Do Fish Have Feelings?

Do Fish Have Feelings


The debate regarding “do fish have feelings” or not is ages old. Whether these meek and tender animals have feelings or not is still a matter of confusion for many of us. But as per recent studies, fishes do have feelings. It’s only that, unlike us, they do not bear any facial expression displaying their emotion.

But when it comes to the question, do fish have feelings, the answer is undoubted yes. Fishes do have certain kinds of feelings, but they are not similar to us. Though their brain functions are not much improved, they have prominent feelings of pain, fear, shyness, and anxiety.


Do fish have feelings? 


Are you wondering, do fish have feelings or not? Well, then, let us tell you a fun fact. Fishes are more likely to experience emotions than we can even think of.

Studies say that fishes have a tiny and simple brain that lacks the cerebral cortex. But the cerebral cortex is the most crucial organ in mammals used for a higher level of information processing.

Hence, many argue that fishes show minimal capacity for learning and memorizing. They have a very simple and behavioral repertoire, unlike us.

However, many researchers disagree with the above-said information. A group of scientists ardently think that fishes can also have emotions and consciousness.

Indeed, a fish’s brain is different from a mammal’s, but it does have some unique capabilities.

It has various structures with a similar evolutionary origin to that of mammals’ brains. And these structures can play a key role in generating emotions in fishes.

Also, it might support learning. In case these brain areas in a fish get damaged, you can see various behavioral effects in them.

Besides, the reckoned biologist Victoria Braithwaite, in her book “Do Fish Feel Pain?” has clearly mentioned that “there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals.”

Yes, indeed, you cannot find fishes screaming audibly when they feel pain. But their behavior can make you know clearly understand that they are dealing with pain or suffering.

Neurobiologists have also discovered that fishes have a nervous system. This nervous system can respond and comprehend pain.

Fishes have neurotransmitters, i.e., endorphins, which relieve suffering to a certain extent. Their nervous system can produce these painkillers on their own, making it easier for them to deal with the pain.

Also, a study by the Queen’s University Belfast has proved that fishes can quickly learn to avoid pain sensations. Also, researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada have found that fishes can feel fear while they are chased. So, can you imagine what terrific conditions fishes go through when we do fishing?


Do fish have feelings like humans? 


It is difficult to say whether the feelings of fishes are as robust and clear as humans, but the fact is that they do have feelings, which is undeniable.

Fish do feel pain, which can be different in its way from the kind of pain we humans feel. At the anatomical level, fishes have neurons called nociceptors. It can easily sense harmful conditions like exposure to caustic chemicals, high pressure, and scorching high temperatures.

Also, they can feel a frightening sensation when they come in contact with any unknown object or when they are chased. You can even witness this when you tap your thumb against the aquarium wall or dump your hands into the water to pick the fish up.


Do fish feel pain when they get hooked? 


Does this question often come to your mind while your friend or relative goes fishing or when you see fish being hooked for display in fish shops for commercial purposes? Well, yes, they do feel the pain when you hook them up.

Their feeling of pain while getting hooked is now a proven fact. Fish’s brains are not as complex as ours, making them incapable of expressing their feelings loudly. But you can easily find them suffering from pain when you notice the fish wiggling rapidly on being hooked. It is much of a reaction to their pain.

Though some people argue that it is their unconscious reflex, you can easily understand their pain by looking at the poor creature. Their relentless jumping and fast, aggressive movements clearly portray that the fish is suffering from some kind of pain.


Do fish feel sadness? 


Well, you already know that fishes do have feelings. In fact, they have got this ability after evolving for a million years. But do you think that the feeling is strong enough to make them feel sad? This can be a concern for many curious minds.

But let us tell you that the feeling of sadness is not much clear in them. However, fishes do feel anxious when they are not kept in a familiar and suitable environment. For example, many fishes prefer to live together in a shoal. But if you try to separate them from their school, you will find them having an unhappy time in your tank. This sadness can also make them aggressive.


Do fish cry? 


Though your query of “do fish have feelings” has a positive answer, it is pretty difficult to say if they cry or not. Fishes usually lack various parts of the brain, which makes them different from humans. On the other hand, there is also not many pieces of evidence about whether they engage in crying or not.

Webster thinks fishes certainly cannot produce tears. Besides, as their eyes get bathed constantly in the water, you can hardly find it out even if they cry. And on land, they do not get much time to cry; before that, they die out of suffocation!


Do fish feel lonely?


Are you wondering, do fish feel lonely or not? Well, that is entirely dependent on the fish type. For example, some fishes prefer to stay in the form of a school. For such fishes, it may become difficult enough to feel cheerful if you are keeping them separately.

If schooling fishes are kept alone, they will feel something similar to loneliness, which you can easily spot out from their behavior. Thus, while petting fishes in your home aquarium, it is typically recommended to keep them in a pair so that it can offer them companionship. However, many fishes tend to become aggressive when kept with tankmates. Hence, they are best kept alone. For such fishes, loneliness is not at all an issue.


Do fish get sad when other fish die? 


Though fishes have some feelings and feel the need for companionship, feeling sad for a fellow fish is unnatural. Fishes do not get sad in case the other fish dies. Yes, they feel some types of emotions, but they definitely cannot have feelings like humans. However, possibilities are also there that they might feel something similar to it.


Do fish like to be petted? 


Do fish like to be pets? Well, you will get a positive answer for this. Fishes do like to be petted. In fact, they love to get loved.

If you caress them regularly, the fish might get used to it and tend to return again and again to get more of it. However, petting a fish is something different from the way you pet a cat or dog.


Do fish love their owners? 


Do you have fish pets in your home? If yes, knowing “do fish love their owners” can be pretty interesting. So, do their feelings have this much intensity that can make them love you?

Well, to your surprise, fishes are capable of recognizing their owners. Fishes build some sense of attachment towards their owners,

which makes them quite friendly with their owners. Many scientists have also found that fishes feel skittish or anxious when a stranger walks into the room. The feeling of love may not be much stronger in them, but they can still recognize you.


Feelings based on the variety of fishes


Well, the matter of feelings can be different for different fish species. So, here is what you need to know about them.


Do betta fish have feelings? 


The small and lovely bettas are pretty intelligent and impressive. Though the brain of a betta fish might not process complex emotions like that of humans, they do exhibit emotional feelings.


Do goldfish have feelings? 


Like any other fish, goldfishes have feelings too. Their feelings might not be as strong and clear as mammals. But you will feel that your goldfish is eventually recognizing you as it has some memory capacity. Also, they exhibit some common fish feelings.


Do jellyfish have feelings? 


Unlike fishes, jellyfish do not have a brain that can render them the senses of feelings. Jellyfish get some sensations when you touch them, but they cannot exhibit any emotion.




Well, fish having feelings is much of a fun idea, but it is pretty evident in them. Indeed, fishes’ emotions may not be as conscious as ours, but it does not mean that their feelings are non-existent.

Instead, you can easily find them react in different ways as per the different feelings they experience at a time. Also, the sense of pain and suffering is relatively stronger in them, just like us.