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Home > Fish > Can Goldfish Be Trained? Facts & FAQs

Can Goldfish Be Trained? Facts & FAQs

Goldfish in aquarium with green plants

Goldfish are widely considered to be unintelligent fish. In fact, there is a rumor that goldfish have a memory span of only 3 seconds, after which they will forget everything. Fortunately for goldfish, they have a far better memory than this! This means that goldfish are not only not stupid fish, but they are highly intelligent, social fish that can be trained to perform tricks. Here’s everything you never knew you wanted to know about goldfish training!

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What Can Goldfish Be Trained to Do?

Goldfish can’t be trained to perform overly complex tasks like a dog or cat can be. They can be trained to perform specific actions and play games, though. One of the easiest things to train your goldfish to do is to swim through a hoop. Over time, they can even be trained to swim through tunnels.

They can also be trained to pick up or play with objects, although they are unlikely to retrieve items for you. They may be trained to push or move objects, though, and some people even have had success in teaching their goldfish to pick up items and drop them into a specific spot, like a basket, target, or hoop.

Koi and Goldfish
Image By: Aleron Val, Shutterstock

How to Train Your Goldfish

It’s surprisingly easy to train goldfish because goldfish are major fans of eating! Positive reinforcement with food makes it easy to train your goldfish. You can use your goldfish’s regular food to reward them for performing tricks, or you can use high-value treats like bloodworms.

Training your goldfish isn’t difficult, but it can be time-consuming. You’ll need to work with your goldfish every day on parts of the trick until they accomplish each step and can work through the whole trick. This means that you may need to simply encourage your goldfish to go a certain direction or tap a certain point, then provide a food reward.

Once they’ve mastered a simple task, make the task slightly more complex. Cue your goldfish to perform a task by tapping twice on the tank glass. When you tap and then reward, your goldfish will associate whatever it was doing with food. This means that if you drop an object in the tank you’d like your goldfish to interact with, tap twice on the glass and then provide a treat when they start moving toward the object.

Over time, you can make the task more complex by rewarding your goldfish when they touch or nip at the object. Continuing graduating the task until they understand the full trick.

If you're new to the world of goldfish keeping or are experienced but love to learn more, we highly recommend you check out the best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon.The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

From diagnosing illnesses and providing correct treatments to proper nutrition, tank maintenance and water quality advice, this book will help you to ensure your goldfish are happy and to be the best goldfish keeper you can be.



Goldfish are fascinating fish that are far more intelligent than we often give them credit for. They are also social creatures that will enjoy spending time with you, especially when that time together involves food. By training your goldfish, they will not only learn to further associate you with good things, but they’ll also have a more enriched and interesting day-to-day experience in their tank.

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Featured Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock

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