Fish School employs two techniques long used to train animals - positive reinforcement and shaping. The basic idea is to reinforce successive, increasingly accurate approximations of a desired behavior. In training an animal to press a lever, for example, simply turning toward the lever will be rewarded at first. Then, only turning and stepping toward it will be rewarded. With a little time and repetition, the animal will learn to perform the complete behavior to receive the reward.
Clicker training uses positive reinforcement and shaping to train dogs. This method is also used to train circus animals like lions, elephants and bears to perform amazing feats like jumping through flaming hoops, balancing on two legs, and even riding a motorcycle! Aquatic mammals like dolphins, whales and seals can also learn this way. Shaping has even been used to train pigs to push a shopping cart with their front legs while walking on their hind legs!
The key fact that makes Fish School possible is that shaping doesn't just work for mammals - it works for fish too! This isn't surprising since numerous scientific studies of fish learning have shown that fish are smarter than people think. As any fish owner will attest, fish are very bright and curious. They will naturally learn simply behaviors such as swimming to the surface seeking food when you approach the tank. To learn more about the scientific evidence for fish intelligence, see our links page.
Fish School takes this natural curiosity and learning ability to the next level, using shaping and positive reinforcement.
The results can be quite astonishing, not to mention fun, as you can see from the photo gallery of Fish School graduates.
But don't take our word for it, read the testimonials from people about Fish School, fish intelligence and learning.
Or read about the fascinating history of Fish School, which was developed by a father and his young son who were trying to make their fish into more interesting pets.
And don't forget to visit the Fish School Forum, to discuss, share tips and hear recent news about the fascinating hobby of pet fish training.
The R2 Fish School Kit, coming in February, will contain everything you'll need to teach your very own pet fish to perform amazing tricks including a training manual, instructional DVD and all the equipment you need.