Effect on Colour on Fish (part 3)

This topic submitted by Mindi, Annie, Vicky, Devon, Roy ( birchswinger_@hotmail.com ) on 12/12/98 .

(continued from part 2)
Class presentation schedule of events (Monday, October 26):

1) Lab introduction explaining purpose/problem, reasoning for project choice, goals to accomplish, relevance of the project, expectations of the class, and specific reference to our research questions. (This is projected to take 10-15 minutes.)

2) Class participation with optical color illusions and color survey…each group is given optical illusion sheets to test how the human mind reacts to the "tricks" color can play on the eye (projected time allotment is about 30 minutes).

3) Class participation in doing fish observation…our fish will be present in the classroom and students will first observe the fish without added color for 5 minutes (to serve as a control group for later comparison). Then the students will begin adding colored paper for intervals of 5 minutes (with a 2 minute rest period between each color so that the fish can adjust to the "normal," color-free environment between each switch) and will record the behaviors as they are displayed by the fish. The color application and rest periods will be timed with a stopwatch and the colors will go in the following orders: red, yellow, blue, orange, green, black, and white. (The projected time is approximately 52 minutes.)

4) Class discussion and comparison of data collected…not only will the class share and compare the data collected, but we will compare the data with that already collected by the teaching group. Possible reasoning behind the fish behaviors may be discussed. (This part is projected to consume remaining time left in class…about 15 minutes or so.)

The following is an example of how we entered our data into Supernova. Each group member entered hi/her data for each colour.

Trial Fish Species Paper Colour Quadrant Hemispheres Orientation Time (sec) Person
A goldfish red D Bottom Away 180 Devon
B goldfish red D Bottom Away 100 Devon
B goldfish red C Bottom Towards 45 Devon
B goldfish red B Bottom Away 10 Devon
B goldfish red A Bottom Towards 7 Devon
B goldfish red D Bottom Away 18 Devon
C goldfish red C Bottom Towards 36 Devon
C goldfish red B Bottom Towards 13 Devon
C goldfish red A Bottom Away 9 Devon
C goldfish red D Bottom Away 122 Devon
A malebeta yellow C Bottom Towards 180 Mindi
B malebeta yellow B Bottom Towards 180 Mindi
C malebeta yellow C Bottom Towards 73 Mindi
C malebeta yellow D Bottom Towards 107 Mindi

In following portions of the report we will incorporate our specific information that we calculated with the help of statview. But before, these are the results broken down into simpler, readable terms to help ourselves and others understand the lab. In the units of seconds used in this section, we have taken the mean times that the fish spent in a certain orientation (whether it be a certain quadrant or in certain hemisphere). And amounts are also given in approximations.

Goldfish: Male Betas:

Red-25 Red-72 Red-35 Red-50
Yellow-30 Yellow-72 Yellow-57 Yellow-42
Blue-28 Blue-2 Blue-52 Blue-33
Orange-40 Orange-23 Orange-55 Orange-30
Green-50 Green-7 Green-58 Green-38
Black-18 Black-52 Black-38 Black-76
White-10 White-73 White-65 White-70

These results here show the mean times spent either oriented towards or away from the colored paper; shown as column A being the times towards and columns B show the times the fish were oriented away from the paper.
Next for this category we evaluated and compared differences in orientation of the male betas by group members; Annie, Vicki, and Mindi.

Mindi Vicki Annie
75 mean sec. towards 30 mean sec. towards 80 mean sec. towards
55 mean sec. away 40 mean sec. away 79 mean sec, away
Male Betas: Goldfish:
Red-35 Red-49 Red-0 Red-52
Yellow-15 Yellow-90 Yellow-0 Yellow-29
Blue-36 Blue-67 Blue-5 Blue-30
Orange-30 Orange-67 Orange-0 Orange-33
Green-51 Green-85 Green-8 Green-30
Black-50 Black-84 Black-12 Black-42
White-58 White-87 White-0 White-53

These results show the mean time the fish spent in either the top or bottom hemisphere; whereas columns A the top hemisphere and columns B show the bottom hemisphere.

