My fish have (theoretically) been sleep deprived for three days. I can’t tell much of a difference. If anything they seem more active than the other fish, but they do have to constantly outswim a rotating ruler and their tank is pretty small. There is also a bright lamp on a timer that turns on and off every 30 minutes, so even if I can’t prevent sleep I know they’re regularly disturbed.
This is what the set up looks like:
I’m testing the sleepless group against control fish in a behavioral assay. I wanted to use a T-maze adopted from Mark Antimony’s experiment but the initial results were dismal. It took some fish over ten minutes to find the food reward (during which I once left to find a food reward of my own. Sweet sweet NutterButters…).
So… I modified the test. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that now I’m prodding the fish with a pen and timing how long it takes them to “escape” (go to a protected side of the tank). The results are definitely cleaner than the ones from the maze, but I still don’t think I’ll be able to describe a difference between the groups. What is cool is to see the way fish learn. Individuals generally get faster each trail; I think that trend should be significant.