Naive European minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) do not show a fright reaction when they first encounter the odour of a natural predator (the pike: Esox lucius) or the odour of a non-piscivorous exotic (tilapia: Tilapia mariae). A conditioned fright response to both these odours will however develop if minnows experience them in a potentially dangerous situation, for example, in conjunction with Schreckstoff, the ostariophysian alarm pheromone. Although minnows respond to both odours the reaction to the tilapia odour is reduced. This suggests that a constraint on learning is involved. Olfactory recognition is particularly valuable for detecting predators that hunt in conditions where visibility is poor.