back to article Storm brews over Chinese synchronised goldfish

Chinese animal rights activists are up in arms over an impressive synchronised goldfish magic trick, due to hit TV screens tomorrow in one of the variety programmes marking the end of the new year holiday. According to the BBC, magician Fu Yandong releases half a dozen goldfish into a shallow tank, and "somehow gets them to …


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  1. amanfromearth

    The vid is here

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Hmm looks like magnets to me

      Fish looked like they were being dragged along at times. I wouldn't be surprised if they were fed ballbearings or something and stuck to magnets under the tank.

    2. Amonynous

      Obviously not swimming

      If you take a look at the Vid a couple of times, it's obvious the fish are not swimming. Neither the body, tail or other fins are moving in such a way as to suggest they are propelling the fish through the water, i.e. fins flapping or body and tail making the wavy side-to-side motion that you would expect.

      As the previous poster suggests, it is clear they are being dragged through the water (no invisible channels given that the fish recross paths previously covered). You couldn't train a pack of dogs to move that 'formation' let alone fish. It's clearly a set of magnets under tank and magnets inside or othewise attached to the fish.

    3. Dave Wallace

      I'ts really very simple...

      They went to school.

  2. F111F

    Fish Whisperer?

    Maybe he just talked the fish through their pain and anguish over their diminished self-worth, and helped them find a collective super-ego in synchronized's what Dr. Phil and Oprah would do...

    Mine's the one with the copy of Oprah magazine in the pocket...

    1. lglethal Silver badge


      He did all that, but unfortunately they forgot it all 3 seconds later. So in the end he went with the magnets...

  3. Joefish

    Chinese 'sychronised' goldfish?

    May I be one among many to point out that your smell chequer is on the blonk...

    1. Jon Wilson


      No, he's just writing in English:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Jon Wilson

        The article's title was originally missing the first n, which is what I thought Joefish was referring to (yes, I know he changed the z to an s as well)

        1. serviceWithASmile


          no, it was the americans who changed the "s" to a "z"

          where's the trollface icon?

          1. John H Woods

            actually no...

            ... try looking in the OED, or Jane Austen, for example. The English changed it to an 's' afterwards, and the Americans kept the 'z' (along with the stupid Month / Day / Year thing).

      2. Naughtyhorse


        would that be a wal-mart dictionary by any chance?


  4. Chris Collins

    golden fish egg

    Having kept goldfish I can say that they are prone to karking it without any external stimulus so I think it's unlikely they'd last long if he was using magnets. You can train goldfish, as seen in mythbusters. It's more likely he did that than risk killing the fish that lay the golden roe. Even if he used fucking magnets, how would that work?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Gold isn't magnetic!

      1. Disco-Legend-Zeke



    2. DrXym Silver badge

      My goldfish died last night

      My 2 year old helpfully tried to feed fishy by tipping an entire pot of fish flakes into his tank. Discovered him dead last night probably after he fatally binged on the food or suffocated in all the soluble crap in the water. An ignominious end and quite saddening. He lived to 6 years which is more than some of his predecessors did. Fish tank will probably go in the attic now.

      1. GettinSadda

        Re: My goldfish died last night

        Didn't they cover this on QI a while back?

        If you overfeed a goldfish it will suffer a condition that leaves it motionless and floating upside down in the tank. After a few days like this it will recover and be OK. Don't flush the fish!

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          This fish was dead

          In my non ichthyologist opinion he was as dead as a doornail. Even a fish who has eaten too much needs to breath. Anyway, it's all a bit academic now given where he ended up.

        2. Mostor Astrakan


          The malicious rumours spread by eco-terrorists about a stealthy trip to the pet shop in those days is vile and evil and should be quashed at its source.

      2. Stuart Halliday

        size matters

        Any goldfish under 10" in length after 2 years of age is a sure sign of ammonia poison and bad husbandry. People often would remark on my goldfish being so big. But sadly Goldfish are difficult animals to rear as they like to eat as they need to grow a lot in the first 2 years of life. So they produce a lot of waste and owners don't realise this.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      It's Magic

      Magic everywhere in this bitch!

