• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Someone once asked me..

E.Heim

Seedling
Joined
20 Jul 2020
Messages
2
Location
Lomdon
My young son once asked me.. "are the fish all happy?"
So I thought.. how the hell do I answer that? I mean should I ask them? Wave to them then see if they wave back? Do fish smile, or smirk?
But I must admit, it was a great question. In the end.. I just pointed at the Seachem Alarm showing yellow 🤔
 

Wolf6

Member
Joined
18 Dec 2014
Messages
566
Location
Netherlands
I tell my kids to look at their colors, and at their behavior. A happy fish should have good coloring (species appropriate and given his or her mood of course), and exhibit 'normal' behavior such as foraging, play fighting/showing off etc. Unhappy fish are often pale, or show unusual color patterns, hide or hang low/at the surface, fast breathing, red gills, and so on.
 
Last edited:

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
8,008
Location
Netherlands
There is quite some scientific research done on fish having emotions. The results revealed the definitively do and seem to know happiness and depressions.

How to determine when they feel what is a difficult one... I guess fish that live in groups can develop mutual and hierarchical bonds and fish that live solitary obviously don't and never will experience depression from loneliness but it still can have emotions.

I'm already keeping goldfish for a lot of years, started out with 3 and today I have +20 they actually all are family and always together. Once I separated a few that been together for years. And I noticed them getting depressed and inactive and losing appetite for days. Their behaviour went back to normal again the moment I did introduce them back to the group. But these are fish that can have a 30-year lifespan. Fish with only a few years lifespan might not have much time to develop bonds that strong.

Anyway, how would you answer such a question to a child? I think very honestly is the best one...

Yes, they have emotions and how they show this still is fairly unknown to us. It's something we can't ask and as long as they are healthy, have a good appetite and show normal natural behaviour we can assume they are happy.
 
Last edited:

mort

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2015
Messages
1,709
There have been studies done on marine gobies where cameras monitored their facial features for signs or stress.

I also know of a study that doesn't feature emotion but rather stress, which I guess is similar if you class it as fear, where cortisol, the stress hormone was measured in tangs (medium to large marine herbivores) that were added to different sized aquaria. It showed that when the fish was added they were stressed but after some time these levels decreased to a point that showed the fish was relatively calm.
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
604
Location
London
I definitely think you can tell if the fish are happy/feel safe. At the moment I am experiencing this myself - my fish lived in a heavily planted 60L and they didn't swim about much any more, I can't describe it but I got a feeling that they were not enjoying their home. They were a bit more happy and active when I put lots of dead leaves in the tank though, I knew that the tank space wasn't enough and I thought the environment wasn't varied enough to keep them satisfied. This unnamed discontent is why I got my 180L, to try to make them happier. I also spent a lot of time watching videos of fish in nature and saw a big difference there.

Flash forward to now where they live in the 180L, which I scaped so they would have every aspect of their needs taken care of - sand for sand sifters, lots of different holes and caves, a variety of dried leaves in piles and driftwood, thick vegetation with lots of moss, a good expanse of clear water to swim freely in that was protected at the sides, some heavy shadows to feel safe in. I have immediately noticed a difference. I see all of the fish far more, they are more active and they all really use the space. They hunt and forage constantly, and the tetras swim about constantly and create different formations and groups. The apistos, which to me seemed to be the happiest fish before, have started to hunt which is a new behaviour to me, and the kuhli loaches at night swim around the whole tank draping themselves on leaves in a group. To me they just seem to feel more safe and act "freer".

I feel a noticable sense of relaxation and calm, where things felt more tense before. It's just a feeling really but I do feel that it has improved things. I especially get this feeling when I "spy" on them at night when they think I'm not around and can't be seen at all, all the fish are out and about in a flurry of activity, whereas in the 60L even at night there wasn't much going on. The tank is now so much more enjoyable to watch as well, seeing the fish like this is a relaxing experience where I don't need to worry any more.

I think you can really tell this in the shops too, you can see which fish feel unsafe, stressed or depressed, and which are quite comfortable and confident.
 

MichaelJ

Member
Joined
9 Feb 2021
Messages
500
Location
Minnesota, USA
Fish that show good colors, good foraging and eating behavior, curiosity, and are being active, that's a sign for me of well-being (or happiness if you want to anthropomorphize). At least with the Tetras I am familiar with, its easy to tell if they are stressed or insecure. Mine are normally just shoaling - hanging out in very loose coupled groups, with many individuals straying away from the group. And when I mess around with the tank during WC/maintenance they tend to school right away...swimming close together in same direction, in the back of the tank etc. - I take that as a sign of stress. I occasionally see an individual detached from the group sitting passive at the same secluded spot near the bottom. That always worries me a bit, as I take it as a bad sign. But it will usually get its mojo back and resume to normal. I haven't lost a fish in a long time.
Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Dazbaird13 Please can someone help, my shrimp are slowly dying on me!. Inverts 4

Similar threads

Top