A characteristic effect of LSD-25 is failure of normal behavioral responses. In fish, LSD disrupts the normal patterns of swimming. When Betta splendens is placed in 100 mL fresh spring water containing 1 ug/mL LSD, the fish move to the surface of the water, in a nose-up, tail-down position. Their swimming movements are reduced, and they remain physically immobilized in statue-like positions for many hours. Another effect is the darkening of the basic body color of Betta, which fades slowly as recovery occurs. Abramson and colleagues noted that juvenile fish were more sensitive to color change than adult Betta (Abramson,H.A. 1954).
Six behaviors were identified for LSD-intoxicated Siamese fighting fish.
1a. Backward movements.
1b. Head up, and the body is suspended in the vertical plane. In the maximum stage of narcosis the snout is kept at the surface. As effects begin to wear off, the fish sinks slowly below the surface until after 6 hours it might take a position 2 inches below the surface.
1c. "Cartesian diver" effect. Treated fish sinks or rises very slowly in near-vertical plane without visible body movement except by means of pectoral fins.
1d. Treated fish exhibits kinking in its body conformation.
1e. "Trancelike" effect.
1f. Movements of fish were slow and deliberate as compared with the typical swift and sudden movements of normal fish.
Are these descriptions arbitrary? In Cold Spring Harbor, 1956, four judges, two zoology majors and two physiology majors in their senior year of college, spent approximately 8 hours observing fish in LSD-containing water. Only one response was measured on a given trial. As shown in the table below, there was a significant amount of agreement between judges about the 'quiescent state' parameter (Arbit,J. 1957).
The figure below is the goldfish surfacing curve for 0.5 ug/mL LSD in water. About 95% of the fish show a nose-up, tail-down reaction within 20 minutes (Abramson,H.A. 1979).
Some of the largest fish studied were carp. Control fish spend over 90% of their time at the bottom of the tank, as shown on the right (below). After 45 minutes in water containing 2 ug/mL LSD, carp spent more time at the surface (below, left) (Abramson,H.A. 1962).
R. Chessick studied the effects of LSD on Betta, guppy (Lebistes reticulatus), and white cloud (Tanichthys albonubes). The effects common to all species in LSD-containing water included darkening of body color and less spontaneous activity (Chessick,R.D. 1964).
ABRAMSON, H. A. and L.T. EVANS (1954). Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD 25). II. psychobiological effects on the siamese fighting fish. Science. 120, 990-991. DOI:10.1126/science.120.3128.990
ARBIT, J. (1957). Effects of LSD-25 upon betta splendens: Reliability of a bioassay technique. J. Appl. Physiol.10, 317-318.
Abramson, H. A., H.H. Gettner, M.P. Hewitt and G. Dean (1962). Effect of lysergic acid diethylamide on the surfacing behaviour of large carp. Nature.193, 320-321. DOI:10.1038/193320a0
CHESSICK, R. D., J. KRONHOLM, M. BECK and G. MAIER (1964). Effect of pretreatment with tryptamine, tryptophan and dopa on LSD reaction in tropical fish. Psychopharmacologia. 5, 390-392. DOI:10.1007/BF00441449 Abramson, H. A., H.H. Gettner, P.A. Carone, A. Rolo, and L. Krinsky (1979). The intracranial injection of drug in goldfish. I: Hallucinogens and their antagonism to smooth muscle activity. The Journal of asthma research, 16, 55-61.
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