BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese magician has sparked outrage from animal rights groups with a trick in which he gets goldfish to swim in sync, prompting China's state broadcaster to cancel an encore performance Thursday.

However, a separate regional broadcaster said magician Fu Yandong would perform the controversial trick again on Thursday night -- and reveal its secret so as to silence his critics.

Fu dazzled audiences two weeks ago with the trick and had planned a repeat performance Thursday on a Lunar New Year holiday show on China Central Television (CCTV).

A CCTV spokeswoman told AFP he would not perform on the show, declining to give further details.

Animal rights activists cried foul over the stunt, saying Fu had likely fed the fish magnets -- or implanted them in the fish -- so they could be dragged around their tank from underneath.

They said the trick amounted to animal cruelty.

Fu's agent Liang Ming also was quoted by the China Daily saying he would not perform the trick.

The CCTV gala marks the end of the Lantern Festival, which signifies the conclusion of China's roughly two-week Lunar New Year holiday, the nation's biggest and most important festival.

Fu had been billed as one of the highlights of the Lantern Festival show.