Do fishes cry?
Care & Breeding

Do Fishes Cry? Emotions of Fishes

Do fishes cry? No, fishes don’t cry and they can’t produce tears. Even though they do feel basic emotions like sadness, depression, and stress they can trigger tear production in some highly developed animals.

Fishes do have a limbic system, but they still lack the biological process which produces tears.

Do fishes have emotions?

Yes, fish definitely has emotions!! Fish have pain receptors and they have the capacity to suffer. While we might not be able to observe pain on a fish’s face, the evidence is increasingly clear that they undergo a variety of emotions which includes fear, joy, relaxation, and cheerfulness.

Why Fishes Can’t Cry?

Fishes don’t need to produce tears, that might sound lame but that’s true. Humans and other mammals need tears to lubricate their eyes.

But fishes are not able to process very deep emotions even though depression is seen very often in fish, they are not able to express their emotions in terms of tears.

Basically, most fish species lack the important brain components which are responsible for developing and expressing deep emotions.

Fish Brain Anatomy

People often question that does fish have a brain, so yes fish definitely has a highly developed brain. The most important thing is that fish brain has similarities with mammalian brain except for a few differences.

Does Fish Have Cerebral Cortex?

Fishes naturally lack some vital areas like the cerebral cortex and neocortex. The cerebral cortex is basically the neurological component that is involved in many functions which include tears production as well.

The absence of a cortex means that fishes are mentally and emotionally unable to process a difficult process like tear production. On the other hand mammal tears also play the role of a protective agent.

Why do fish have tear ducts?

Tear ducts are present in fish and aquatic mammals like whales and dolphins. Because the eyes of these animals are basically wet from their aquatic environment since they are underwater animals so they tear ducts.

Do fishes cry
Do fishes cry

Do Fish Feel Pain?

Yes, Fishes do feel pain and they also express it. Fishes are intelligent creatures and they are able to feel emotions and pain as well. Since fishes are not able to shed tears like us or other mammals, they do express their pain in terms of “loud noises”.

Besides this, fishes express their emotions by isolating themselves from other tank mates or by lying at the bottom of the tank. 

Can Dolphins and Whales Cry Despite Being Mammals?

No, whales and dolphins can’t cry, and other aquatic mammals don’t produce tears. They don’t need to cry in spite of all the pain and sadness, as their eyes are always wet since they are underwater. 

The most significant things observed in dolphins and whales are loud crying sounds when they are sad or hurt.

In order to protect their eyes from salty water these aquatic mammals have a thick mucous layer that completely covers their eyes. So because their eyes are protected, they don’t need to cry to make their eyes clean. 

What can make your fish sad?

Fishes get sad quite often and they do get depressed as well but fishes still don’t cry. These are the reasons your fish might be sad.

Small and overcrowded tank

A small and overcrowded tank can make your fish feel sad and stressed out. A tank of 20-30 gallons is considered ideal, for your average 5-fish school of 3-inch fish. For larger fish species or larger communities, do your research, and expand their tank accordingly depending on the species.

Hungry fish are sad fish

A hungry fish can become sad and needs to be fed quickly. some of the fish are fast eaters than others in the tank, and therefore they will finish the food before others have had their part. Even if this thing happens only one time it will leave a fish dissatisfied and depressed. If a fish misses food on regular basis, it becomes prey to malnutrition and they can get sick and eventually can die. But you must not overfeed your fish as this will also be harmful to your fish.

Clean water tank

Unhealthy water conditions or dirty tanks can also put your fish under unnecessary stress and will make them sad. So you must keep the right pH and water conditions for your fish.

Fish community 

A fish living alone in a tank will feel sad as they are quite social animals. So always keep your pet fish with suitable tank mates that are not aggressive towards them so your fish can easily swim inside your tank and can stay happy and healthy.

You must have plenty of hiding spaces such as caves and plants, so your fish can hide in them if they feel unsafe or threatened. Separate mating fish to reduce their stress and also to protect them from any resulting spawn. 


Do fishes cry? In summary, fishes do not produce tears even though they have emotions such as fear, joy, and sadness. They lack the biological process responsible for tear production. Fishes have pain receptors and can suffer, but they express their pain in different ways such as by making loud noises, isolating themselves, or lying at the bottom of the tank. Dolphins and whales, despite being mammals, also cannot produce tears as their eyes are always wet due to being underwater. Fishes can become sad due to factors such as a small and overcrowded tank, hunger, dirty water, and lack of suitable tank mates. Providing the right environment and conditions for fish can help to keep them happy and healthy.

Do Fishes Cry? Emotions of Fishes
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