The Taoist clergy has also adapted the wooden fish into their rituals.
The other is literally in the shape of a fish. It is found suspended in front of the dining hall of a Buddhist monastery. When having breakfast and lunch, the monks beat it to call all monastics and laity to eat.
Suddenly, a big fish swam up. It offered to carry the monk across the river. The fish told the monk that it wanted to atone for a crime committed when it was a human. The fish made a simple request, that on the monk's way to obtain sutras, to ask the Buddha to guide the fish on a method to attain Bodhisattvahood.
The monk agreed to the fish's request and continued his quest for seventeen years. After getting the scriptures, he returned to China via the river, which was flooding again. As the monk worried about how to cross, the fish came back to help. It asked if the monk had made the request to the Buddha. To the monk's dismay, he had forgotten. The fish became furious and splashed the monk, washing him into the river. A passing fisherman saved him from drowning, but unfortunately the sutras had been ruined by the water.
The monk went home, full of anger. Seventeen years of effort wasted! Filled with anger at the fish, he made a wooden effigy of a fish head. When he recalled his adversity, he beat the fish head with a wooden hammer. To his surprise, each time he beat the wooden fish, the fish opened its mouth and vomited a character. He became so happy that, when he had time, he always beat the fish. A few years later, he had got back from the wooden fish's mouth what he had lost to the flood.
When used in the Chinese Orchestra, the wooden fish is often in sets of 5. It is commonly used to convey a solemn and religious feel to a piece. However, it has also been used in fast and lively pieces. An indefinite number of instruments may be used in a piece.