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P~ychological report^, 1975, 37, 97-98.

@ Psychological Reports 1975

CHEMORECEPTION I N BETTA SPLENDENS


ARMANDO SIM6W
Wichita State Uniuezsi$y
Summrzry.4 Ss were kept visually and chemically isolated for 21 days in
individual glass beakers with no aereation or drainage. They were then transplanted to each orheis beakers (their "habitats"), which retained the water
"contaminated" by the original S. They were observed for signs of aggressive
display. N o sign of displaying occurred.

Male Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, display to each other before
fighting. This can be observed by housing two individuals together, whereupon
they will become darker in coloration, make gill and fin erections. Hess (1953)
elicited displays from Bettas by using visual stimuli only, motionless twodimensional models of varying intensities of color, all models having the effect
of eliciting displays from Ss. It was the purpose of this experiment to find
out whether chemical stimulation alone will elicit display reactions from male
Bettas. It has previously been shown that Bettas will display to their mirror
images less frequently in water in which other Bettas have just fought than in
fresh water presumably because of chemicals released from torn fins (Baenninger,
1968). Marrone, Pray, and Bridges (1966) found "spontaneous" display by
Bettas when placed in solutions of norepinephrine, with bleaching occurring in
an epinephrine solution.
M e t h o d . 4 ~were four adult male Betta spiendens obtained from a local
aquarium supplier. Ss were approximately 6.0 cm. in length, uniformly having
a pale blue body with some red in the fins when not displaying. Similarity in
color of Ss was chosen on evidence for behavioral differences as a function of
color (Thompson & Sturm, 1965; Grabowski & Thompson, 1968; Simpson,
1968).
They were housed individually in glass beakers of 600 ml. Distilled water
was used, and the water level was maintained at 500 ml. Ss were fed with
brine shrimp and kept visually isolated from each other throughout the experiment. Ss were kept in the same beaker for 21 days with no aereation, drainage,
plants, or snails. Temperature was set at 25OC, except on the test day and two
days previously, when it rose to 28OC due to mechanical breakdown.
On Day 21, two Ss were transplanted with a fish net to each other's beakers,
so that in effect they were in "contaminated water of their "opponents" (Ss
remained visually isolated). They were observed for 15 min. for evidence of
display in the form of gill erections and/or color changes. They were then returned to their home environment and were observed for another 15 min. for
'The assistance of Julia Flinsbaugh is gratefully acknowledged.

evidence of display. The sequence was reversed with the remaining Ss.
They were picked up and set down in their own beakers and observed for 15
min. They were then picked up and transplanted into the "contaminated"
water and observed for 15 min.
Re~zl1t.s.-No evidence of display, either in gill erection or in change of
color, occurred at any time in the experiment with any Ss. This lack of aggressive display, in any of its components, whether of gill or fin erections or of
color change, was surprising. Consequently, to test for latency of display, Ss
were transplanted into beakers with fresh water and visual obstructions removed.
Display reactions occurred upon their seeing each other. There was no difference
in handling time between transference from home beaker to "contaminated"
beaker, and "contaminated" beaker to home beaker.
On the basis of this experiment it may be concluded that, given Betcas of
the above body color, chemoreception does not play a part in detecting an opponent of the same species and of the same color. However, there is evidence that
displaying can be influenred via chemicals, known or unknown (Marrone,
Pray, & Bridges, 1966; Baenninger, 1968). Because of chis evidence, it is our
intention to investigate further whether a displaying Betta releases chemicals
which stimulate a display reaction in another Betta.
REFERENCES

BAENNINGER,
R. Fighting by Berta splendens: effects on displaying by conspecifics.
Psychonomic Science, 1968, 10, 185-186.

GRABOWSKI,
J. G., & THOMPSON,
T. Effects of visual reinforcer brightness and color on

operant behavior of Siamese fighting fish. Psychonomic Science, 1968, 11, 111112.
HESS,E. H. Temperature as a regulator of the attack-response of Betra splendens. Zeitschrift fii. Tierpsychologie, 1953, 9, 379-382.
~~RRON
R. EL.,, PRAY,S. L., & BRIDGES,
C. C. Norepinephrine elicitation of aggressive
responses in Betta splendens. Psychonomic Science, 1966, 5, 207-208.
SMPSON, M. J. The display of the Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens. Animal Behaviour Monographs, 1968, 1 , 1-73.
THOMPSON,
T., & SmM, T . Visual-reinforcer color, and operant behavior in Siamese
fighting fish. Journal o f the Expe~imentalAmlysis o f Behavior, 1965, 8, 341-346.

Accepted May 20, 1975.