A chubby merman who performs at an aquarium in China has become an overnight online sensation thanks to his hilarious antics.

Several online videos have amassed millions of views showing the topless man, decked out in a floral print mermaid tail, pinching and shaking his belly painted with fake abdominal muscles while making funny faces and heart gestures with his hands to visitors.

His performance style amused visitors to the Changchun Zhongtai Ocean World in northeastern China’s Jilin province, as well as many other people online.

The man, whose name was not disclosed, said he began working as a part-time merman while the regular female performers were on leave during the Spring Festival holiday in February.

The self-deprecating merman mocks himself by pinching his ample belly. Photo: The Paper

He said he had worked in another positions in the aquarium, and after going viral, he was promoted to full-time merman, on what he said was irresistible pay.

He admitted that he was so chubby there was no suitable outfit for him, and the aquarium had to make a tail using a famous fabric design that it uses to adorn its penguins in adorable waistcoats.

The style was created by a group of Shanghai designers in the 1950s and combines traditional flora and phoenix patterns from the Yangtze River Delta area, which covers nine provinces from the east to the west of the country.

It rose to fame in the 1990s thanks to comedians from northeastern China who wore it on national television shows.

The design’s iconic red and green colours are also associated with the comedians’ straightforward and humorous characters.

Many Chinese celebrities have dressed in the design on international occasions, one of the most famous being 58-year-old actress, Gong Li, who wore a red qipao featuring the design while winning the Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival in 1992.

Visitors to the aquarium love the man’s underwater antics, which have been viewed millions of times on mainland social media. Photo: The Paper

On mainland social media, many nicknamed the merman “bighead carp” because the species name in Chinese uses the character for “fat”.

Some joked that the merman was a realistic portrayal of deep-water creatures that need blubber to survive a cold climate.

“Perform more and he will have real six-pack abs,” said one online observer on Weibo.

“Thank you for putting on the show, but I will pass, because I already have a husband with a similar figure at home,” another woman quipped.