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Ichthyology Course

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    The Ichthyology students observed Zebrafish larvae exhibiting positive phototaxis, a tendency to move towards the light. In this experiment, half of a glass tank was covered in foil to create dark conditions and students watched as the larvae settled themselves in the lighted portion. Check out video from this lab.
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    Students in the Ichthyology class at Washington College, taught by Dr. Martin Connaughton, observed and experimented with male Betta fish and their displays of aggression. Students learned the different signs of aggression (opercle expansion, lateral display, approach, fin spreading, etc.) that a male might exhibit in order to intimidate an opposing male, an object outside the tank, or even its own reflection. After observing their behavior, students developed their own experiments to determine the impact of factors such as fish size, fish color, and opercle size on the fish’s display of aggression.
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    The Ichthyology class at Washington College studies the major groups of fish as well as systematics, physiology, behavior, ecology, and evolution of fish. Student spend the first half of semester getting acquainted with the fish collection here at Washington College. Dr. Martin Connaughton brought his students to the Smithsonian Natural Science Support Center, where they house millions of specimens and collections of fish, to test their fish knowledge.