This is an amusing video clip out of either China or Japan—not sure which as the announcer is speaking Mandarin, but the two dudes are speaking Japanese—about a guy and his goldfish that he’s managed to train to respond to hand signals:
There’s some debate (I’m being generous with that word) in the YouTube comments on whether it’s faked, but I don’t doubt that it’s real only because I once had a goldfish myself that was trained. He was a prize from one of those silly toss a ping pong ball into a goldfish bowl games that are always at traveling carnivals. This was back in 1976 during the Bicentennial celebration that took place in downtown Pontiac Michigan. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the goldfish, it was the sort commonly sold as feeder fish at places like Meijers and probably cost less than the game did to play, and my mother groused that the damned thing would probably die within a week of getting it home.
This meant that getting a full-blown aquarium was out of the question. Instead he got your standard issue goldfish bowl with a small bit of rock for the bottom and a traditional castle decoration he could swim in and out of that was picture perfect of the goldfish bowl stereotype you see in cartoons all the time. No filter system, no aerator, not so much as an animated plastic diver decoration. My mother plopped him into the water and waited for him to die. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And the little sum’bitch just kept on going as though to spite my mother.
Now I was all of 8 years old (going on 9) when I got that gold fish and my memory of the time isn’t perfect so I can’t begin to explain why it is that my older brother came to be primary care taker of the goldfish, but I suspect it had to do with the facts that A) I was 9 and ADHD without knowing it and B) the goldfish bowl came to sit on the piano in the living room that was converted to be my brother’s bed room when the two of us got too old to room together. For whatever reason, whenever he went to feed the fish, Wes got into the habit of picking up the fish food and circling the outside of the bowl with it several times until the fish started following by swimming around his bowl in circles. Eventually it got to the point where all Wes had to do was pick up the fish food box and the goldfish would suddenly start swimming in mad circles in anticipation of the food that was about to be served. Wes had managed to train the goldfish and we were all suitably impressed.
That silly goldfish lasted for many years, certainly longer than anyone expected it to, surviving a bowl in which he had to stay near the surface after awhile in order to gulp in air as the water would slowly lose what little oxygen it held. Cleaning the bowl probably didn’t happen as often as it should considering its unfiltered status, but that didn’t deter the fish either. In the end what killed the fish was my younger sister trying to be considerate. Cindy decided she wanted a real aquarium so she bought one and brought it home and set it all up along with a couple of fish of a sort I don’t recall at the moment, might’ve been more goldfish, but I’m not sure. It had everything my little goldfish bowl didn’t: aerator, filter, fake sea background, little animated diver dude, the works. At some point she went to clean her aquarium and thought she’d take care of the goldfish bowl at the same time and she ended up putting all three fish into the same bowl of water she had set up as a holding tank while she cleaned the aquarium and bowl and then she returned the fish to their respective homes thinking she had done a good deed. Naturally, all three fish died within a matter of days.
So all of that is just to say that, yeah, I can believe the dude in that video clip really did train his goldfish to respond to his hand signals because I know it can be done. It’s obvious he’s spent way more time on it than Wes ever did (or would ever be inclined to), but I don’t doubt that it’s real because I had a goldfish much like that… until MY SISTER KILLED IT!*
*Just kidding Cindy.