The Role of Eyespots in Predator Recognition and Antipredatory Behaviour of the Paradise Fish, Macropodus opercularis L.


Dept. of Behavioural Genetics, L. Eötvös University, Jávorka S. 14, H-2131 Göd.


The behaviour of the paradise fish in the presence of either a living pike or catfish or various dummies or a catfish equipped with a pair of artificial big eyes was studied. Analyzing the first encounter two separate periods of the predator recognition process could be identified. The primary form of the antipredatory reaction was orientation (looking at the object while keeping a constant eye and body position) which was elicited by any fish-like bodies but not by bare eyes without a body. During orientation the presence of pike or catfish equipped with artificial eyes or a dummy with horizontal eyes elicited fin erecting display. This reaction was sporadic in the presence of a normal catfish which has very small eyes. The biological significance of this separate organization of exploration is discussed.