Teaching Fish Tricks
FISH LEARNING TRICKS? WHY NOT! Aquarium Fish and Fish in Bowls can be taught tricks. But the trainer must be patient and kind, creative and able to break the tricks down to itty bitty baby steps for the fish they are teaching.
What can a fish learn? Well, with the right trainer, actually quite a few things. Fish can indeed learn to do agility around and through little Agility Equipment such as Hoops and Tunnels, go under Poles and even Weave Poles. I have seen fish play ball with humans using a Ping Pong ball. I have seen them Ring Bells and Play Soccer, and Basket Ball. I even saw a video of a fish Fetching a Little Ring and Doing the Limbo under a little Limbo Poll. Limbo and Agility Weaving Polls, so much different then a Fishing Pole.
To train a fish you must take it slow and be patient. You must have a plan, ideas of what types of tricks you want to train, and little props that are not only safe for the fish to use, but also safe for the water it lives in. Remember the fish will need to understand what you are asking it to do. You will need to set the fish up for success with each trick, task or piece of Agility Equipment you are trying to teach it. You can not get into the tank/bowl with the fish and even if you could you would still need to be clear in what you are training the fish. Each little bitty move the fish makes in the correct direction of learning, must be rewarded.
WHAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO
First of all do not set the sites for your training so high that you are disappointed. Your fish is not going to learn Search and Rescue. But it can learn small tasks. You must take your time. Be patient. Little by little, call them baby steps while training your fish.
Never, ever, try to punish your fish. That would be abuse. Your fish has no idea what you want until you take the time to break down each little bitty step for it to learn. Think of teaching someone that does not speak your language. How quickly would you yourself learn? Absolutely depends on the teacher and how well they communicate with you. Smacking you is not going to help you learn.
Do not leave training aids in the bowl or tank with the fish. Remove them after each training session. You want the fish to notice the item, to expect something to happen with these items arrive. If left in the tank bad habits around them could also occur. If you want your fish to swim Through a Hoop, you will have it go through the same direction each time. If you leave the Hoop in the tank the hoop becomes part of the decor, not a training aid. The fish may also start swimming through the hoop, either direction, and be confused when it does not receive a treat.
Some metals are ok to use for training aids, others can change the PH balance of your tank. But to be honest. I am not sure the few minutes per day you work with your fish with a metal item in the tank would hurt. But please check on that before using most metal.
IT IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!
There are many people "out there" today that want you to believe that training an animal is either new, or Rocket Science. Let me tell you, like Solomon said way back in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Holy Bible NIV Version) "What has been will be again, what has been done well be done again; There is nothing new under the sun." Solomon, owned and worked with many types of animals. If you read I Kings 10 you will read about not only his MANY horses, mules and donkeys, but also his apes, baboons and more.
To train an animal, any animal, including a fish you do/will not need a noise maker, you do not need a degree in animal behavior, you just have to connect with the animal you are training, be patient and quick to reward.
The contents of this page for Teaching Fish Tricks is still under construction.
TRAINING YOUR FISH TO SWIM THROUGH A HOOP
Believe it or not, you teach a fish to SWIM THROUGH A HOOP the same way as you would teach a dog or guinea pig to come through a Hoop. You set the Hoop between the fishes food and the fish. Yes. Really, that simple. If the fish moves to around the Hoop, you move the Hoop, keeping it in front of the fish at all times. Tap your pen shaft on the tank and hold it over the food. It won't be long before your fish SWIMS THROUGH THE HOOP to go and eat it's meal.
Hold the Hoop still as the fish eats. You not only do not want the fish to be started by the Hoop's movement, you might be surprised that some fish will turn and go back through the hoop after they eat.
TRAINING YOUR FISH TO MOVE AN ITEM
TRAINING YOUR FISH TO GO UNDER A LIMBO POLE
Set up your Limbo Pole and make sure it is stable. At fist you will want the Limbo Pole set up high so that your fish does not have to go too low into the tank to learn this trick. Make sure that when the fish swims under it the Limbo Pole will not move. Using your tube/pen shaft have your fish follow the pen shaft down to the Limbo Pole, but set the tube/shaft close enough to the Limbo Pole that the fish is on the far side of the tube/shaft. Move the tip of the pen shaft under the Limbo Pole, your fish should put it's mouth near the tube/shaft, pull the tube/shaft so that the fish follows the tube and swims under the Limbo Pole. Feed your fish right away after it comes through the Limbo Pole.
After you have had your fish go under the for a few days, you will probably only need to set the tube/shaft near the Limbo Pole for the fish to know what you want it to do.
TRAINING YOUR FISH TO WEAVE POLES
Again, taught the same way you might teach a mouse or a dog. At first only set up three Weave Polls, not the five or more you will eventually teach the fish to weave. Using your tube/shaft guide your fish through the Weave Polls.
TRAINING YOUR FISH TO "GIVE YOU A KISS"
Be sure to take photos and videos of your fish doing it's tricks and agility. I am so bad about this. Hands full, you know. Not only will you want to show off your fish, you will have proof that, yes, you really do have a fish that you have trained to do tricks and more.