German professor proves – fish can count

No one would have expected this news: Pisces are smarter than expected and should even be able to calculate correctly! But even if Mat(he)jes, Aalgebra and Heckecke sound more like an April Fool’s joke, we really don’t want to tell you a perch!

Bonn – The German professor Dr. Vera key from Institute for Zoology in Bonn has been conducting studies with animals to distinguish quantities for years. Now the researcher looked at fish and mathematics. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that cichlids and stingrays can not only recognize numbers, but also add and subtract them.

Bright (fish) heads: In addition to stingrays, cichlids can also solve simple arithmetic problemsPhoto: picture alliance /

But how fresh is the fish in your head?

The study states that cichlids and stingrays are able to detect small numbers accurately, apparently even so routinely that they can even be trained to distinguish groups of three from groups of four.

But the team around Prof. Dr. Vera Schlüssel now goes a step further, proving that both types can even count. “We taught the animals to do simple additions and subtractions,” explains Schlüssel. “They had to increase or decrease an initial value by one.”

However, there is a catch: the fish can “only” solve very simple arithmetic problems. So nothing with point calculation before fish calculation. Using colored shapes under which treats were hidden, the experts managed to get the fish to calculate.

Apparently, the sea creatures are able to count to five. In nature, according to Professor Schluessel, it could help to distinguish between other fish species. “They could distinguish fish species by counting stripes and dots,” the scholar said.


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