Effects of Colour on Fish (part 2)

This topic submitted by Annie, Mindi, Devon, Roy, Vicky on 12/12/98 .

(continued from part 1)
In his study second, fourth, and sixth graders were tested with baseball-sized balls (blue, Yellow, and white) to see how their catching abilities were affected. Black and white backgrounds were also present. Results were as follows: blue and yellow balls had higher catching scores that white; blue balls against a white background produced the highest catch score; white balls against a white background produced a low catch score; males preferred blue balls; females preferred yellow balls; and both males and females preferred the black background to the white one.
Surprisingly insects and animals are attracted and affected by the same colors as humans. Certain insects are attracted to blue just like us. This was proven in Adolph Portmann's "Colour Sense and the Meaning of Colour" in the book Colour Symbolism. In his first excerpt, color was studied in relation to bee-fly behavior. According to research by Spengel, color contrasts in flowers "serve as signposts in their (insects') quest for nectar." Blue-green is seen as a distinctive, attractive color to bees, and according to a 1920 study done by F. Knolls, bees are able to see ultraviolet and because flowers emit ultraviolet, bees are attracted.
"Color vision itself is a potent aid to visual acuity in its broad sense, and was certainly evolved for this application rather than for the aesthetic ones which it has come to have in human vision" (Gordon Lynn Wall). Color vision to a lower animal actually has nothing to do with sensuous delight. They have been endowed with the sense of color in order to equip them for the practical battle of life. Even though color in the life of a fish is far less significant than brightness, form, and motion, no fish is known not to have color vision.
Scientific work on the color vision of fishes is quite plentiful. It has been determined that green is seen as the lightest color and is the most restful on the eyes, then blue, yellow, orange, with red the darkest color of all. As a matter of fact, this list is the same for humans also. According to studies done, fish generally seem either to shun red, or to prefer it decidedly. This may be due in part to the fact that red radiation is quickly absorbed as it passes through water and that red, therefore, is not a common experience to the fish. It either scares them or intrigues them, as no fish think exactly the same, just like humans. Experiments have shown that the respiration rate in fishes increases with in increased in brightness. When ruby glass was placed across an artificial light source, the respiration rate increased even more. In this experiment it was perfectly clear that the response was to redness, since the respiration rose with an increase of brightness, but rose still higher when that brightness was somewhat reduced by a filter which introduced hue.
In a study by S.O. Mast, flounders' tanks were painted various hues. Fish tended to choose blue as a resting-place and avoid other hues. This behavior also goes for the color of other fish. Fish are attracted to fish of the same color. Fishes capable of color change depend upon visual processes and lack the ability when blinded. Here again there is a curious disregard of brightness alone. Except under extremely high or low illumination, the fish will not respond to gradual changes in the amount of light entering its eye. Yet the moment its background is modified in lightness or darkness, the skin of the fish will rapidly conform in "value" to it.

Relevance of Research Question:
We actually weren't sure at first what kind of relevance we could possibly offer concerning our project. And then after deliberation we think that by applying what we find in the fishes' color preferences, it may help us learn in an unbiased manner color preferences for other animals and even people. Yes, you could argue that directly testing people could be the best solution, but in our opinion on average people have biases towards everything. And these are not necessarily on purpose or for a conscious reason. But never the less they are variables in testing that we plan
to be able to get around.

Fish of different species
The appropriate fish maintenance paraphernalia
-Bowls (spherically shaped)
-Fish food
-Clear Rocks
-Masking tape to divide bowls into quadrants and hemispheres
Sheets of coloured construction paper

ü To start, purchase the necessary materials as mentioned above, such as
the fish, uniformly shaped/sized bowls, clear rocks, and food.
ü Next, fill the bowls with the clear rocks and 4.5 inches of water. Then divide the bowls into quadrants (uniformly labeled 1/A, 2/B, 3/C, 4/D) and hemispheres (top and bottom).
ü Now, organize a set of criteria to distinguish the characteristics that should be looked for during observation. After determining the criteria (see Data Sheet) organize a timeline of research. In this timeline, it was decided that the colours would be tested in the order of red, yellow, blue, orange, green, black, and white. Place the coloured paper against the quadrants1/A and 2/B: see Diagram 1. Test each colour three times, one at a time (one colour per day) in the time interval of three minutes (with a minute in between each testing to allow the fish to readapt to the natural, color-free environment).
ü Record all observations.

