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Thread: Do Fish Feel Pain?

  1. #1

    Do Fish Feel Pain?

    http://www.dtmag.com/Stories/Weird%2...04-ecoseas.htm
    Last year, Lynne Sneddon, a professor of animal biology at the University of Liverpool, in England, published a study in which she tried to provoke pain in fish. Not just an “owwie,” mind you, but actually “pain” — a sensation of equal parts physical discomfort and emotional suffering usually reserved for creatures with big brains.

    Sneddon divided her captive rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) into four groups. One was injected in the snout with bee venom, and another with acetic acid. For you fish-and-chips fans with a taste for irony, that’s the acid in malt vinegar. Both are chemicals commonly used to test pain in laboratory research. A third group was injected with saline as a control group, to determine if the needle poke was the source of the reaction. The fourth was handled by researchers, but not injected, to rule out the stress of the experiment being the cause.

    At the heart of Sneddon’s research was the importance of a group of neurological sensors around the fishes’ mouth called nociceptors. In her research, Sneddon identified 58 of them in the fish’s face and head that were triggered by a chemical, mechanical, or temperature stimulation. These sensors, designed to warn their owner about “noxious stimulation,” are the frontline defenses against repeatedly impaling oneself on sharp objects. They cause an unconscious pulling away from things that damage the body. They’re hard-wired into the hind brain, the central processor of life that controls such things as breathing, circulation, movement, eating, drinking, and involuntary reflexes. Humans have a system very much like this.

    “Anomalous behaviors were exhibited by trout subjected to bee venom and acetic acid,” Sneddon says. “Fish demonstrated ‘rocking’ motion, strikingly similar to the kind of motion seen in stressed higher vertebrates like mammals, and the trout injected with acetic acid were also observed to rub their lips onto the gravel in their tank and on the tank walls. These do not appear to be reflex responses.”

    That reaction fulfills a set of criteria for animal suffering, Sneddon says. To make sure, she gave fish morphine to see if they “felt better” after treatment. Sure enough, their respirations slowed and they stop swaying. So that settles it. Fish feel pain.

    Not so fast. James Rose of the University of Wyoming Department of Psychology and Department of Zoology and Physiology disagrees. Studying the neurological structure of a fish brain, Rose concludes fish can’t possibly feel pain, even if they display a few suspicious-looking behaviors, because they don’t have the brains for it.

    <more>
    There were two bits of surprising new information (for me) in this article. First, the species name for rainbow trouts is "mykiss". Are you kidding me? Who was the scientist who named this species? Second, fish in pain rock back and forth, or rub their lips into gravel? Hmm, you mean they don't swim away and gargle?

    Actually, this whole thing raises a much deeper question. What is the definition of pain? I know many people with neuropathic pain and I have noticed one characteristic. While neuropathic pain is awful, many people who have it don't look like they are in pain and most do not seem to exhibit the emotional component that people show when they have noxious pain. In fact, I recently asked a friend in China how she could keep smiling when she has terrible neuropathic pain. She smiled and said that it doesn't help to not smile, or something to that effect.

    The article goes on to examine the brain of a fish. Fish have a simpler brain than mammals. They have a relatively small telencephalon or almost no cortex but they have most of the subcortical structures, cerebellum, midbrain, and brainstem structures that we do. Another scientist by the name of Snow suggests that the rocking and swaying motions of the fish that had been injected in the lips with bee venom may have been due to an overdose and a direct effect on brain activity.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    I'm still going to eat sushi.

  3. #3
    ......
    Last edited by orangejello; 11-06-2008 at 11:28 AM.

  4. #4
    I think they feel. I have a betta that got an eye fungus. he would rub on the gravel and the sides of his bowl only on the infected side. Why would he rub if he couldn't feel anything?

    As far as neuro pain that is hard to explain. If I was writhing around like I sometimes feel everytime my neuro pain acted up people would think things about me. It is hard to explain at work that I look normal but feel like jumping out of my skin. nothing helps it so i just go about my day. If I lay in bed whining about it then it still hurts and I get nothing in life accomplished.

  5. #5
    I think, at the very least, fish must feel itching. When fish have a parasite, fungus or bacterial infection, they do something they call "flashing", which is just rubbing up against rocks or gravel. This isn't something they normally do. Unfortunately, I've seen fish that look like they have scratched themselves to death.

    OJ, I've been told the most humane way to euthanize a fish, is to freeze them.

    Personally, being involved with koi and a KOI CLUB, I think Nishikigoi should have been given the name MYKISS. They are much prettier than rainbow trout by far, even the ugly ones. Not to mention the prices that are paid for some of these fish. Maybe they should be called MYLOVE.

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    Rose
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    C6/C7 Complete, Asia A, since March 31, 2005.

  6. #6
    Well an itch you can't get scratched is pretty painful IMO

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    http://www.dtmag.com/Stories/Weird%2...04-ecoseas.htm


    Actually, this whole thing raises a much deeper question. What is the definition of pain?
    What do you think?

    the fish didnt even say ouch, to find out why they need another million dollar grant

  8. #8
    I just got four goldfish...I'll have to watch them more closely to see...I still get emotional when one of them dies...or if I see one dying...so it's going to be a challenge for me to keep them alive...as for flushing dead ones down the toilet, I can't do it cause of a childhood fear that they'll come back up and bite me...or haunt me...I know that sounds silly but I tend to buried them in the flower garden where they'll help the flowers out...

  9. #9
    Done alot of fishing before this crap. When you would set the hook in a fish , he sure wasn't happy about it. Some would come flying out of the water like steelhead , salmon and smallmouth. I"m sure they fell that hook set in.
    oh well

  10. #10
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    Cool

    Having Np for 17 years that hovers around the 6-8 pain level I also can smile . I have used mind distraction as a major supressent of Np. It is always there 24/7 but my mind realizes that there is no "physical "damage being done to my awful burning feet that I can cope pretty well when I stay active and busy. It's when I try to relax and sleep that all hell breaKs loose and i have to sedate myself with ambien , Klonopin and Norco to try to get at least some sleep. When the NP is close to an 8 there is not a drug on this planet that gives me relief unless it knocks me unconscoius.

    It is what it is

    Hell on earth (as I sarcastically laugh)

    John
    Chicago
    C-7 incomlte walking quad post 17 years

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