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About three weeks are I placed 2 Siamese Algae Eaters to my tank. For three weeks they have not touched any algae and were just scavenging around the bottom. Today I introduced 3 ottos to the tank to take care of the algae because the SAE's weren't touching it. Well about two hours after watching the ottos eat algae the SAE's started to eat it and have been going at it non-stop since then. My guess is that since these guys are bred they are not familiar with algae (weird and crazy if you consider instinct and etiology). I think they were just emulating the Cory's in the tank and bottom feeding. Now since the otto's (captured instead of bred) showed them that algae is edible they learned a behavior. What does everyone else think? Am I being crazy? Would love hear people's thoughts and experiences with something like this.
 

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Cool Story.
I'm no fish biologist, but I think your conclusion about learned behavior is probably correct. I've seen similar things with our backyard chickens.
 

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yep, learned behavior. its no different then your fish associating you with food and begging shamelessly when you come up to the tank. ive had several fish that I trained to hand feed very easily. cichlids seem to be the smartest, but who knows for sure.
 

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I have a cardinal tetra who likes to creepily hover over my cherry shrimp. Initially I thought she was hunting down shrimplets, but I never saw her actually eat one and there were always tons of bite-sized babies grazing right out in the open.

One day I had squished a bunch of snails as a treat for the shrimp/kuhlis. The cardinal was hovering as usual, and then she suddenly darted down and snatched away a small snail from one of the shrimp. Never in her 2+ years of life has this fish ever shown an interest in snail, but if it was good enough for the shrimp she was determined to eat it. She hasn't started hunting down the pond snails, though. Turns out she watches the shrimp to find out where little morsels of food have fallen. She's also finally learned when to get excited about food because the new forktails have figured out the exact sequence of events that leads to a feeding.
 

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I have a cardinal tetra who likes to creepily hover over my cherry shrimp. Initially I thought she was hunting down shrimplets, but I never saw her actually eat one and there were always tons of bite-sized babies grazing right out in the open.

One day I had squished a bunch of snails as a treat for the shrimp/kuhlis. The cardinal was hovering as usual, and then she suddenly darted down and snatched away a small snail from one of the shrimp. Never in her 2+ years of life has this fish ever shown an interest in snail, but if it was good enough for the shrimp she was determined to eat it. She hasn't started hunting down the pond snails, though. Turns out she watches the shrimp to find out where little morsels of food have fallen. She's also finally learned when to get excited about food because the new forktails have figured out the exact sequence of events that leads to a feeding.
This is a really cute story. However, I thought snails tasted bad because the guppies I had didn't really like to eat them unless they didn't have a choice.
 
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