Goldfish Male Betas
A-35 A-47
B-30 B-55
C-36 C-62
D-45 D-50
These resullts show the approximate mean that the fish spent in each quadrant.

What follows are the graphs that come from the data we've compiled. The first is one comparing the orientation of the fish for each colour of paper, with time as the dependant variable. Using this graph we can get an idea of what order the colour preference for the fish is, by looking at the amount of time the fish spent turned towards or away from the coloured paper. From this graph is appears that they like green and orange the best, because they spent the most time turn towards than away, than they did for any of the other colours. There is a P-value for data compared is 0.1423. This means that because it is greater than 0.05 that the null hypothesis is accepted. Therefore the data is in fact statistically the similar, even though it doesn't really look it by the graph.
The second graph is of the paper colour and quadrant that the fish stayed in. I t is used in the same way as the first graph; the colour preference is observed by which quadrant they spent the most time in. We infer that if the fish spent more time in quadrants 1/A, and/or 2/B during a particular colour test, then they favor that colour. I t appears that white and black are the colours of choice for these fish. The null hypothesis that the data will be similar and the fish will spend an equal amount of time in each quadrant is rejected because the p-value is 0.03. This is less than 0.05 and therefore tells us that statistically the data is different and the fish did in fact spend differing amounts of time in each quadrant.
The next two graphs are of the analyzing the paper colour and orientation, however the data has been divided to examine each species separately, as opposed to lumping them both together. The first of the pair is for the male beta, and the second is for the goldfish data. The way these graphs were used is the same as before. By the P-value the null hypothesis for the beta data can be accepted, which tells us that the fish did spend equal amounts of time looking towards and away. The P-value for the goldfish data is .0078, so the null hypothesis is rejected. The goldfish spent different amounts turned toward and away from the coloured paper.
The final two graphs look at paper colour and quadrant, and are broken down by fish species. Like all the others these too were used to see which colour was preferred by what quadrants the beta and goldfish stayed in most. The beta data is statistically the same, and they spent equal amounts of time in all quadrants, because the null hypothesis accepted. We know this because the p-value of 0.0646 is greater then 0.05. The goldfish data is the same. It, too, is statistically the same, for identical reasons. The p-value is 0.0992, and therefore the null hypothesis is accepted.
By comparing the colour preference orders for each graph we came up with our final results for which colours the fish favor the most, least, and all that is in between.

(please note that the graphs have not been posted as of yet. we will hopefully have them up very soon. thank you.)

This lab project is only one part of the vast number of studies that could be investigated on the affects of colour on fish. Another research question that has come up as we've progressed is, how would a study such as this relate to a human behavioural study? Specifically, do fish and humans prefer the same colours? Can fish be used as a replacement for humans in human colour studies? Are fish a more reliable tool in determining innate colour reactions?
To determine whether or not fish prefer the same colours as humans, it is necessary to survey humans on their colour preferences and then compare those results to that of the fish's reactions to colours. Similarities between the two sets of resulting data may just prove that the two specimens are worthy of comparison and can indeed be used interchangeably in colour studies. For example, fish could be used to test which colours work best in hospitals, work environments, and schools for maximum comfort, work, and learning efficiency. By using these fish, the usage of humans (as specimens in the study) would be obsolete.
"Color in the life of a fish is far less significant than brightness, form, and motion" (Birren, 96). However that doesn't mean that colour doesn't affect them. In the research we've conducted, it was found in a study comparable to ours that fish prefer colour in the descending order of green, blue, yellow, orange, and red being the least favorite. Even though not all the colours we tested were studied in this experiment, the results that we found compare to this in the following way.
After analyzing the results, we found that in the testing of the betas, more overall time was spent looking away from the coloured paper than towards it. In looking at the paper, the betas look at yellow, blue, orange, and green more than they spent looking away, while they spent more time looking away from red, black, and white than towards. In the overall time spent looking towards, the betas preferred to look towards (in order according to the time spent doing so):
Specifically, Mindi and Annie's betas spent more time (overall) looking towards the paper, while Vicki's beta spent more overall time looking away from the paper.
In relation to the overall time spent in either hemisphere, the betas spent the most time overall on the bottom hemisphere with all colours. According to tabulated "mean' times (in relation to time spent in each quadrant), the most time was spent in C, then B, then D, then A.
In relation to the goldfish, more time was spent looking towards blue, orange, and green than the time spent looking away. In return, more time was spent looking away from red, yellow, black, and white than the time looking towards. According to the time spent looking towards the paper, the order of preference is:

