In a few weeks, I will be conducting an experiment using fish in one of my science classes. Fish will be placed in a maze similar to the one in this video (
) from Princeton University. They will be previously trained to food at the end of the maze except the barriers will not be in place yet. We are recording behaviors such as backtracking, splitting of the group (schooling fish only), and tracking lead fish. Fish will be individually identified using waterproof markers (better ideas?). Maze attempts will be timed. Should the fish clearly improve at completing the original maze, the maze will be rearranged. I am interested to see if they are only capable of remembering the same maze or if they improve their ability to learn new mazes also(Problem-solving). The experiment is to take place over 12 weeks.
Fish - We are looking for an easily cared for, hardy schooling fish. White cloud minnows, neon tetras, and harlequin rasboras are the best options locally however from what I understand some of them are shoaling not schooling. So far we are in favor of harlequin rasboras. Any suggestions? Also considering comparing the schooling/shoaling fish to individual "smarter" fish such as a goldfish or cichlid (can borrow either). Worth a try?
Tank - They will not be housed in the maze. Tank water will be siphoned into the maze and fish transferred for each experiment to avoid the need to acclimate. If we do not or can not keep the fish after, it has been arranged that they can be taken back. We have several 10s, a 20, and a 55 gallon available. Tank/s will be cycled before the experiment.
Testing - The more trials we do within the 12 week period the more data to look at. My concern is that the fish will become stressed when moved from the tank to maze and vice versa. Is there a less stressful way then netting them? Can they tolerate being put in the maze once a week? More frequently would be better but I do not want any to die of stress.
Thanks for making it to the end! I am open to any suggestions, let me know what you think. The procedure has not been finalized yet.