Groundbreaking Study Proves Fish Have Emotions

In a recent study, zebrafish responded to stress by an increase in body temperature, or what is known as an “emotional fever.”

Image Credit: SpeakingofResearch.com

Image Credit: SpeakingofResearch.com


Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared processed meats to be cancer-causing, more and more people are reducing their consumption of pork, poultry, and bovine products and opting for seafood and plant-based proteins. 

While seafood is definitely nutritious – full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, a recent study has proven that sea creatures do, in fact, feel emotions. This is the first time research has found fish to be sentient beings, raising some concerns for ethical eaters. 

According to the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, zebrafish responded to stress by an increase in body temperature, or what is known as an “emotional fever.” In the past, researchers thought such a thing only exists in mammals, birds, and reptiles, but this new research proves otherwise.

Quartz reports that scientists placed six zebrafish groups in tanks divided by plexiglass into six chambers, each containing water of a different temperature. Each tank was connected so the fish were able to access them all, and then acclimatize to the water overnight.

Next, the scientists confined three groups of fish using a small net, which caused anxiety in the fish. Shortly after, they released the zebra fish into the central chamber and examined their movements. 

What the found, according to the study, was “striking.” It was determined that while the unconfined groups remained where they were, the stressed zebrafish spent significantly more time at higher temperatures, which led to an estimated rise in body temperature, and, therefore, an emotional fever.

They wrote:

“This finding removes a key argument or lack of consciousness in fishes.” 

In the past, studies have shown that fish – despite their size – are pretty intelligent when it comes to using tools, navigating waters and recognizing social hierarchy. This is the first time research has concluded, however, they are also sentient beings.

Is this just one more reason to eat a predominantly vegetarian/vegan diet? Comment your thoughts below and share this news!


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