Fishes don’t feel pain, they only fight for life

Fishes have no sensations for pain, Research (Credit: have found that fishes don’t feel pain.

This research has been published online in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

Whether fishes feel pain or not was a debate for years between the scientists. In 2003, scientists pointed that fishes feel pain.

Scientists wrote,

We review studies claiming that fish feel pain and find deficiencies in the methods used for pain identification, particularly for distinguishing unconscious detection of injurious stimuli (nociception) from conscious pain. Results were also frequently misinterpreted and not replicable, so claims that fish feel pain remain unsubstantiated.

In order to remove the doubt, they perform the study on rainbow trout fish.

According to the scientists, fishes have no proper brain system or enough sensory receptors in the nerve cells that is why they don’t experience pain or suffering. When we see them hooked, they are not actually feeling pain or suffering but only fighting for their lives.

Scientists are of the opinion that fishes have “little effect” from the injuries and toxins that have great effect on human beings.

“In spite of large injections of acid or bee venom, that would cause severe pain to a human, the trout showed remarkably little effect,” Jim Rose, professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wisconsin, who led the project, said.

Researchers found that the fishes resume normal activity within minutes of surgical procedures as well as after being caught and released back into the water.

“It is highly improbable that fish can experience pain,” Rose said.

“We are not diminishing the importance of welfare considerations for fish, but we do reject the view that mental welfare is a legitimate concern,” Rose added.

Some people believe that fish may not scream out but they still have senses for painful stimuli.

“Fish don’t scream in pain but they exhibit other pronounced reactions to painful stimuli. To claim otherwise is as sound as arguing the Earth is flat,” Ben Williamson, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said.

Scientists wrote,

We evaluate recent claims for consciousness in fishes, but find these claims lack adequate supporting evidence, neurological feasibility, or the likelihood that consciousness would be adaptive. Even if fishes were conscious, it is unwarranted to assume that they possess a human-like capacity for pain. Overall, the behavioral and neurobiological evidence reviewed shows fish responses to nociceptive stimuli are limited and fishes are unlikely to experience pain.


Rose, J., Arlinghaus, R., Cooke, S., Diggles, B., Sawynok, W., Stevens, E., & Wynne, C. (2012). Can fish really feel pain? Fish and Fisheries DOI: 10.1111/faf.12010

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