Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Can you really teach goldfish to do synchronised swimming? [Guardian]


Got wind from this from an old friend’s post on Facebook, thanks Jin San. This report has a vital flaw however, as the video link provided was a video posted on youtube of a Japanese variety program and not the Chinese Lunar New Year Opening Gala this year. Nevertheless, the video posted revealed a few useful things – two comments on the youtube link provided in this article provides an insight…

If it was done by magnets, wouldn’t the magnets in the fish try to stick to the magnet under the table, making them drag along the bottom of the tank? They don’t look like they are sliding on the bottom of the tank. not2dayshaq

And a contrasting view – I think magnets too on race tracks underneath, the lines the fish follow are really perfect and the speed of travel is so steady and every time they make a sharp turn you can see them brace themselves and try to cope with the fact that their body has been forceably turned. interuniversal321

I’ve had a look at the real video (see below – and am inclined to say the goldfish look sufficiently distressed). Have a look at the actual video here and form your own opinion –

– – –

Can you really teach goldfish to do synchronised swimming?
A recent glimpse of formation goldfish on Chinese TV has outraged animal rights activists who suspect it’s all done with magnets
Tom Meltzer
Source – Guardian, published February 16, 2011

Magician Fu Yandong directs goldfish during a New Year’s Eve television show in Beijing. Photograph: AP

Of their own volition, in perfect unison, six goldfish line up in a military formation and swim laps around a tank of water. This was the spectacle that greeted and astonished hundreds of millions of viewers at the opening gala of China‘s lunar new year festival earlier this month. Animal rights activists were less amazed.

Convinced that the trick must rely on magnets in the fish’s stomachs, a coalition of 53 groups sent a letter to Chinese broadcaster CCTV asking them to prevent magician Fu Yandong performing it again at tonight’s closing ceremony. Fu has denied the accusation of animal cruelty, telling one news programme: “If I used magnets, the fish would stick together.” So how does he do it?

At Davenports Magic, the world’s oldest family-run magic shop, proprietor Betty Davenport is perplexed. “I’ve been buying and selling magic since 1948. I know most of the tricks, including how they’re done. I have not heard of that one. There’s no magic that I know of that is similar to that at all.”

Her best guess is that the goldfish are fake. “They could be imitation, and if they were handed out for inspection they could be exchanging the imitation ones for real ones.”

In front of hundreds of millions of viewers, I somehow doubt fake goldfish would cut the mustard. Other magicians I talk to agree that fake goldfish are out of the question, but hint at other possibilities besides magnets. Finally, on condition of strict anonymity, one expert agrees to explain it.

“Normally,” he says, “if it’s two fish doing the swimming thing it’s actually just a mirror in the water.” With six, however, there can be only one explanation: the campaigners are right. “It’s magnets. What they’ve done is probably coated their food in iron filings and it’s either a machine or a guy under the table holding magnets. The giveaway is how shallow the water is. If the tank was full all the way to the top, the magnet wouldn’t be strong enough. As cruel as it sounds, he’s literally just dragging them around.”

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Filed under: Beijing OIympics, Chinese New Year, Communications, Culture, Influence, Lifestyle, Media, Social, Video

One Response

  1. Fuz says:

    He said is not magnets, else the fishes will all stick together.
    But if he had individual magnets at the bottom for each fish, perhaps it is less likely for the fishes to aggregate together.
    Is kinda strange for the whistle to move too!

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