Overall, the most time was spent on the bottom hemisphere in the presence of all colours and the most "mean" time was spent in quadrant D, then C, then A, and then B.
In combining the two fish's data, the color preference (judging by the time spent in the paper-covered quadrants A and B) is:

The reasoning behind using the time/quadrant/colour bar chart for ALL FISH instead of using the time/orientation/colour bar chart for ALL FISH (in the determination of the fish's overall preferences towards colour) is that the p-value from the latter chart's data comparison is greater than 0.05, meaning that the Null Hypothesis is accepted and there was no significant difference between the time spent towards or away from the coloured paper. So, this time/quadrant/colour bar chart was used because the data was significantly different. This p-value was less than the 0.05, so the Null Hypothesis was rejected, meaning that there was indeed a significant difference in the time spent in the quadrants.
An explanation for the ALL FISH results would be, that white is at the top, as the most preferred colour, because it is the brightest. We found in research we did that fish are attracted to brightness, and white it's the brightest light. We're not sure why yellow came up as being second, when based on this research it should be somewhere in the middle, like perhaps forth or fifth in the order. However, we believe black is third not because it is bright, but because it is not a colour, and the fish do not distinguish it as being either light or dark. We are, also, unsure as to why our results ended in green being the last on the preferred colour list, for the study in our research found that fish see green as the brightest in the spectrum. Perhaps there is error in our tests and this has caused the differences in our data? Blue somehow seems to fit. It is near the top of the list in both studies, and it is quite a bright hue. From then on the data seems to fit. Orange is next, after blue, in preference in both experiments and red follows that. With only the few slight differences, of yellow and green, in comparing the researched studies to ours, the rest of results appear to correspond to each other.


After analyzing the results, we found out that our initial hypothesis was indeed incorrect. We stated that we thought that the betas would prefer the colours in this order: 1)blue, 2)green, 3)white, 4)orange, 5)yellow, 6)red, 7)black, when in reality, our results proved that they preferred :1)white, 2)green, 3)yellow,4)orange, 5)blue, 6)black, and 7)red. Also, we hypothesized that the goldfish would prefer:1)orange, 2)white, 3) green, 4)blue, 5)red, 6)yellow, 7)black, when in actuality they preferred 1)green, 2)orange, 3)yellow, 4)blue, 5)red, 6)black, and 7)white.

Literature Cited
"All about Colour":

"Basic Color Theory":

Birren, Faber. Color Psychology and Color Therapy. Faber Birren: New
York, 1965.
Bradner, Joshua and Scott P. McRobert. Animal Behavior. V. 56, n3,
September 1998, pp 611-615. The Association for the Study of Animal Behavior: Academic Press, 1998. "The Influence of Bidy Coloration on Shoaling Preferences in Fish."
"Characteristics of Colors":
"Color Matters":
"Color Perception"
'Favorite Colors for Car Crooks":
Gale, Ann Van Nice. Children's Preferences for Colors, Color
Combinations and Color Arrangements. 1933. Pgs 54-57.
Luscher, Max, Dr. The Four-Colour Person. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977.
Morris, Gordon Sharpless. "The Effects Ball Color and Background Color
Have On the Catching Performance of Elementary School Children." (Michrofiche) 1977.
Portmann, Adolf. "Colour Sense and the Meaning of Colour." Color
Symbolism. 977. Pages 1 - 22.
"Vertebrate Vision, Signal Transudation Course":

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