Israeli researchers have taught goldfish how to operate a wheeled aquarium. In it, they can move aroundon dry land 

The experiment will aid in the study of animal navigation strategies.

Diagram of an aquarium on wheels: the camera and lidar collect data about the position of the fish, as well as the position of the vehicle in space. Raspberry Pi 3B + microcomputer drives a chassis with four electric motors Behavior Brain Research

Scientists from Ben-Gurion University conducted an unusual experiment called “Navigating the lighthouses.” They loaded goldfish into a wheeled aquarium and taught them how to operate a fish car (FOV). The research results are published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Biologists have noticed a number of similarities in the navigation of fish, birds and mammals. So, the red-tailed scallop distinguishes geometric shapes in the environment, and Picasso’s triggerfish is able to accurately estimate the distance to objects. Israeli scientists suggested that the tasks of navigating different living things are universal, and, therefore, can be performed by fish, regardless of the environment in which they are.

For the experiment, the researchers built a vehicle driven by aquarium fish. It is a platform on four omnidirectional wheels with the same number of electric motors. It has an aquarium with a built-in “onboard” Logitech webcam, a Slamtec lidar and a Raspberry Pi 3B + microcomputer .

The camera and lidar collect data on the position and movement of the fish in the aquarium, and the microcomputer processes this data and transmits signals to the running modules – as a result, the vehicle moves depending on the behavior of the fish. The researchers used bait to train six goldfish.


I am glad to present you a new research by Shahar Givon, Matan Samina and Ohad Ben Shahar: a goldfish can control a small robotic car. We have taught the goldfish to operate a platform on wheels that reacts to its [fish] movements

The fish was placed in a vehicle, which was placed in a well-lit aviary three by four meters. The “fishmobile” started from the middle of the enclosure to the pink target images hung on the walls, and the fish were fed every time they completed the task. At first, the “fish car” covered the test distance in 30 minutes, but after 20 attempts, the fish learned to reach the target in a minute.

When repeating the experiment with decoy targets of different colors, the fish still coped with the task accurately. So scientists found out that fish are susceptible not only to the shape of the target object, but also to its color.

The researchers also changed the starting point of the movement of the “fish car” and the location of the target: the fish first moved to the previous starting point, and then, without receiving a reward, to a new target. The experiment confirmed the hypothesis about the ability of goldfish to navigate in an alien environment.


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