"Smart" is a very human concept. Different species of fish have different types of intelligence, depending on their needs. Individual learning and problem solving ability are probably closest to what we consider traits of high intelligence. Puffers are great at that, and so are many kinds of cichlids with their complex social behaviors and parental care.
I have observed something very interesting about my cardinal tetras, which - let's face it -by human standards are about as smart as a hairbrush. My cardinals are not able to pick food from the bottom of the tank. They can see the food, but they don't know what to do. Platies, on the other hand, have no such problem. I observed on multiple occasions that when the cardinals watch the platies grab food from the bottom, they will do it too. But only as long as the stimulus is there. If on their own later, the behavior is not retained.
That makes sense, I think. In nature, schooling fish avoid any kind of behavior that makes them stand out from other members of the school because standing out attracts attention and usually means landing in the stomach of a predator. So creative problem solving isn't very high on the list of things that are considered smart by cardinal tetra standards. However, they are very, very good at observing and mimicking others. So when they see the platies grab food, it's probably easy for them to copy their behavior.
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