  5. Bugs R Us

    As if there aren't bigger problems to deal with

    Big deal, they're just goldfish. Millions of them are flushed down the toilet every year.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Bugs R Us

      Do you think those millions of happy and overeaten sewers fishes are pining for the bowl? You can't compare that to doing nasty tricks with them!

    2. sabroni Silver badge


      and you're just a human, presumably. What's your point? that we should only ever deal with the biggest problem? That putting "it's just a " in front of anything makes it insignificant?

      Maybe this kind of disregard for life is behind some of the bigger problems you think should be dealt with?

      (caveat: I'm not saying the fish trick is cruel, I haven't seen the training methods. But if it was, I would be opposed to it. It's just a trick, after all...)

    3. Jason Togneri

      @ Bugs R Us

      "Millions of them are flushed down the toilet every year."

      Yep. And some of them are even completely dead at the time.

  6. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Correct me if I'm wrong but fish is one of the few animals that you *can't* (or at least, couldn't until very recently) be done for cruelty to. Someone in law told me that once and unless they've changed things since they told me that, I'm inclined to believe it was and still is true. That's not to say it's acceptable, just that there are very few grounds on which to cause this man libellous injury.

    And from the looks of it, it's more likely a trick than electrocuting some fish, like maybe there are invisible glass channels / lines in the tank. I don't see how you'd insert enough magnetism or electricity in such an orderly fashion into a real fish to make it do that in concert with the others and have them split/merge properly. More likely, they aren't real fish that you see at that moment, the fish are influenced by some extremely simple means (something visible to them through the sides of the tank that's moved about, shadows, hand movements, etc.) or are trained to respond to such stimulus. You can train a goldfish. Mythbusters did it and they learned to navigate an obstacle course to get to food via following coloured indicators. What's to say that each fish isn't trained to a particular colour and the various hand-waving / stuff you can't see outside the tank isn't them just following the same urge?

    But guessing that they're being tortured without visible signs of distress? That's pushing it a bit, and it would be *EVEN MORE* difficult to actually make the fish continue swimming, swim against each other, etc. in that way. Unless we're assuming that he implanted a device into every fish that isolates a whole cotchel of muscle-activating reflexes in order to keep the fish swimming, turning etc. If he has, I think a lot of the bio-interface guys would want to talk with him.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    They laughed at me at the academy...

    "Goldfish are small creatures that anyone can easily buy and abuse, or even kill."


    But magnets? As every mad scientist is aware, those wouldn't work at all.

    How about NE555s implanted in those fishbrains? MUAHAHA!

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      Re: something visible to them but not us

      Goldfish have a colour-perception range that leaves ours for dead. They can see down into the high infra-red and well up into the UV ranges. So it is quite plausable they may be using visual cues we can't detect.

      1. Wize


        I thought I saw some red light in the tank. Maybe he is using light. Or it was a reflection off something.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          red dot

          There's definitely two or three red dots visible in the tank at times, especially when his left hand is moving over it

  8. limonovich


    Does anyone else find it funny/ironic that the state television is called CCTV?

    In Communist China, CCTV is watched by you!

  9. Reading Your E-mail


    It does all smell a bit fishy to me....

  10. Syren Baran

    Next trick ...

    ... goldfish with freakin lasers on their heads.

    Dont mess with that guy.

  11. Chris Harrison
    Paris Hilton

    Multiple Universes

    Perhaps he's managed to harness the power of the multiple universe theory and simply picks the one where the goldfish all do exactly as he wants.

    Unfortunatelly he hasn't thought of anything better to do with the power.

    Paris because, we know what she's doing in pretty much all those parrallel universes.

  12. Clive Galway


    Fu dismissed the claim, splendidly insisting that if he used magnets "the fish would stick together".

    Not if each magnet was so weak that it did not attract the ones to each side.

    Notice how close the fish are to the bottom and that it is a smooth bit of plastic.

    Basically, each fish is moved with a magnet under the bottom of the tank. When moved to the side, they will naturally turn to face the direction of movement. Either that or two magnets per fish to allow rotation as well as translation.

