Everything You Need To Know About Why Fish Are Friends Too!

Need some convincing that fish are amazing and deserve to be left in the ocean instead of on a plate? Look no further than the fish facts below as we share why fish are friends too!

Blurry photo of Longhorn cowfish Lactoria cornuta horned boxfish in a clear sea aquarium
Image Credit: AdobeStock

Fish are sentient beings

According to the insightful book ‘What A Fish Knows’ by Jonathan Balcombe, studies have shown that fish can feel pain and pleasure and have individual personalities, just like other animals. Some fish have even been known to approach divers in hopes of being touched and caressed.

Fish are super smart

Although they have small brains (relative to their body size), studies have shown that individual fish can remember events, tasks, tests, other fish, and even recognize human individuals for months and even years, smashing apart the myth that fish only have three- to four-second memories. Jonathan Balcombe told The Animals Voice that during one study, cleaner fish even outscored great apes (chimpanzees and orangutans) and monkeys (and a fish researcher’s four-year-old daughter) on a cognitive task involving ephemeral and permanent food sources.

Fish are team players

Research conducted on reefs showed that a hungry grouper fish will use a headshake signal to recruit a moray eel to go hunting. Working as a pair, they each have higher per capita hunting success than hunting alone. Groupers will also point to hidden prey, seeking to get the eel’s attention.

Fish have communication skills

Fish have ear parts inside of their heads and can pick up sounds in the water through their bodies and in their internal ear. Some fish, such as certain species of carp and herring, hear through their swim bladders, which function as a hearing aid. And not only can fish hear noises, but they can make them too… They do not have vocal cords, but they can growl, bark, click, hum, whistle, and croak. They also communicate through body language, and herrings are thought to communicate by… farting.

Fishing doesn’t just affect fish

Not too concerned about tuna or carp? Well, according to Cowspiracy, scientists estimate that as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels, 40-50 million sharks are killed in fishing lines and nets, and for every one pound of fish caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. In fact, abandoned fishing gear, such as nets and cages, is doing far more damage to the ocean than single-use plastic, like straws and bottles.

Fish suffer on factory farms too

According to CIWF, intensive fish farming involves:

…[O]vercrowding in poor conditions, starvation, and inhumane slaughter methods, such as by suffocation.

They also state that:

“It is unlikely that the conditions in intensive farming meet even the basic needs of fish.”

Fish suffocating
Photo courtesy of Alex Prolmos, re-used under a Creative Commons licence

The fish you order at a restaurant may not be the fish you think it is

Several well-publicized studies have shown that the fillets served up on restaurant plates often don’t match what’s listed on the menus. For example, escolar, often called “white tuna” on sushi menus, is a snake mackerel that’s routinely substituted for many different fish.

some fish are poisonous to humans

In Japan, ‘fugu’ or puffer fish, is a delicacy that contains tetrodotoxin, a deadly poison, and chefs must have a certificate from a special school that teaches the preparation of this toxic fish so as not to kill diners. But in fact, all fish also absorb bacteria, contaminants, and heavy metals from the polluted waters they swim in, which can then be passed along to anybody who eats them. And there is also currently a big debate about whether microplastics ingested by fish can harm the humans that eat them.

Our ecosystem relies on fish and a healthy ocean

Eating fish at the rate we do is just not sustainable. It’s been estimated by scientists that by 2048, the oceans could be bare, affecting everything on planet Earth; Plants, animals, AND us humans.

There are lots of innovative alternative options available in supermarkets and restaurants

If you think you’ll be missing out on omega-3 essential fatty acids by going vegan, don’t worry because they can be found in walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans, and cauliflower. And if you are worried about missing out on the taste or texture of your favorite fish dish, there are now plenty of vegan alternatives available in mainstream restaurants and supermarkets, from “tuna” to “fish” fingers.

Read more on our blog about the wonders of sea creatures. Did you know – prawns have personalities too?

Thinking of trying vegan?

Veganuary inspires and supports people all over the world to try vegan for January and beyond. Millions of people have already taken part.
Will you join them?