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Goldfish Can Learn Tricks
January 24th, 2006

There is a delightful article on the front page of the Lifestyle section of the Tuesday, January 24, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, headed, "Fish Story: Mad Scientists' prove pet fish have more on the ball than we thought."


Dean Pomerleau, right, and his son Kyle, 9, president and vice president of Fish School, are the proud teachers of Albert Einstein, a 3-year-old calico fantail goldfish.

It tells us: "A Pine man and his son have trained a pet goldfish to 'carry' a football, 'shoot' a soccer ball into a net, even 'dance' the limbo. If you don't believe it, you can check out photos and videos at the Web site they've launched, www.fish-school.com."

We learn that one fish, named Isaac Newton, "is swimming through a hoop to get to a bit of food his trainer is offering via a homemade feeding wand" just one day after he was brought home.


Isaac Newton, a betta fish, swims through a hoop at Fish School.
 It will get a piece of food as a reward.

We read: This 'positive reinforcement' technique, as used to train other animals, is what Mr. Pomerleau, 41, and his 9-year-old son, Kyle, began experimenting with about a year ago when Kyle came home with two goldfish he'd won at a school fair.

Noticing that the fish recognized and responded to them as they approached their tank, the guys began researching fish intelligence and found lots of scientific evidence that fish are smarter than most people think.

And we learn that Pomerleau's fish training has serious motivation: "Mr. Pomerleau, who doesn't expect to give up his day job, says, 'It's been a fun project for the two of us,' but it's not just frivolous. He's a longtime vegan who doesn't eat any animal products. Kyle now doesn't eat fish.


Albert Einstein, pushes a soccer ball toward a goal at Fish School in Pine.

"They both believe that helping show that fish are sentient might help convince people to treat them better, a goal shared by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal's Fish Empathy Project." (You can learn more about that at www.FishingHurts.com )

You can read the whole article, and see pictures of the fish playing soccer, at:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06024/643104.stm

The article opens the door for letters to the editor about fishing as sport, or in favor of plant-based diets.

You can send a letter to the editor at: http://www.post-gazette.com/contact/comments_form.asp?ID=40

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