Perhaps it never occurred to you to ask this question but the answer, to the best of my knowledge, is no. Fish do not play golf. The question arose yesterday in my Science lesson with Year 7 and was in response to some interesting commotion taking place in the fish tank at the back of the lab.

First, let me tell you a little about the fish tank. It is about four feet long and has one pretty sizeable fish in there, a species of pleco. The pleco is one of a small number of common aquarium fish and I understand that our one is Hypostomus plecostomus, a nocturnal catfish which is native to South America but has been widely introduced elsewhere.There is also a bunch of goldfish which found a refuge in my tank when the school pond was drained for refurbishment. The pleco must be about a foot long and a lot of people have questioned whether it is a good idea to have such a big fish in a relatively small tank. 

This kind of pleco is beautifully camouflaged and his habit is to sit still for hours on end. You could chuck him into Lake Geneva and he would just settle down somewhere and hardly budge. So I think it is okay for him to live where he does. The same would not be true of some other fish of a similar size with a bit more “get up and go.”

But every now again the pleco takes it into his mind to have a bit of a flap and the pebbles go flying everywhere and a modest wave can be set into motion. At times like this all learning stops (if any was taking place) and everyone just looks over at the tank and says “Jesus! what the hell was that?”

Anyway yesterday the pleco was up to his old tricks and interrupted his protracted inactivity with a bit of digging around. One of the kids spotted this and said “hey Sir. I think he´s digging up some eggs!” or some such thing. This became just the first of a number of suggestions made by the kids to account for the sudden animated outburst.

In the end I settled things by earnestly stating in my most authoritative voice “No. It´s just getting the little golf ball out of the hole.”

I sometimes entertain myself in these lessons by making outrageously silly statements and the golfing fish idea was right up with the daftest so I was delighted that someone was crazy enough to take it seriously.

One of the interesting things about Year 7 kids is just how gullible they are. Their ability to discern fact from fiction is about on a par with that of the pleco himself. One of the girls asked me seriously if fish really do play golf and whether he was really taking a golf ball out of a little hole.

So let´s be clear about this. Plecos do NOT play golf. But, as for the goldfish, they have little time for golf but are partial to the occasional game of tennis.

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This is the fella we have in our tank. I “stole” this image from this source: