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MrGrimm888's avatar

Are fish happiest, in the wild? (Details.)

Asked by MrGrimm888 (13499points) May 17th, 2017

I wasn’t sure how to phrase this question.

I’m curious if fish are unhappy with life in an aquarium. I know that they can be more stressed, under certain conditions. I have read that constant light, people knocking on the glass, lack of hiding places, even lack of other fish can be stressful.

Life in the wild must be stressful too.

Are fish happier in an ideal aquarium setup, than in the wild?

Do fish have the slightest concept of “happiness?”

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16 Answers

NomoreY_A's avatar

Don’t know. I put my fish in a bowl of water, and left it to drown. Feel awful about it, of course.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have a pond and the only way I can tell if my fish are happy is if they reproduce.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@LuckyGuy – in that respect, not at all like people.

Mariah's avatar

It’s hard to tell.

Probably 90% of people who keep fish in an aquarium do not provide good conditions for them. Too small of a tank, overstocking and not enough water changes, leading to buildup of harmful chemicals that cause chemical burns on their skin, not enough hiding places to provide a sense of security.

I like to think that the other 10% of fish are happy in their aquariums. They are provided with food and do not have predators.

I spoil my fish. I hope they are happy. I have no way to ask them.

zenvelo's avatar

My son won a goldfish at a school fair when he was 12. He is now 21, and Frederick the Goldfish passed last weekend. We like to think he was content. He would swim to the side of the aquarium and look at people walking in the room. If my son walked in, Frederick would follow him as he moved.

But I think he would have been happier being free in tropical waters, although he most likely would not have lived as long.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Depends on where “wild” is. Many aquarium fish are domesticated. For the ones that are not the water they are in may not be any better than unkempt aquarium water.

rojo's avatar

According to Kurt Cobain fish don’t have ANY feelings.

Coloma's avatar

Well..captive bred fish have no wild to compare their existence to, nor do they have the cognitive ability to formulate stories about the where’s and whys of their lives. Even a wild caught fish is not going to be conscious of being taken from its habitat, but it will feel stress if it’s new conditions are inferior to its requirements for an optimum life. Too small a tank, others aggressive and incompatible fish species, poor water quality etc.
Fish, like other animals do not have the ability to compare their circumstance any more than a dog or a cat has the ability to compare theirs.

It’s really more a question of health and adequate provisions for a fish or anything else to have a quality life. The fish is not thinking how it wishes it was living in it’s Amazonian river habitat any more than a dog is able to think and ponder that it wished it was living on a farm and not in an apartment. haha

LostInParadise's avatar

How could you tell if a fish is happy? They are not very expressive. At what level of complexity do animals have such an emotion? Do bees really feel anger when their nest is invaded? Do reptiles and octopuses feel happiness?

Dogs and cats can at least express appreciation.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Nemo didn’t like it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

To clarify. I mean if a fish were in one of 2 universes. In one universe, it is lives in an aquarium under ideal circumstances. In the other universe, it is born, lives, and dies in the wild.

Which life would the fish prefer?

Which fish had the best life?

Coloma's avatar

Well..I didn’t realize this hypothetical fish had the ability to make a choice. haha
Oookay, I am sure, IF, a fish had thinking power it would probably choose to live as a free fish just like a bird would choose to not be caged.

Everybody sing now…Boooorn freee…

johnpowell's avatar

I would also like to think my fish are happy. They would probably be happier in a larger tank but that is being addressed when I move next month. Going from 10 gallon to 40. But if I lined my fish up they would be about 8 inches (4 fish ~2 inches each) so I think they are fine in a ten gallon tank.

I have my light on a timer. If you touch the glass on the aquarium you get the boot from my apartment. I have lots of big plants (living) in my tank so tons of hiding spots. I have four fish and they are usually playing together.

And my fish were labeled as “feeders” in the pet store so if I wouldn’t have bought them they would have been lionfish dinner six months ago.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@johnpowell My fish were “feeder fish” too! I call them “rescue fish.” When the store owner heard I was putting them in a pond he picked out interesting ones. some have white strips some have black tail tips . They are doing quite well.

Coloma's avatar

I had a couple feeder goldfish years ago. “Cedric * Edna.”
They grew HUGE in a 20 gallon tank. They would eat from my fingers and had personalities. Sadly my cat at the time slipped a claw into the space between the lid , the little gap on the edge and fished them out for a snack. I had them for about 5 years and who knows how long they might have lived had they not been eaten. :-(

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I tried popularing a tank with feeder fish. They always die as if they were bred to do so after a bit. I did feed them to my oskars though.

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