Do fish have brain
Care & Breeding

Do fish have brains? Let’s Find Out

Every now and then I keep getting questions like do fish have brains or do fish have feelings!! So I thought to answer all these queries in a single article to make it easy for you all. So some people think that fish are just a stupid creature or they don’t have any sort of feelings which is totally wrong. Fish are very intelligent creatures and they do have feelings!! They become aggressive when it comes to their territory which means they do have feelings. They also get stressed out sometimes so they do have brains and feelings. 

Do fish have brains?

Yes, they do have brains. Their brain size is equivalent to their body size and weight. Some of the fish species have little brain-to-body ratios. On the other hand, there are some species with a large brain for example Electrogenic Elephantnose fish has a very large brain that it even outweighs the human brain. Also, sharks have large brains compared to their bodies. 

Fishes are also capable of growing and learning!! You don’t believe me? Then check out Cephalopods, such as octopuses, they have developed brains and are capable to learn actions. So now you can’t say that fish doesn’t have a brain. They are very intelligent creations of God. 

Do fish have brain
Do fish have brain

Fun facts about fish intelligence 

  • Fishes have a proper brain equivalent to their body size
  • Fishes are able to learn new skills
  • Fishes are playful
  • Fishes like to rule and can be territorial 
  • Fishes get angry due to many reasons, one of them is hunger.
  • Fish recognizes their owner
  • Fishes do feel pain
  • Fishes also get stressed out
  • Fish can communicate with other fishes

Anatomy of a fish brain 

To understand in a better way, we will now talk about the anatomy of a fish’s brain to know how their brain works and to know their intelligence.

Parts of brainDescription 
MedullaThis part controls the function of the inner organs of the fish like their heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.
Cerebellum Job of Cerebellum is to control the the motor coordinations like muscles etc
Midbrain It consists of optic lobes and it sorts incoming information and is also responsible for learning new skill.
ForebrainIt consists of olfactory lobes and it is crucial for sight and smell in fish species. There is also pituitary in forebrain and its job is to regulate metabolism

Since now we talked about fish brain anatomy so we know about each part of their brain and their features

Factors that will make you believe fish have brain

Fish can feel pain

Some people think that fishes are not able to feel pain but that is totally wrong. Fishes can feel pain and this means they have a brain that gives them signals. 

Fishes get stressed out and they also get sick. They become lethargic when they are in pain or they sink to the bottom of the tank when they don’t feel well. They stop eating food also if they are stressed out or if they are sick. 

To explain it in more detail let me tell you that fish have neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and these can create feelings of pain, hunger, fear, etc

This is a very big factor that shows fishes have brains and they are able to feel emotions. 

Do fish have brain
Do fish have brain


Fishes get stressed out. There are many reasons behind this. Poor water quality, aggressive behavior, territorial aggression, sickness, unbalanced diet, the temperature is not accurate, the environment is not suitable, etc

These all factors can lead to stress. When a fish gets stressed out, it will stop eating and will not swim. It will become less active and will spend most of its time in the bottom of the tank. It will become lethargic and can also get sick due to stress. They can even die due to high-stress levels. 

Also, stress can make them prone to many diseases like ich, hole in head disease, hyperthermia, etc

This shows that fishes are able to feel emotions. They have a strong ability to feel things and they do notice things around them. They have a completely different world in your aquarium and they can get happy, sad, scared, etc. Fishes have a brain and their brain gives them a signal of everything around them.

Intelligent creatures 

Fishes are very intelligent creatures. They can identify their tank mates. They have the intelligence to identify their predator fishes. For example, if they feel unsafe from a fish or if they are getting bullied by a fish, they will try to hide in rocks or plants to stay safe from aggressive fishes. So this shows fishes can identify other fishes and they have that social intelligence. Some fishes also go along really well with different types of fish species which are compatible with them. 

Fishes are so intelligent that they need their own territory where they can rule. And as humans fight for their rights similarly fishes fight for their area, for their territory. They need their own space where they are the rulers this shows how brave fishes can be and how they like to rule the tank. This definitely means they are very intelligent and their tiny brain is not ordinary. 

Do fish have brain
Do fish have brain


Yes, Fishes can communicate with each other!! Fishes communicate with each other using low-frequency sounds and squeals which humans can only hear through special instruments. 

They also use body language to communicate for example a lionfish moves their back fins in a unique way for inviting other fish for hunting. 

Capable of learning new tricks

Fishes are very intelligent and they are capable of learning new tricks. The most popular example of this is a tiny goldfish who was very intelligent and learned how to push a 

Small soccer ball in an underwater goal. From this example, it’s quite obvious that fishes can pick from actions and they are able to learn new tricks. 

Also, some goldfishes are able to do the hoop trick. In which the owner places a hoop in the tank and will hold a pinch of food on the other side and this attracts the goldfish to jump through the hoop to take their food. So fishes are very energetic and playful and they can learn new tricks with a little practice.

These all factors show that fish are very intelligent and they use their brain very well.

Do fish recognize humans?

Yes, they do recognize humans. They do remember humans’ faces. Fishes are able to pick various details and specific features and so they are able to recognize their owners.

Do you know about the dumbest fish?

This can be funny but yeah there is the dumbest fish and the reason why it’s called the dumbest fish is still unknown. The Gulper shark is known to be the dumb fish ever!! It’s a rare fish. 

You can find them on the eastern coast of Australia or in isolated spots in northern or western New Zealand.

Do you know about the smartest fish?

The smartest fish species are Mantas. They have the largest brains as compared to other fish species. They have a huge web of blood vessels and capillaries in their brain, which makes them the smartest among all.

Do fish have brain
Do fish have brain?


How does the nervous system of fish work

The nervous system of fish detects stimuli by using their sensory nerves. Then the signals travel from sensory nerves to the central nervous system and then it goes through the spinal cord and finally, it reaches the brain. This is how the nervous system of a fish work.

Do fish have feelings?

Yes, they do feel and have emotions like fear, happiness, and aggression. They can get happy when they are in good conditions, they can get aggressive or territorial and they can get stressed out also.


Through this article, it’s very clear that fish has a brain and is capable of doing many tasks. Fishes are playful, energetic, and intelligent creatures. They recognize their owners and they do develop a bond with them.

Fishes are smart pets and fascinating creatures. There is a diverse range of fish species from nonaggressive to aggressive, from freshwater species to saltwater species, etc All fishes have different characteristics and their own unique features. 

Do fish have brains? Let’s Find Out
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