When the word “emotions” is used, the instant perception regarding it is usually about a mental state or psychological feeling. The word “emotions” is associated with human beings in general. Still, if we think about other living creatures that exist in the universe like birds, animals, and plants, we don’t confidently say that either they can feel the emotions like human beings or not.
Fish are aquatic vertebrate animals that cannot survive in the air, unlike other animals. Like all the other creatures, fish also do live in communities and have relations with other fishes. A group of fish that make a community is either called a “school” or a “shoal”. When any creature lives together, they develop strong feelings of emotions towards each other and develop a sense of belonging.
The brain is involved in evoking emotions in any living organism including fish. Different studies related to fish psychology say that fish do have brains and nerves that can sense the environmental changes happening around them. Moreover, they can feel fear and psychological stress.
Do Fish Even Have Emotions or is it Just a Myth?
We being humans can only sense and analyze from the behavioral patterns of the fish whether they possess any kind of emotions or not and can obviously not feel what they exactly go through. The behavioral patterns of the fish according to studies indicate that they not only have emotions but also have unique personalities. So, different fish respond to a situation in different manners as per their own personality traits.
The Difference in School of Thoughts
Interestingly, many schools of thought also believe and hence conclude that fish do not have any emotions, or even if they have emotions, their emotional intelligence is so low that it is okay to completely neglect it.
How Do Fish Show Their Emotions?
We sometimes notice behavioral changes in another person when there is something unusual going on in their mind. That is actually their way of showing emotions that can either be a positive or a negative change. Similarly, fish also show emotions when there is something unusual in their living patterns.
Whether the fish have feelings and emotions or not, all is understood by reading their body language and gestures. Normally, it is believed that fish do perceive three major emotions, i.e., joy, stress, and fear.
Behavior of Fish in joy
Strong analysis skills can figure out when the fish are happy or joyful. The most common gesture they have when they are happy is that they swim actively throughout the water area rather than staying in the same place or area for a longer period of time. Moreover, they eat regularly, actively, and on time.
Behavior of Fish in stress
When the fish are stressed out, they often develop odd and unusual swimming patterns. They stay in the same position and at the same place for a longer period, normally at the bottom near the grass or rocks. These swimming patterns can however also be a result of the physical illness of the fish.
Behavior of Fish in Fear
Another emotion that a fish can experience is the feeling of fear. Researchers have also found that most of the time fish get scared of their own reflection and they are even frightened more when they look at themselves in the mirror. They try to fight themselves and get even more scared when they notice the same actions in the mirror.
Do Fish Have Feelings for Their Owner?
Many people feel curious about whether their pet fish have any feelings or emotions towards them or not. In fact, people who have pet fish like the idea that their pet fish have an emotion of attachment to them. Studies in the past declared the fact that fish do have a shorter memory span and cannot recognize people for long but some latest studies denied the fact and stated that some species of fish do have long memory span too and recognize their owners.
Whether the fish recognize and have feelings for their owners also depends on the species of the fish. Some scientists at the University of Oxford and the University of Queensland conducted a study to know the memory span of fish by experimenting with a trick on the archerfish. They concluded after performing some tests that fish do recognize people for months. Hence, we could also assume that it is more likely that pet fish have feelings for their owners.
Does a Fish Feel Pain When Hooked?
Pain is perceived and felt through the brain and every living thing can feel the pain when any physical injury happens to them. Similarly, fish can also feel pain when they are hooked as they possess the necessary biological organs that make the fish sense painful stimulation.
Although we human beings cannot feel exactly what fish do and can only analyze it by their body language, the majority of the studies and schools of thought believe that fish do experience emotions like other living things on the planet. The emotions that a fish possibly possesses are the feeling of joy, fear, and stress.