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Reading Fish Body Language

Learn to interpret what your fish may be telling you.

By Jonathan E. Freedman, Ph.D. |

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Whether it is a confident walk, a firm handshake, or slumped shoulders and shifty eyes, we are accustomed to reading the body language of our fellow humans. But did you know that the fish in our aquariums also display a sort of body language, behavioral cues that can tell us a lot about whether they are healthy or sick, bullied by tankmates or preparing to breed? By learning to read some simple signs, you can become a better fish-keeper, as well as derive more pleasure from watching the many behaviors of your fish.

Often a behavior that means “I am sick” differs only slightly from one that means “I am thriving and in a dominant position,” but it is easy to tell the difference if you know what to look for. In fact, understanding these differences is starting to be recognized as an economically important skill in commercial fish farming. Here, I will focus on what the hobbyist needs to know for a home aquarium.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the July 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.

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