• Smart Fish

    Australian biologist says years of evidence show that fish can perform various tasks, have great memories and may feel pain

    Most people tend to think of fish as food at the table or as pets in the tank, but an Australian researcher says they are actually complex and intelligent creatures that, like humans, also feel pain.


    Whether fish can feel pain has always been a subject of considerable scientific debate. A 2003 study found that rainbow trout responded to morphine as an analgesic. But a major study in 2013 (see: Do fish feel pain? Debate continues) concluded that fish do not feel pain like humans, ie as a conscious emotional response.

    Although scientists can not give a definitive answer on the level of consciousness of any nonhuman vertebrate. Brown said in a statement, the ample evidence of fish sophistication  and perception of behavioral and cognitive pain suggests that Best practice would be to lend to fish of the same level of protection as any other vertebrate. ”

    This, of course, has implications for the global fishing industry. Not to mention Sea World and Long John Silver.

    But Brown is prepared for that, arguing that we should “include fish in our ‘moral circle’ and give them the protection they deserve.”

    Some smartest species of fish include:

    • Rainbow fish
    • Goby fish
    • Salmon
    • Grouper
    • The black-spotted tuskfish

    Here are some highlights from the research:

    • Fish can perform multiple complex tasks simultaneously.
    • Fish can be trained to recall the location of objects
    • Fish have been shown to have have excellent long-term memories
    • Fish can have complex societies
    • Fish can use tools to perform certain tasks such as foraging and hunting.
    • Fish have been known to take care of their young.

    Why have we always thought that the fish were nothing more than the simpletons of the sea? The theory is because we are terrestrial animals and we rarely get in touch with them, other than during diving, for example, or at the end of a hook or trawl.