Do Fish Feel Pain? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-01-2015, 08:59 AM
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Do Fish Feel Pain?


Do fish feel pain? Fish are often relegated to a somewhat sub-animal status. They are hared to related to and not as emotionally expressive as other animals. But does this mean they don’t feel? In this video, we take a hard look at the science and the heated debate within the scientific community over whether fish can, in fact, feel pain.

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Last edited by Capstan; 06-03-2015 at 09:18 AM.
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#2 Old 04-01-2015, 06:00 PM
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I remember years ago when I was about 8 years old, maybe younger. I was with my parents vacationing on some lake in Michigan. I was wading in the shallow water and picking up little green snail shells and putting them on the nearby dock to collect for later. Or so I thought. I waded out a ways and forgot about the dock for a few minutes, then waded back over only to find that the snails had moved a good distance down the dock, all in a group together. It really shocked me! I remember picking them up and looking underneath and seeing little suction cups and realizing that these were living beings and they were trying to get away or return to the water. I carefully put them all back in the water. That experience really had a profound impact on me. It didn't make me vegetarian back then, but it planted a seed in making me think more about the wild creatures under the water and how vastly different they were from me and yet not so different in their basic needs.

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#3 Old 04-02-2015, 07:43 AM
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You always tell the most beautiful stories.
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#4 Old 04-02-2015, 04:53 PM
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You always tell the most beautiful stories.
Aw, thank you!

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#5 Old 04-02-2015, 05:22 PM
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I remember years ago when I was about 8 years old, maybe younger. I was with my parents vacationing on some lake in Michigan. I was wading in the shallow water and picking up little green snail shells and putting them on the nearby dock to collect for later. Or so I thought. I waded out a ways and forgot about the dock for a few minutes, then waded back over only to find that the snails had moved a good distance down the dock, all in a group together. It really shocked me! I remember picking them up and looking underneath and seeing little suction cups and realizing that these were living beings and they were trying to get away or return to the water. I carefully put them all back in the water. That experience really had a profound impact on me. It didn't make me vegetarian back then, but it planted a seed in making me think more about the wild creatures under the water and how vastly different they were from me and yet not so different in their basic needs.
That was a great share.

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#6 Old 04-03-2015, 05:34 AM
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I remember years ago when I was about 8 years old, maybe younger. I was with my parents vacationing on some lake in Michigan. I was wading in the shallow water and picking up little green snail shells and putting them on the nearby dock to collect for later. Or so I thought. I waded out a ways and forgot about the dock for a few minutes, then waded back over only to find that the snails had moved a good distance down the dock, all in a group together. It really shocked me! I remember picking them up and looking underneath and seeing little suction cups and realizing that these were living beings and they were trying to get away or return to the water. I carefully put them all back in the water. That experience really had a profound impact on me. It didn't make me vegetarian back then, but it planted a seed in making me think more about the wild creatures under the water and how vastly different they were from me and yet not so different in their basic needs.
that's such a beautiful and touching story- thank you for sharing!

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#7 Old 05-04-2015, 11:09 AM
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if your going to eat fish you should at least give hi the dignity of killing him your self then you will under stand that yes he feels pain and no hes not cool with you killing him evan if you ask him first or do some wichy poo prayer
most meat eater have never killed anything
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#8 Old 05-22-2015, 11:58 AM
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I honestly prefer ignorant non vegans over cold blooded killers
At least if they don't know any better, they can learn and maybe even change. If someone just doesn't care, there's not much you can do.
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#9 Old 05-22-2015, 02:19 PM
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Nice video Emily! I believe that fish can feel pain and even have personalities. When I was really young before I was vegan, I had a pet goldfish and I believe he felt pain and even had a personality. I loved him a lot and he lived really long. I still kind of miss him.
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#10 Old 05-22-2015, 02:38 PM
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I'm quite sure they feel pain. I don;t have headphones with me at the moment and so I can't watch the video; maybe BSV has already touched on this point... but I've kept fish in aquaria, including 4 9-year-old goldfish I have now who were adopted from my co-worker's koi pond. I have seen evidence of both memory and awareness/anticipation in fish.

