Training a fish!

18 Mar

Teach a fish to do what you might ask? How about push a ball around on the bottom of the tank or to swim through a hoop?  Anything is possible!  The same techniques and methods that work on people, chimps, dolphins, horses, and dogs also work on fish.  With a few slight modifications of course.  For my fish Clovis, I am using a pen light as my reward marker- the way I tell the fish “yes that’s right”. I flash the light exactly when the fish is doing something that I want. I follow it up with a food reward so that I am likely to get that same behavior again when I ask for it. Below is a clip of a recent session.  We are both new to this: the fish is fairly new to the tank and I have never trained a fish before, so there is learning curve for us both.

We have established that when I place my finger on the tank he will move towards the front of the tank. I am working on a movement to follow my finger.  So in the clip below, you will see me flash the light after he starts to follow my finger- that is my signal to tell the fish that is the behavior that I want.  Also since we have some conditioning in place, when I flash the light you will see him orient to the top of the tank where the food comes in.  My food hand is always present and stays still on the tank before I start our training session.  This avoids me having to reach towards the tank to feed him. I do this so that the fish does not associate the movement of my hands around the tank with food. I just want clean training and as few distractions as possible.

I will post more when I can.  We don’t do much training and I don’t always video, but I will try to do more now that I have this blog.


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