an­i­mal magic

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Dr Anne Fawcett is a lec­turer in vet­eri­nary science at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney and a vet with Syd­ney An­i­mal Hos­pi­tals In­ner West. Dr Anne Fawcett

THE myth that fish have a three-sec­ond mem­ory has much to an­swer for.

Re­search has shown that fish are ca­pa­ble of think­ing and feel­ing. Stud­ies have found that they can ob­serve other fish and will ad­just their be­hav­iour according to their own so­cial po­si­tion.

Not many peo­ple train their fish. The big­gest bar­rier to do­ing so is the be­lief that they can­not be trained.

Libby Eyre, who trains fish at Sea Life Syd­ney Aquar­ium, says that any fish – in­clud­ing pet gold­fish – can be trained. In fact, you may have un­wit­tingly trained your fish al­ready. “If you feed them in the same lo­ca­tion in the aquar­ium, they will know to go there for food,” she says.

The first step is to of­fer a small food re­ward when your fish swims to a cer­tain lo­ca­tion. Once your fish learns to swim to this lo­ca­tion, you can then re­ward your fish for swim­ming to another lo­ca­tion. This teaches the fish to fol­low. You can even buy small hoops or rings and teach your fish to swim through a ring.

Limit train­ing ses­sions to a few min­utes per day, and be care­ful not to over­feed fish.

“Train­ing is stim­u­lat­ing for fish and it cre­ates a rap­port be­tween the fish and the owner,” Eyre said. “They’re fast learn­ers.”

Read her blog: smal­l­an­i­maltalk.com

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