Demand feeding and locomotor circadian rhythms in the goldfish, Carassius auratus: dual and independent phasing

Physiol Behav. 1996 Aug;60(2):665-74. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(96)80046-1.


In contrast to the common diurnal and nocturnal ways of life, some fish species have been shown to have a dual phasing behaviour. Therefore, the daily pattern of behaviour is not always rigidly confined to the light or dark phase and a diurnal fish may become nocturnal and vice versa. In the present study, the locomotor and feeding activities of single goldfish were simultaneously investigated to examine the existence of such dual behaviour. Nineteen goldfish weighing 97.2 g on average were placed individually in 35-1 glass tanks equipped with an infrared sensor and a newly developed self-feeding device. Fish were exposed to a light:dark (LD) 12:12 h cycle, constant darkness (DD), and 45:45 min LD pulses to study endogenous rhythmicity. Under LD 12:12, the daily pattern of behaviour differed between individual fish; some goldfish were diurnal and others were nocturnal. Furthermore, some of them displayed an extraordinary flexibility in phasing because they were light active but dark feeding, and vice versa. Generally, goldfish tended to be day active, although their feeding habits appeared equally distributed between light and dark phases. Under DD, goldfish showed free-running rhythms that averaged 25.3 +/- 1.8 h and 24.4 +/- 1.7 h for locomotor activity and feeding, respectively, but that were slightly shorter under LD pulses. These results indicate that the type of phasing of locomotor activity did not necessarily decide the feeding phase; much of this is explained by the fact that goldfish were self-fed. Flexibility in phasing and a certain degree of independence between locomotor and feeding activities could be seen as an adaptative response of the highly adaptable circadian system of fish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Darkness
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Goldfish / physiology*
  • Light
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*