Peasant (1963-1972) and Fluffy (1970s?-1982- I think of you as 'Ambrose' now)- Your spirits outshone some humans I have known. Be happy forever.
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#11 Old 05-22-2015, 02:48 PM
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I'm quite sure they feel pain. ... but I've kept fish in aquaria, including 4 9-year-old goldfish I have now who were adopted from my co-worker's koi pond. I have seen evidence of both memory and awareness/anticipation in fish.
I have also.
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#12 Old 06-18-2015, 07:54 PM
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I am 100% sure that fish feel pain. They are also capable of higher cognitive functions and can interact socially with one another. People don't give them enough credit...
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#13 Old 06-19-2015, 04:31 PM
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I am 100% sure that fish feel pain. They are also capable of higher cognitive functions and can interact socially with one another. People don't give them enough credit...
true that.

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#14 Old 08-04-2015, 07:51 PM
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I just wanted to add that I feel that many omnis consider the value of the life of a fish to be particularly low. I do hear omnis saying that they want to reduce "red meat" intake (meaning they want to eat less mammalian flesh), yet they have no qualms eating chicken or particularly fish. Although I am glad that they wish to eat less mammalian flesh I am always extremely disappointed that the lives of chickens/ fish are regarded as being so worthless.

Perhaps learning about these animal's capabilities would help to dissuade people from eating them. The only thing is I have often pointed out the capabilities of these animals to many people and it often appears to fall on deaf ears. I am starting to think more and more that a good percentage of people are incapable of change for whatever reason. I think that oftentimes they will only seek change if they themselves are personally affected and have to change in order to help/ better themselves. This could be a fundamental human trait, i.e. looking out for number one, that is evolutionarily conserved - "The Selfish Gene" springs to mind.

Anyway at least some people are altruistic. Who knows, maybe in time humans will evolve a greater sense of biological altruism. Or if not, they may be forced to change their ways in order to survive in the face of environmental/ ecological catastrophe.

Why is the suffering and killing of animals wrong? Because the value of a sentient organism's life is priceless. They are their own beings and have their own lives and loves. They have higher emotions and thought processes. Their minds are different from ours in degree, not kind - meaning that fundamentally there are critical similarities.
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#15 Old 08-04-2015, 09:34 PM
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***GRAPHIC WARNING about my below comment***

My dad is a hunter and fisher. Thankfully, he didn't really drag me hunting very many times (due to me crying hysterically and "embarrassing" him in front of his buddies), but he did drag me fishing whether I liked it or not when I was a really young child. He thought it would be "good for me". I hated it long before I was a vegetarian. I just felt so bad for the fish and he worms. To start with, even the little worms he used as bait would writhe in pain when he stuck the hook through them. The fish were clearly (always) stressed when they came up, got hooked on a stringer, then thrown in a ice chest of water until we got home. You could see in their eyes that they were living beings, and they were hurt and frightened and suffering greatly. But what I will NEVER forget is when he had to kill the ones that survived the drive home in that ice chest- he did so by smacking them in the head with a hammer, sometimes several times before they stopped flopping around. THEY FELT PAIN, they saw with their eyes that hammer coming. At least he attempted to put them out of their misery, unlike some of his buddies who would just gut the poor things alive.

Anyone who has ever been fishing and still thinks they can't feel pain is lying to themselves to justify their own sadistic actions because it's plain as day, so obvious even a CHILD can see it. They are LIVING BEINGS, and therefore CAN FEEL PAIN. Some people don't care about animal suffering, but they HAVE to realize the animals suffer. I think that a lot of people who hold this opinion that fish can't feel pain have never been fishing though. They have no comprehension of seeing the animal fight for it's life or the fear in it's eyes. I think that is one of the biggest issues with all forms of meat, there is a huge disconnect because people never have to see it and never have to take a life themselves.

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#16 Old 08-05-2015, 05:27 AM
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I think that a lot of people who hold this opinion that fish can't feel pain have never been fishing though. They have no comprehension of seeing the animal fight for it's life or the fear in it's eyes.
I think you are far too optimistic about people in general. Fish don't wear a recognizable facial expression of fear which is excuse enough for some people, and simultaneously, people are content interpret expressions where none exist.

I present to you Exhibit A:

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Anyone who cannot see the expression of pure joy on these dogs faces obviously does not know dogs very well:


This is also the same person who oh-so-politely corrected my definition of vegetarian:

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There are actually various forms of vegetarian diets. "Pescatarian" refers to a diet excluding all types of meat with the exception of fish.
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#17 Old 08-05-2015, 05:25 PM
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^^^ Ah yes the good old "Pescatarians are vegetarians," argument
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#18 Old 08-05-2015, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Kiwibird08 View Post
***GRAPHIC WARNING about my below comment***

