Fish are extremely unusual in their own way and there are many species that have developed communications systems. Most people do not give them a second thought, but they are interesting to learn about. They have many of the same organs we do and are also sensitive to pain.
There are thousands of different species and just like cats or dogs, each species has different mannerisms and behaviors. Here are some interesting facts from the fish kingdom.
- Catfish have over 27,000 taste buds, while humans have a mere 7,000.
- Fish are intelligent and can think. One study showed that a spotted rainbowfish that had escaped a net in their tank and had repeated it again 11 months later. This is equivalent to a human remembering a lesson from 40 years ago!
- The oldest living fish was found in Australia. It was an Australian Lungfish and was 65 years old and still ticking!
- Fish sleep with their eyes open.
- Fish do not have vocal chords so use a variety of different low-pitched sounds to communicate with each other. This includes vibrating their muscles against their bones, grunts, hisses, whistles, creeks, moans, wails or gnashing of teeth.
- Fish are capable of drowning in the water. Just like humans, if they do not have enough oxygen they will suffocate. When a fish is out of water it suffocates just like a human would without air.
- In seahorses, it is the male that carries the babies!
- In Great Britain they found that the waters were so contaminated with sewage, that fish were actually changing sex: they found 1/3 of males that were females.
- Fish like physical contact with each other and rub against each other, just like a cat rubs against a human.
- Both mom and dad make wonderful parents; they constantly look after the baby fish until they can go out on their own.
And how about specific species?
- Convict cichlid: This fish pair is monogamous (more than I can say about some humans). They mate in a rock space where they will eventually have eggs. When those eggs hatch, the pair will continue to watch over the babies and check for predators. If the babies get to far, the mother or father will take the baby in their mouth and spit it back out “at home”.
- French Angelfish: Known for their beauty, these fish also mate for life and are very territorial.
- Salmon: Chinook salmon are capable of traveling over 2000 in just 60 days. They are also able to find and return to the river they were born in.
- Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: These tuna fish are warm-blooded: rare for fish. They can comfortably survive in waters ranging from Iceland to the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to about 30 years old in the wild and swim up to 50mph. Their natural predators are orca and sharks.
Many oceans are nearly depleted due to overfishing. The Atlantic Bluefin tuna, for example, is on the endangered species list.
What is worse is when they are caught in fish nets, many other animals get trapped in these nets, including sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, birds and other fish not for consumption. Many times they are dead before they are brought up to the boats. Many bleed to death while stuck in the nets.
The fish that are not dead will suffer decompression at an extremely high rate which can cause their stomachs to be forced out of their stomachs. They will also suffocate as their lungs collapse. Then they will be ripped out of the net by hand and cut open while still alive. If they are not immediately slaughtered, they are thrown on cold ice left to suffocate and slowly die. Scientists estimate that fish suffer 15 minutes of excruciating pain before loosing consciousness.
This is extremely painful, and yes, marine animals do feel pain. In fact, fish have sensitive nerve endings and feel pain just as we do. The omit endorphins, just like we do, to numb any pain in the body.
Some people think that factory farmed fish are actually better. However, fish suffer the same consequences of crowding, disease, overfeeding, antibiotics, chemicals and slaughter as any other factory farmed animal.
Fish are subject to “grading”: the sorting from smaller to bigger fish. This act forces them into grates and different netted tanks allowing some fish to fall through. They get scrapes and loose scales, allowing them to be open to infections. Over 40% of factory farmed fish are blind.
Most fish go insane in the small tanks. Think about it: you have the ocean or river as your home territory for the last thousands of years and now you have a small tank? In severely crowded conditions, parasitic lice literally eat the fish down to their bones leaving entire tanks contaminated with infection and parasites. Factory farming of fish is also done in open ocean spaces, allowing the disease and contamination to spread to the open ocean, infecting the natural species of that particular area.
The factory farmed fish has 7 times the amount of chemicals in their bodies as the wild fish (which is already contaminated). These chemicals and antibiotics help them to survive the disease, filth and contamination inside the tanks.
Chemicals include: mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane), TCE (Trichloroethylene), lead, chromium, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting toxic flame retardants. And some of the illnesses associated with eating contaminated fish?