  13. Little Me


    the fins don't move, so how are they moving? watching the video magnets look likely.. especially the one that is not going straight...

  14. Version 1.0 Silver badge


    I'll have mine poached please

  15. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    It was a video, it must be true

    In other news:

    There is a big ring in Cheyenne mountain that you can walk through to go to other planets.

    When children sit on old-fashioned brooms, they can fly...

  16. Ian Ferguson


    It's gotta be magnets. Fish stomachs bulge out their bases when full; that tank is shallow enough for them to be brushing along the bottom.

    Goldfish are greedy buggers and I'd not be surprised at them chomping down on magnetic filings along with the rest of their food. Not sure if they could pass them afterwards - their simplistic digestive systems get blocked very easily. My guess is he uses a new batch each time.

    To be honest though, much worse things happen to animals in China, I'm amazed there's an outcry. It might be because goldfish are practically the national animal (along with songbirds. Most Chinese couldn't give a fuck about pandas).

    Interestingly, the fish don't look upset at all by the treatment. I've kept goldfish for decades, I reckon I can spot a distressed fish; these don't look too bothered. Maybe having a full tummy keeps them happy...

  17. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I remember,

    Per Google and

    Comedian and writer Barry Cryer recalls the story of the tap-dancing duck act in which every night a world-weary mallard performed on a cake tin – until one night when the duck just stood there cleaning its feathers.

    “What happened?” said the theatre manager. The duck’s trainer shrugged: “The candle went out.”

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      The 25-Cent...

      ...dancing chicken was hotplate trained each time somebody put in a quarter.

      I have not visited the American south lately, but imagine they are no longer PC.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They are not live gold fish but cleverly constructed artificial gold fish controlled with magnets.

  19. Dave Murray


    They're not goldfish, they're dragons. While they were in human form he asked them to change to goldfish and do the trick. No abuse required.

    If you don't believe me you'll be sorry when they cause stealth rain to follow you around!

  20. JaitcH

    Get your very own goldfish in your nearest Chinatown and they don't need feeding!

    Gold fish represent luck or wealth to the Chinese which is you find ponds filled with them in HongKong at the race courses, although I think those might actually be carp.

    Both the the Chinese and Vietnamese hold gold fish to bring good fortune to business and many offices boast magnificent tanks of fish.

    There is a problem, however, the need both feeding and cleaning.

    The ever enterprising Chinese came up with the solution - man-made (as in artificial) 'gold fish' that are motivated by magnetic fields. In the beginning simple motions satisfied the purchasers but as the years passed all manner of improvements have been achieved including synchronisation of movement.

    And, best of all, they don't need food!

  21. the-phil

    Curious... Speculations and allegations?

    Is the torture all speculation and allegations?

    I think the really cruel part was when he pushed the larger fish through the glass to get them into the large fish tank.. Oh wait that was a magic trick wasn't it?

    What if he had a string attached to the fishies, _without a fishhook_, is that cruel and unusual? I'm required to keep my dog on a leash!

    Seriously people this guys _reputation as a fish trainer_ is on the line!!!

    Its a good thing TV stations will stop airing this clip because someone cried wolf. Better yet we should burn the magician cause its witchcraft!

  22. Anonymous John

    The title is required, and must contain synchronised letters and/or digits.

    Where does this leave the synchronised swimming events in the 2012 Olympics?

  23. Stuart Halliday

    CG duh

    I would have thought from one look at the video that it is obvious it is computer generated.

    Can't be many engineers here as they would tell you magnets can't work over that distance from the tank floor to the animal and the fish would be able to ignore it any way.

    This video is years old and it was declared a hoax back then...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    PETC will be after him

    Yes, it's People Eating Tasty Fish

  25. dnlvry


    Watch the whistle, it moves towards the tanks as he puts it down - that's gotta be magnets surely?

  26. Haku

    Robotic fish

    Aside from magnets, the only other logical explanation is that they're mechanical, they showcased a robot goldfish on BBC2 many years ago on that documentary series Red Dwarf...

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