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A Cichlid's Training Day

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jan 13, 2015 09:00 AM
Sit fish sit. Good fish. Maybe we can't make our fish sit, but there are many tricks we can teach the fish we keep. Fish are much more capable than people have historically given them credit for.

Last summer, we published an article about training goldfish to perform tricks using the R2 Fish School.  By using operant conditioning via positive reinforcement, goldfish are taught to perform numerous feats like swimming through hoops.  This type of conditioning is the same concept used to train a dog to sit.

Cichlid owners know their fish are no dummies either; some would even say their cichlids are devilishly smart.  Thus, it's not surprising to see cichlid performing the same tricks using the R2 Fish School training program.  This unedited training session video was shared on reddit:

Now if only we could teach our fish not to do bad things like rearrange aquascapes, bully other fish, or eat expensive tankmates like your favorite coral.  Maybe we can.

Researchers are constantly discovering that fish are smart animals capable of memorization, recognition, strategic planning, and even tool use.  Scientific studies have also shown that stimulated fish are healthier then those living in sterile conditions.  By giving your fish something to interact with - whether it be a stimulating surroundings, "playmates," or interactions with their owners - you can make your fish smarter, happier, and healthier.  We classically think of aquarium fish as "respectfully hands-off" companions, but maybe that needn't always be the case.

Right, Comet?

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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