Diagram 1: Division of bowl into quadrants (left), and placement of paper or testing

In beginning the study, our group sat down and brainstormed the possible avenues we could take to tackle the problem of studying the behavioral reactions of fish to colour. After coming to a general consensus regarding an effective and appropriate experimental design, we set ourselves to work.
We are quite sure that our experimental design is statistically sound. We say this because in the beginning, the way we were testing was cause for major error. However, after the class presentation and participation, we received some very useful advice on how to make our design even better. For example, the suggestion of making all the fish bowls identical, as well as, the colour of the rocks on the bottom was implemented and improved the reliability of our tests. We also came up with a set criterion, which we didn't have before then, on which to observe our fish by. This eliminates most of the error of differing opinions and descriptions for the fish behaviour.
Unfortunately, we had a few mishaps along the way that may have caused the soundness of our experiment to be lessened. The problem was that many of our fish had died for reasons that are unclear, and they were replaced by new specimens. For example, one of the goldfish died, and another one was bought to replace it. Therefore, the test specimen was not kept constant, and different fish may have different reactions to each colour. The part of this that makes it alright is that none of the fish died after we started testing with the new criteria.
Unfortunately, no project is perfect…but the inability to achieve absolute perfection certainly hasn't decreased our efforts in trying! With careful planning and dedication, we have worked hard to create and perform an unbiased experiment.
Although our initial hypothesis was based on human behavioural reactions to certain color, our resulting data was being taken strictly from observation. To make certain that biases are not being used in forming group results, each individual of the group is testing their own fish. A few of us in the group, however, are testing the same species- the beta. Data is then collected from each member and similarities are taken into account as factual, unbiased data.
In guaranteeing that the data from our fellow class members is unbiased as well, we set up an area in the classroom that housed the fish we've been testing all this time. Not only did this allow the fish to be easily accessible to the students, it guaranteed that the exact same fish were being continually used throughout the study. With a posted timeline, each group was then responsible to test the fish (as a group) according to the time schedule. This schedule then aided in consistency within the class as to which color is being tested and when it's being tested. The data was then collected from each group and will be entered as "results" by our group.

Timeline for Experiment:

Week 6: Purchased fish: ~ Beta
~ Gold Fish
Experiment with the Control Group: observe the 'normal' behavior of the fish
and record
Post results on the web.

Week 7: Experiment with the color red
Compare our observations and post them on the course web site.

Week 8: Experiment with the color yellow, compare data, and post results.
Work on our Lab Packet and make worksheets.
Week 9: Experiment with the color blue, compare data, and post results.
Final Student Generated Lab Packet due!

Week 10: Experiment with the color orange, compare data, and post results.

Week 11: Experiment with the color green, compare data, and post results.

Week 12: Experiment with the color black, compare data, and post results.

Week 13: Experiment with the color white, compare data, and post results.

Week 14: Reevaluate experimental design and decide that it needs improvement, so
buy identical fishbowls and rocks, organize a list of evaluation criteria, and
spend each day of the week testing a color (three times a day for three
minutes, with a minute rest in between). Record results for each. Search for
other vertebrate/color studies in order to post research to use as preceding
reference in our study.

Week 15: Enter data into Stat view, analyze data, discard Roy's fish data
due to unforeseen complications in standardized survey, and present lab
project to class.

Week 16: Student Generated Lab Due!!!
Make revisions to previous written lab. Post final lab on the web.
Turn in a floppy disk and paper copy
Data Table

The guidelines we came up with are:
-When the coloured paper is put up against the fish bowl, what direction is the fish facing? Looking at the paper, or away? Or to what side?

-When color is applied, what quadrant (the fish bowls have been marked off into four quadrants by a horizontal line and a vertical line across the top) is the fish in? 1, 2, 3, or 4?

-What quadrant, if any, does it move to, and how long did it take the fish to move there?

-What hemisphere is the fish in? (the water level in every bowl has been made the same and it's been marked off, in the middle, to have a top and a bottom hemisphere)

-Does the fish change hemispheres? If so, how long does it take the fish to move?

We've decided that we're going to test one colour a day and do three, three-minute repetitions with a one-minute break in between. Each day of the week we're going to change the colour and when we've gone through all the colours, we'll start the cycle again. This process should help insure the integrity of our tests of each colour.
The data table we will use to record our observations is:

Species of Fish Date Colour Observations based on the questions above








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