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Training to Eat

Posted By: Mr Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Monday, 11 November 2002, at 11:18 p.m.

I am so proud of myself, and wanted to share a trick. While this post isn't specifically about loaches, I thought this might help others train their loaches to eat processed foods.

I recently posted about a Panaqolus that wouldn't eat ANY food except zucchini, and of course, my best plants.

Gareth expressed concern about the fish surviving well on only zucchini, which I am grateful for, since it got me to thinking about the nutrition of this fish.

When I feed zucchini, I use a rubberband to hold it onto a rock. This Panaqolus always eats from the rock. I tried romaine lettuce, too, which he nibbled on, but he didn't really eat it.

So, after Gareth's post, I started putting a small piece of Hikari Algae Wafer on top of the zucchini. The first time I did this, he ate all the zucchini around the wafer, and left. B@st@rd!

So, I started inserting pieces into the zucchini, like seeds. I was never really sure if he actually ate them or not, because we started leaving the zucchini one he got down to a certain point.

Today, I was walking by the tank shortly after feeding, and did a Looney Tunes double-take. I must've looked like Elmer Fudd in a cartoon, as I screeched to halt and backed up. Lo and behold, the Panaqolus was mouthing an Algae Wafer! He didn't eat much, but at least he wasn't grossing out over it, like he used to. I mean it, the first time he encountered an Algae Wafer, he attacked it when it hit the gravel, but as soon as he realized it wasn't real food, he spit it out and took off, never attacking a falling Algae Wafer ever again.

Tonight, I again placed a small wafer piece on top of his usual zucchini fare. He ate some zucchini and actually seemed to rasp some of the wafer. My bristle-nose was nearby munching on his own wafer, when all of a sudden the Panaqolus attacked him and chased him off. The Panaqolus didn't eat the wafer the bristle-nose left behind, but I take this as a good sign that the Panaqolus is now at least regarding the wafers as food. I'm sure it won't be long until he starts eating the wafers, after all, he is rasping at them, and defending them like his precious zucchini.

So, it seems to me that if you condition a fish to eat from a container like a basket, or a rock in this particular case, you can teach a fish that whatever is put in, or on, the container is food. For those of you who can't seem to get a fish to eat a variety of foods, a similar setup might indeed help you resolve the problem.


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