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Do Fish Feel Pain?

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  • Do Fish Feel Pain?

    I have waded through an extremely scientific (i.e., lots of 7+ syllable words) article that appears in Reviews In Fisheries Science, 10(1) (2002), entitled "The Neurobehavioral Nature of Fishes and the Question of Awareness and Pain" by PhD James D. Rose. The basic thesis is that fish are not conscious of when they hurt. In humans pain is consciously experienced through functions of specific regions of the cerebral cortex, which fish lack. Although acknowledging that fish nervous systems are quite different from mammalian nervous systems in many respects, Dr. Rose concludes from his review of scientific literature that there is no functional equivalent of pain-sensing brain regions in fish. He acknowledges that "noxious stimuli" cause fish to display "robust" neuroendocrine and physiological stress responses, and that avoidance of such stressors is important to fish welfare. In great detail he writes off as purely emotional anthropomorphic thinking to conclude that because fish look and act as if they know they were hurt, that they are actually conscious of hurting.

    So, when your koi flash to rid themselves of flukes, you can rest assured that the koi don't realize they have irritated skin. They just do that in response to neuroendocrine chemical reactions with no consciousness of what is happening.

    I personally think Dr. Rose must be a very soft-hearted fellow who has engaged in self-delusion to avoid guilt feelings over torturing fishies in his laboratory. But, maybe I'm just a fuzzy-brained anthropomorphic thinker. I even believe my koi recognize me (compared to other humans) when they see me walk up to the pond.
  • #2

    Itching and pain are sometimes thought of as separate feelings. Like pressure and heat sensitivity are separate. Maybe that's his "out".

    Then again, it may depend on the species. :?


    • #3

      thats some nice information to post there mike.
      i think we thought fish would feel pain just as we do but obviously not, if theres more info on this would be good to hear from you.



      • #4

        pain and fish

        Only humans feel pain as defined.

        Fish can and do respond to negative stimuli by avoidance. However, in many cases the possibility of such negative stimuli does not affect the behavior of the fish as it senses no pain.

        A case in point. I work a lot with largemouth bass. AR types are of the opinion that the hook in the bass' mouth when caught by a fisherman is causing pain. They are very wrong. A bass feeds heavily upon all sorts of spiny animals, including fish. I've seen bluegill spines embedded in the roof of a bass' mouth while it continues to chase and feed upon more bluegills. Same deal with crawfish and thier sharp exoskeletons, bass eat them even though thier mouths are punctured over and over in the process. I've bass that have been caught and released by fisherman hundreds of times, unharmed.

        On the other hand, if a koi is obviously very sick and in dire straights, such as in an advanced case of intestinal tumors, I am of the opinion that the animal should be euthanized in order to releive any suffering it might be in.

        The fact that fish are incapable of feeling pain does not change the fact that humans should act with compassion.



        • #5

          Touchy subject actually.
          Far removed from the world of Nishikigoi and the actual interest in whether of not we can hurt our fish, the subject is a cause celebrité among the green mafia and animal rights movements. The basic aim is to prove fish DO feel pain and therefore make angling a cruel sport that should be banned.
          I fear the odds of getting an unbiased report on this matter about equal to a snowball's chance in hell. You will most likely find that most of these reports are financed by interested parties on one side of the fence of the other
          Sad really

          Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat


          • #6

            I believe that a fish exibits a robust escape response from pressure. Pressure means something has got you. Take hold of a koi in a tub in a non painfull way. You get the exact same response as if you had hooked the fish.


            • #7

              With both of us being fishermen (women) we both know that.
              Like Brett says "I've bass that have been caught and released by fisherman hundreds of times, unharmed." I've seen the same thing in pike and trout.

              But those idiots will grab at any straw no matter how thin it is. How long will it be until keeping fish is considerd cruel?

              I don't think it's fair to compare fish with warmblooded creatures. It's comparing appels and oranges. Sure you can stress fish and incite a flight response, but you can do things to a fish that would have mammal in a coma in short order. If fish feel pain like we do what do we compare next? Fish and grass?

              Hurray no more mowing the lawn!

              Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat


              • #8

                Actually I think SMG's post actually helps your point: you can't compare fish to people, or even mammals. Heck, they don't like hugs, do they? :lol:


                • #9

                  I fully agree with her Jason.

                  My comment is simply that their is alot of bias involved in any and all papers published on the subject.

                  Look at the latest garbage PETA is peddling at the moment!

                  Another nail in the coffin from those with opinions that could very well affect us in this hobby. Mind you with over 90% of all koi being killed within the first 2 years in this hobby, we do have some house cleaning to do. But these idiots will do anything to turn us all into veginists walking around ants instead of stepping on them.
                  I just saw a woman about to run the London Marathon trying to raise money to bring stray dogs from Russia to the UK @ £1,500 each! And they say koi keepers are wierd! :wink:
                  Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat


                  • #10

                    B. Scott, I don't eat meat, don't kill anything or cause it's death (except for three exceptions, self defense, to put an animal out of it's misery, and this includes fish, and to survive, if I were in an arctic plane crash and there were nothing to eat but lemmings I would eat lemmings). I put spiders and wasps outside and try not to step on ants. I keep, you might say enslave, horses. Yet when my horses have escaped they have returned here.

