They can't fetch the paper or curl up in your lap yet, but a Pittsburgh-area researcher may have found a way to make pet fish more interesting.
Dean Pomerleau, whose day job involves perfecting automotive crash-avoidance technology, and his young son Kyle claim to have trained goldfish, cichlids and Siamese fighting fish to swim though hoops, shoot baskets, dunk balls and score touchdowns.
"With the correct tools and the basic promise of a food reward, fish can very quickly learn complex tricks — like the limbo, slalom or playing fetch. Now people in the market for a dog might want to consider a fish instead," Dean Pomerleau said in a press release.
On his Fish School Web site, the elder Pomerleau says the idea came to him when Kyle won two goldfish at a school fair.
"After watching them for a couple weeks, we came to suspect that there was more going on in their little brains then most people give them credit for," he writes. "On a whim, we decided to see if we could train them to do tricks using techniques commonly used to train dolphins, dogs, and circus animals."
Apparently it worked, because the family has teamed up with R2 Solutions, a Los Angeles aquarium-accessory manufacturer, to market what they call the R2 Fish School Kit — "everything you will need to teach your fish amazing tricks."
Now if only they can train cats to clean their own litterboxes.