In the pool of China's Tanhua Temple, which is located in the Gold Horse Mountain area, at the eastern outskirts of Kunming City, the hybrid offspring of Japanese carp and Amazon fish have learned, after a year of training, to suck feed from bottles of powdered milk.
Known as "the flower city of the southern frontier," the temple and its beautiful landscape have attracted many tourists over the course of the last three centuries. Now however, almost as many people come to watch the fish feed.
Watching these fish vie for supremacy over an available nipple is reminiscent of watching puppies or kittens and even human babies grapple at their mothers' breast. The process is an amazing commentary on the universality of the needs of all living creatures, great and small.
The beautiful carp attract many to the temple pool, and for almost a year, tourists have been able to participate in the feeding process and purchase special bottles filled with liquid fish food for 5 yuan (67 cents).
The idea has caught on throughout aquariums in China and others have followed suit.
"All my colleagues are doing it. I started to test feed the carps with milk three months ago…I visited a carp farm, and found they fed the fish with powdered milk from a bottle, and the carp were strong and active. It took my fish a little while to get used to it but now they love the new feed. As soon as they see me coming over with the bottle they fight…to suck on the teat," says Feng, who owns the Hanzhou Aquarium in Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province.
Watching these fish feed has captured the attention of all who come to visit the temple pool. It is a small wonder of its own kind and an almost humbling experience to see the communication on the most primeval level between humanity and the animal kingdom.
The bonds may be undeniable but it is still a good thing that carp, although beautiful, are not the most tasty fare for dinner tonight.