Positive reinforcement training with your pet fish

December 7, 2017

Exotic Animals

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Positive reinforcement is a way to encourage a particular type of behavior by giving a reward. The principles of positive reinforcement are used in all types of animal training. If you want a particular behavior out of your pet, you simply give them a reward every time they behave in the way you want. Of course the ‘reward’ actually differs from animal to animal.

Positive reinforcement has been used as a training method for pet dogs, chickens, cats, rats – really all animals can be trained using these basic training principles. In psychology operant conditioning/ positive reinforcement is used as a way to help people overcome fears or phobias. Learning for reward is the basis of all learning. How does your pet fish fit in to the world of positive reinforcement? There is a common misconception that pet fish are not capable of being trained. Positive reinforcement has proven beyond a doubt that fish such as goldfish, bettas, oscars, cichlids and many more are more than capable of being trained. Not only can they be taught several kinds of tricks, they can interact with their owners in a way that was reserved only for other pets in the house.

The R2 Fish School kit includes a feeding wand device to deliver food rewards as part of the training of a fish. When this wand is first introduced to the fish the fish may swim away. It typically takes just the first 20 minute training session for the fish to realize that the feeding wand is delivering food – at the point the fish realizes that the wand is delivering a treat (the same way your dog responds to a tasty food treat) the fish will follow the wand. At this point of recognition the trainer can wave the wand around the water and the fish will actively follow the wand through the tank. Training has begun! There are many videos on the internet of trained fish doing a variety of agility type tricks.

Examples of tricks that you can train your pet fish to do with the help of positive reinforcement techniques are shooting hoops, playing soccer, limbo, playing fetch, slalom, football and a whole lot more. The important thing to understand however is that you need to use positive reinforcement techniques that are specific to your pet fish. These techniques are actually quite simple and you can get the hang of it fairly quickly. It will amaze you how fast your pet fish starts responding to various positive reinforcement training techniques.