How to Teach a Fish to Swim Through a Hoop or Tunnel

Swimming through hoops and tunnels are great starting tricks once your fish knows how to follow a target stick. Hoops and tunnels are fairly basic, but they are simple to teach and are good tricks for building up confidence for more challenging tricks in the future. You can make your own hoop and tunnel obstacles for this trick by visiting the links below.

For this trick, you will need…

  • Your fish
  • Food that your fish likes (can be their regular food)
  • Target stick
  • 1 Large hoop, 1 smaller hoop
  • At least 1 shorter tunnel and 1 medium length or longer tunnel
  • A stand to attach the hoop and tunnel

How to Teach Your Fish to Go Through a Hoop or Tunnel

Part 1 – Hoop Trick

Step 1

Start with a hoop much larger than your fish, and place it close to the surface. Guide the fish through with a target stick and reward. Practice this a few times.

Step 2

Gradually move the hoop lower in the tank and continue to guide your fish through the hoop with a target stick.

Step 3

Start to fade out the target stick by waiting until the fish swims up behind the hoop and then using the target stick to guide the fish the rest of the way through.

Step 4

Practice the previous step several times, then try waiting until the fish goes all the way through the hoop without the target stick and reward.

If the fish is still hesitant to go through on their own, go back a step and practice a bit longer.

Step 5

Once the fish will consistently swim through the hoop without any guidance from the target stick, you can switch to a smaller hoop.

Repeat the same steps again for this new hoop (they should progress through these steps a lot quicker the second time!)

Part 2 – Tunnel Trick

Step 1

Start with a really short (approximately an inch long) tunnel. Guide the fish through with the target stick a handful of times.

Step 2

Next, try a longer tunnel and follow steps 1-5 for the hoop trick above.

Additional Hoop and Tunnel Tricks

If you want to add an extra twist to the hoop and/or tunnel trick after your fish learns the basic versions, try turning the obstacles upright and teach your fish to swim through them vertically.

Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick

  • If your fish is very slow at going through the hoop or doesn’t seem to be getting it, go back a step and keep practicing. It can sometimes take several repetitions before they get the hang of the trick.
  • Always keep your sessions short (under 5 minutes) to avoid your fish losing interest or being overfed. Short, daily sessions are best for trick training.