My dad is a hunter and fisher. Thankfully, he didn't really drag me hunting very many times (due to me crying hysterically and "embarrassing" him in front of his buddies), but he did drag me fishing whether I liked it or not when I was a really young child. He thought it would be "good for me". I hated it long before I was a vegetarian. I just felt so bad for the fish and he worms. To start with, even the little worms he used as bait would writhe in pain when he stuck the hook through them. The fish were clearly (always) stressed when they came up, got hooked on a stringer, then thrown in a ice chest of water until we got home. You could see in their eyes that they were living beings, and they were hurt and frightened and suffering greatly. But what I will NEVER forget is when he had to kill the ones that survived the drive home in that ice chest- he did so by smacking them in the head with a hammer, sometimes several times before they stopped flopping around. THEY FELT PAIN, they saw with their eyes that hammer coming. At least he attempted to put them out of their misery, unlike some of his buddies who would just gut the poor things alive.

Anyone who has ever been fishing and still thinks they can't feel pain is lying to themselves to justify their own sadistic actions because it's plain as day, so obvious even a CHILD can see it. They are LIVING BEINGS, and therefore CAN FEEL PAIN. Some people don't care about animal suffering, but they HAVE to realize the animals suffer. I think that a lot of people who hold this opinion that fish can't feel pain have never been fishing though. They have no comprehension of seeing the animal fight for it's life or the fear in it's eyes. I think that is one of the biggest issues with all forms of meat, there is a huge disconnect because people never have to see it and never have to take a life themselves.
Thanks for sharing this. It's very sad though

And of course fishing trawlers catch thousands of fish all at once so that they struggle and die even when they are all piled up on top of each other
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#19 Old 08-05-2015, 06:04 PM
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I have several small "pet" fish in a fish tank. One especially has a huge amount of fun not only "attacking" but squirming through my fingers. This fish is a weather loach (also called a golden dojo), a food fish. I totally know this fish is having fun and humoring itself running in and out of my fingers, nibbling me with it's little parrot like beak, waiting for me to feed it. It is a real relationship, the same as if it were a bunny rabbit or a cat. The various other fish in the fish tank are much less frightened of the "big hand" due to this weather loach.

As far as these fish, they are small, and my size to them is like a huge building. They really should have no interest in me whatsoever. But they do. They are very friendly, all approaching me and allowing me to interact (though the weather loach so much more).

Yes, fish not only have feelings, but they have fun and can experience a relationship with another species.

These fish can live between 10 and 15 years like any cat. You cannot tell me that they are just empty headed plants floating out there. They absolutely have families, friends, and a story. They interact with their environment. They are the same as any of us.
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Last edited by Gita; 08-05-2015 at 06:12 PM.
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#20 Old 08-05-2015, 06:28 PM
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I think you are far too optimistic about people in general. Fish don't wear a recognizable facial expression of fear which is excuse enough for some people, and simultaneously, people are content interpret expressions where none exist.
I looked into rescuing one of those poor pet store betta fish some time ago since I had a spare tank. I came across some *truly* dedicated fish owners who had very strong bonds with their fish, and actually taught their fish tricks through positive reinforcement:


Fish (and most aquatics) ARE intelligent beings and in fact have much more highly tuned sensory systems because they live in water. People just sadly do not recognize it And if for just *one second* the person could put themselves in the place of these creatures, who can see them, hear (or sense vibration), feel the sensation of "drowning" outside their natural aquatic environment and feel pain they may have a different opinions on treating them so cruelly. Perhaps it is not the fish who do not show emotion, rather the human who does not CHOOSE to recognize it. Dogs and cats aren't the only animals capable of recognition, fear and other emotions. My bird is clearly inseparably bonded to me and any common idiot can see it plain as day, as he is a being of higher intelligence. But even my little newt recognizes me as his carer and responds to stimuli such as seeing me pick up his food or crawling into his net when I need to clean his tank. Many fish owners will tell you similarly that their fish recognize the food jar, recognize the carer, recognize the net... Clear signs of *some level* of intelligence and/or emotion. My gecko, despite being blind and old still climbs right into my hands because he knows they are warm and safe (I hold him every day, have for 19 years). My bearded dragon (before she passed) always came out when I got home, seeking interaction and made her way to my shoulder once I took her out (her favorite hangout spot). Many "lower animals" are only lower because of peoples perception and inability to see past their biases.
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#21 Old 08-06-2015, 12:29 AM
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My son rescued a Betta fish from where he works. It was in one of those small glass bowls and very cold. It looks similar to the one in the video with the same set up.

I'm proud of the way he took him in, did the research and was able to heal some of the problems it had. And I get to feed him if my son is away overnight.


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