Fish show emotional response to stress

8049184f-79c1-4c7a-8768-da359e4a029f

Editor's Picks
 A perfect place for your Fighter to rest his little fins — the Betta Bed Leaf Hammock.
Gear Post
Review: Betta Bed Leaf Hammock
21 November 2017
 Just look at that little face... No wonder then, that so many fishkeepers find these little puffers so hard to resist.
Features Post
Join the puffer fish fan club!
28 September 2017
 Special care needs to be taken when catching Pictus catfish and other species with spines.
Features Post
Travels with your fish
03 August 2017


A new study has found that fish may experience ‘emotional fever', which has been used as a basis for proving sentience or consciousness in other species. Until now many experts have seen fish as not being sentient beings in the same way as mammals and birds.

A state of emotional fever is an elevation of body temperature of one or two degrees in response to stress, and it is regarded as a hallmark of sentience and consciousness.
 
Researchers working with Zebra danios exposed 36 fish held in a net to water 1°C than they are used to, while a control group of the same number were left swimming at normal temperatures. All the fish were then transferred to an aquarium with six interconnected chambers, each with a different temperature, where they were allowed to swim about of their own accord.
 
The scientists found that the recently stressed fish consistently congregated in the heated sections of the tank, raising their body temperatures from 2–4°C above that of the unstressed fish, which may shown emotional fever.
 
The scientists say: "This finding removes a key argument for lack of consciousness in fishes."
 
Researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
 
Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer. 
 
Don't forget PFK is also available in digital format. 
Click here for more information on the iPad or iPhone version.
Alternatively, click here for details of the Android version.