Data of the manuscript Aversive control of Betta splendens behavior using water disturbances: Effects of signaled and unsignaled free-operant avoidance and escape contingencies

Published: 25 December 2018| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/3dg4vn85rv.1
Camilo Hurtado-Parrado


Research on aversive control of behavior using animal models typically employs electric-shock based procedures with avian and mammalian species. There is a need for testing shock-based facts about aversive control using other forms of stimulation and other species. Here you find available the data supporting the study in which we developed a preparation for studying free-operant avoidance with Betta splendens in which water flows (WFs) replaced electric shocks (Hurtado-Parrado, Acevedo-Triana, & Pear, 2019 - Fish changed compartments in a shuttle tank to escape or avoid 10-s WFs, which were delivered with 30-s flow-flow (F-F) and response-flow (R-F) intervals. We tested the effect of adding a warning stimulus (curtains of air bubbles) to the last 5 s of the response-flow interval (i.e., signaled avoidance) on the bettas’ behavioral patterns. Crossings during the WFs were categorized as escape (Esc) and initiated a R-F interval. Crossings that occurred during R-F or F-F intervals were classified as avoidance, and likewise initiated an R-F interval. Avoidance crossings were further differentiated into early avoidance (EA) if crossing occurred during the first 25 s of the R-F interval; late avoidance (LA) if crossing occurred during the last 5 s of the R-F interval; and Flow-Flow avoidance (FF) if crossing occurred anytime during the F-F interval. Here we present the data of six bettas across the different phases of the study; namely, baseline (BL - no WFs programmed), signaled avoidance (SA - the warning stimulus was scheduled), and unsignaled avoidance (UA - no warning stimulus presented). The dataset available here includes for each fish and per daily session the total number of crossings; frequency of each type of crossing (Esc, EA, LA, FF); total WF frequency and duration, and the total time spent in each compartment. Escape was the predominant response across all fish, which importantly reduced their exposure to the WFs. Avoidance responses rarely exceeded the frequency of escape.



University of Manitoba, Universidad Pedagogica y Tecnologica de Colombia, Troy University, Fundacion Universitaria Konrad Lorenz


Animal Behavior, Experimental Psychology, Reinforcement Learning, Learning, Avoidance Conditioning