                    And, I FISH. Yes I am guilty. But I let them all go. Still Bad bad bad, very bad.

                    It is a primative, genetic and very strong urge to be near large fish. To see large fish in deep water means to the primative human that they have it made in the shade and gives a feeling of well being. Now that I have koi I fish much less. The koi satisfy the seeing large fish craving yet there is no pressure to try and catch them.

                    PETA would throw me out.

                    But let us not slam these well meaning gentle people. Yes they are far extremists. But society is shaped by extemists, it is pushed toward a direction if it does not actually assume it. Society needs extremists. The animal rights movement began in England long ago. The book Black Beauty anthropomorphised horses, and so people began to give some empathy and consideration to horses when before they were just something to be used like a car. If Peta can get people to consider, by just bringing up the subject, that mammals with their leg in a steel jaw trap waiting a day or two to be clubbed on the head for a fur coat might be a cruel thing, that might good for society in general.

                    Where do you think humane slaughter laws came from? How do you think they began? There was a long long time, thousands upon thousands of years in human history there were none. In the third world animals are still killed in cruel ways with no thought for their suffering. Here in Texas the mexican community still just cuts the baby goat's throats. In the civilized world we ordinarily deprive an animal of conciousness before it's life is ended. This custom was started by extremeists of their time. I know you know these things I am just saying them.

                    As a fisheress, I know that the most enviormentally aware and respectfull fisher people sometimes keep a fish. But at least they have the consideration to bop it on the head first. Even if it does not know it suffers, it still suffers.


                    • #11

                      I figure if I bite into a big ol meatball and the 6/0 hook wraps around my lower jaw and starts pulling me across the restaurant and I try and pull with all my strength against the hook then I ain't feeling any pain.
                      But if I did get a big ol hook in my lower jaw, I'd wet my pants and start beggin for my mama, and not put up a fuss, and I'd do whatever I could to relieve the pain (like going where the line was pulling).
                      To 'feel pain" you have to understand pain, otherwise it's just negative stimulus.
                      Let me just beat on this dead horse a little bit more...after all it don't feel no pain, dose it?


                      • #12

                        Luke, maybe you are one that should be bopped on the head.


                        • #13

                          Yall best watch out. AR types would have an end to the entire fish keeping hobby. Cruel and inhumane to keep any animal in any sort of captivity, they should all be allowed to run free. No matter they'd die in a short while with nobody to care for them, but they'd die happy.

                          The AR types rear thier ugly heads around here pretty regular. Come in from Houston to harass duck hunters in the swamps and fishermen along the jetties. Illegal to do so, but that doesn;t stop them.

                          I's picking up my 16 year old daughter up in Houston last Christmas time. Out front of the Galleria (large upscale mall) were a buncha AR's with signs. On the signs was a picture of a fox with its skin removed. Something along the lines of, "He needs his skin worse than you do."

                          Well, I don;t really care if'n folks wants to wear fox skins or not, probly pretty warm. Heck I'd wear me a baby seal hat if it were legal, saw one once it was very cool. If I'll eat a cow that was knocked in the head, a deer shot by a buddy, then I'll wear a seal hat taken by one of the best regulated and well managed marine mammal fisheries on the planet.

                          So, I sidled up next to this feller and girl with these signs and asted them, "When yall gonna fire up the bar-b-q??? That son of a gun looks ready to cook to me." Of course they were horrified and walked away, I was satisfied.

                          Then some idiot in a fish suit was at the jetties one day harrassing fishermen. I told him he gets within twenty yards of me and I'd beat his a$$ to a pulp with my surf rod. He finally left.

                          Silly as it sounds, these folks are well organized and very well funded. Heck, you can;t sell feeder fish in the UK to feed your oscar or other predatroy fish, too cruel to let a fish eat another fish so it was made illegal.

                          I've not had any of these idiots ever resort to violence while I was around, but heard they've done so in other places and times.

                          They look for something to hang their hat on and do so in droves. Not too many years ago they tried to pass a law with respect to air transport of all live animals, including fish. This law would have stopped the transport of live fish as air cargo and was struck down long before it came to the front. But they keep trying so we must stay vigilant.



                          • #14

                            That somes it up pretty well Brett. Thank you.

                            A vegetarian Texan? Isn't that the mother of all oxymorons? Is such a thing possible (or allowed) in Texas? :shock:

                            Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat


                            • #15

                              Try an make me and I'll shoot yer....... donkey.


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