Training A Fish

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by kassidybc, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Well, you can teach a cat, you can teach a hamster, you can teach a dolphin, why can't you teach a fish? Well, I think you can. I'm going to attempt to teach a fish a trick. The only issue is, how do you clicker train an animal that can't hear? (Well, can't hear what's happening outside the water at least). And how do you give a fish a command to do a trick when they can't hear you saying something? Any ideas? I was thinking maybe a laser as a clicker, but could that blind them if it hit their eyes? And I don't have any ideas for giving them a command. Any help is welcome! Ill let you guys know how things go! I think I want to teach him to jump through a hoop....

  2. Mutt Experienced Member

    Jup it is possible:

    Looking at the first video they apparently use light (little flashlight) as a marker (which makes sense).
    Commands are not used, the probs are visual cues. So soccerball means push towards goal, hoop means go through, rugby ball means push upwards (etc.) and you can use a target stick. A feeding wand is used to deliver the reward.

    I do like to point out that fish are also living creatures with needs which deserve a nice life. Please search information about the kind of fish you want to keep and get a big enough fish tank (no round bowl :(). A common gold fish for instace is not very suituable to keep inside in a tank as they need a very big tank (a pond is much more suitable).
    Just because an animal is alive doesn't mean it has a good life (you can place a dog or a human in a small room without it dying, but it isn't a good life either...). Every pet deserves the right care :)
    Sorry it is not what you asked for, but I think these things can't be said enough :)
    MaryK, southerngirl and brodys_mom like this.
  3. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Thanks for the videos! The fish I will be teaching is a betta, he will be kept in a 5 gallon tank. I would like to teach the hoop trick to him, but expand it to the point where the hoop is held above the water and the fish jumps through it, as bettas are natural jumpers, so it should be easy to teach, and impressive. :) I obviously will keep the water an inch or two below the top of the tank so he doesn't jump out. I don't have a feeding wand, do you think I could reward by just putting a peice of food on top of the tank? They used the feeding wand to lure the fish to do the trick, but I was thinking more about shaping than luring.
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  4. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Do you think I should load the "clicker"? Like, shine the flashlight in, then give a peice of food. And continue until he sees the light and expects a peice of food?
    MaryK likes this.
  5. Mutt Experienced Member

    Yes, as this is always the first thing you do when starting clicker training.

    With animals that are less known for their trainability I would give the treat as quick as possible. I clicker trained my gerbil (desert rat) for instance and immediately gave him a treat (in his paws) when he got clicked. A fish will need a quick delivery too (especially in the beginning) so a feeding wand would be recomanded.

    I would start with a hoop in the water and maybe first teaching the fish to push something that is on the surface of the water (get him used to doing things on the surface).
    MaryK likes this.
  6. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Alright, thanks! I am leaving for camp today, so I will start when I get back!
    MaryK likes this.
  7. kcmetric Well-Known Member

    I taught my beta fish to swim through hoops, jump out of the water, and spin in a circle. I didn't use any sort of marker. Training sessions of course were kept small as he only had a few pellets a couple times of days. He actually picked up on the training very quickly and could swim through the hoop on the third day.

    Everything we did was free shaped. He offered a behavior I wanted, I treated, and we built up from there.
  8. MaryK Honored Member

    This thread is fascinating, you guys never fail to amaze me:) Sorry, cannot offer any help, I'm not good with fish the only ones I had committed suicide and I felt terrible, a real murderer, so have never ventured into the fishy realms again. But I am interested in seeing how all this progresses and do believe that any animal/fish/bird or insect can be trained with love and Positive Reinforcement.

    Mutt good post about the care and attention, all living creatures need to be treated with love, respect and have the proper surroundings!:)

    btw I did try with my fish but failed miserably, not sure what went wrong, but never again. Recognized that I didn't have the stomach/heart for the 'if you fail then try again' attitude of the chap at the Aquarium.:cry:
    Mutt and southerngirl like this.
  9. Linda A Experienced Member

    I saw these videos a while back and was blown away. I think they are great!!!
    MaryK likes this.
  10. Caiti Experienced Member

    I've trained one of my four betta fish using a clicker. He can touch a target, swim to the side of the tank I signal, swim through a hoop and more. :) Its a lot like training a dog. I've you have any questions, I'd love to help.
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.
  11. kassidybc Experienced Member

    I'm back from camp!
    You taught him using a clicker?? Like an actual clicker?? Did he seem to be able to hear it? I thought that I would have to use something visible like a flash of light, because I thought they wouldn't be able to hear an actual clicker. I don't know if I want to get a new betta to train or train my old one. The only reason I hesitate to train my old one is he is a couple years old and not necessarily the most active fish any more, and I would hate to spend lots of time training him and have him die soon after...
    MaryK likes this.
  12. kassidybc Experienced Member

    I got my fish today. He doesn't have a name yet. You guys can give me ideas if you want. :) I am going to start loading the clicker (flashlight) tomorrow. Then we will start working on tricks! I purchased a little trick set for fish off of Amazon, it comes with different obstacles and stuff, it should be getting here any day! Anyway, I'll keep you guys updated. Here he is (he is in the cup he came in in the picture, he is now in a 5.5 gallon tank)- image.jpg
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  13. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Will look forward to the updates, Kassidy!
    MaryK likes this.
  14. MaryK Honored Member

    He's very handsome:) Pardon my ignorance on fish, but what type of fish is he?

    Names, well um not used to naming fish but here goes.

    Flash Gordon

    Really looking forward to seeing his progress, and the set of fish obstacles you bought, never heard of those before. This is so fascinating!
  15. kassidybc Experienced Member

    He is a betta fish. Thanks for the ideas on names! I really like Neptune, I never thought about naming him after a planet! I like Flash Gordon also, or even just Flash is a cool name!

    If you want to see what the trick set is like, here is a link to the website-
    MaryK likes this.
  16. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Well, clicker training with a flashlight isn't working too well. It doesn't light up the whole tank, so half the time he doesn't see it... Any ideas what I could use instead?
    MaryK likes this.
  17. Mutt Experienced Member

    Do you do it like this (emptying the bowl hen training, clear water):

    I found that this is also used as a "clicker":
    MaryK likes this.
  18. kassidybc Experienced Member

    I do it with a fairly dim flashlight, not a laser pointer, as I didnt want to shine it directly in his eyes and have it blind him.
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  19. Mutt Experienced Member

    You are absolutely right not to want that :) is the other option that I posted an idea?
    MaryK likes this.
  20. kassidybc Experienced Member

    I didnt exactly understand what you meant in the other option, could you repost it in more detail? :)
    MaryK likes this.

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