is that if fish have a memory, they may learn to associate disturbance with danger. That possibly gives another reason why one can drop a baited hook near a visible school of fish and be ignored.
This is of course common sense, disturbed fish certainly do not bite and that surely suggests memories a lot better that three seconds.
I always had though that I was facing a battle of wits with fish once the river water cleared in the spring. Perhaps we now know why. This was really one of those idle questions that had never been deemed worth the trouble of answering along with the idea that earth worms do not feel pain which is also rubbish.
Fish can remember things for months: Scientists
According to the researchers at the
"Fish can remember prey types for months. They can learn to avoid predators after being attacked once and they retain this memory for several months. And carp that have been caught by fishers avoid hooks for at least a year," lead author Kevin Warburton said.
"That fish have only a three second memory is just rubbish but nobody knows where the three-second myth comes from," Warburton was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
Ashley Ward, a fish biologist at Sydney University, said: "It seems to come from an advert many years ago, but nobody is sure what it was for."
Fish can also learn to improve how to catch food, said Warburton, carry out acts of deception and modify their behaviour, for example, in reef environments cleaner fish who eat parasites off 'client' fish act on best behaviour when they spot a larger patron.
Warburton said: "What's fascinating is that they co-operate more with clients when they are being observed by other potential clients. This improves their 'image' and their chances of attracting clients".
The team came to this conclusion after studying the behaviour of Australian freshwater fish.