How to Clicker Train Your … Fish?


All you need is some patience and a few good tips to clicker train fish. Yes, it may seem daunting and impossible but follow these tips watch your fish perform.

You’ve heard about the effectiveness of clicker training for dogs and maybe even for cats but for Goldie floating around in the bowl on the counter?

Yup and here’s how!

Why Do It?

Truthfully, this is a great exercise for a science fair project. Clicker training is an excellent example of something called a “conditioned reinforcer”. This type of behavior was studied by B.F. Skinner back in the 1960s and 70s and is used to shape behavior.

How Does It Work?

This method is a teach by reward only system and has been used with puppies for ages. The point is to only reward the desired behavior. If you ask your pup to sit and she does, you click and give her a treat. If she doesn’t, you keep trying until you get the desired behavior.

After a while, your pup will understand that, by doing what you ask, she’ll get something yummy. Dog trainers usually suggest using something out of the ordinary good like cooked hot dog or chicken.

The Clicker and the Treat

Here’s the deal with fish: Since they are primarily visual beings, using the standard audible clicker as he only tool won’t be effective. The thing to use to train a goldfish is light.

And you won’t use hot dog or chicken as a treat but regular fish food. It’s recommended that you place a glass plate over the opening of the bowl and spread fish food on the surface. When your fish does the requested maneuver, slide a piece of food into the bowl – recommend by spreading some food on a plate and then using a small table knife to slide just one piece into the bowl.

clicker train fish, training fish

Clicker Train Fish – Goals

The first goal is really for you and it’s patience. This is true for any clicker training but particularly for a goldfish. Start by seeing your gold buddy as just that, a friend. Fish are amazingly smart and can perform several stunts successfully.

Targeting – or getting your fish to go toward or touch a particular object – is a great first goal to aim for. It helps grab your fish’s attention and leads him to you. It’s the beginning of that all-important bond.

Other goals include swimming through or around a fixed object in the tank like a castle or structure, swimming in a circle.

When you want your fish to target an object, place your finger on the side of the bowl.

Once your fish has performed the task satisfactorily, you can tap your fish food knife against the bowl and then scrape a piece of food off the plate into the water as a treat.

How Long Does It Take?

If you’re consistent in training … say about 15 minutes a day … it should take less than two weeks or so to reach some goals and wow your friends.


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Gerald Owens, has a vision – to create an online community that embraces all aspects to having and caring for pets. Our mission is to provide pet “guardians” with accurate, relevant information on how to have happier and healthier animal companions.