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    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
    I'm still going to eat sushi.

    Comment


      #3
      ......
      Last edited by orangejello; 6 Nov 2008, 11:28 AM.

      Comment


        #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.
        If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.


        Sometimes it is easier to widen doors than it is to open minds.

        Comment


          #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.

          Rose
          http://www.myspace.com/roseoremus
          C6/C7 Complete, Asia A, since March 31, 2005.

          Comment


            #6
            Well an itch you can't get scratched is pretty painful IMO
            If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.


            Sometimes it is easier to widen doors than it is to open minds.

            Comment


              #7
              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

              Comment


                #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...

                Comment


                  #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

                  Comment


                    #10
                    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

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists longer than the temporal course of natural healing, associated with a particular type of injury or disease process.[1]
                      The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage."[2] It is important to note that pain is subjective in nature and is defined by the person experiencing it, and the medical community's understanding of chronic pain now includes the impact that the mind has in processing and interpreting pain signals.
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_pain
                      DO FISH FEEL PAIN?

                      This is not an easy question to answer. Reasonable arguments have been made both to support and refute the claim that fish are capable of sensing and experiencing pain. Summaries of two such arguments follow.

                      The Case Against the Experience of Pain in the Fish
                      James Rose of the University of Wyoming has put forth a strong argument for the inability of fish to experience pain that relies on analogy between human and fish neuroanatomy. Rose emphasizes the distinction between reaction to injury and psychological experience of pain and emphasizes that the existence of the former does not evince the existence of the latter. Indeed, human experiments have proven that pain is experienced in the brain and that sensation of and reaction to noxious, or potentially harmful, stimuli can occur without the experience of pain. The concept of nociception makes this possible.
                      http://www.link.vet.ed.ac.uk/animalwelfare/Fish%20pain/Pain.htm

                      The Brain:
                      According to Bermond (1997) the highly developed neocortex of the human cerebral hemispheres is responsible for our ability to experience emotions and sensations such as pain. The existence of this feature in the fish brain would strengthen an argument for the ability of fish to experience pain. However, the fish brain is dominated by brainstem components and features very primitive cerebral hemispheres that lack neocortex. Humans require this neocortex for basic sensory functions as it is thought to be responsible for interpreting the sensory information received and processed by our brainstem and spinal cord. In fish, a higher level of cortical sensory interpretation appears nonexistent, since fish behaviour is unaffected by cortical damage. For example, cortical damage in a human may cause blindness whereas the complete removal of a fish’s cerebral hemispheres causes no apparent change in sensory-dependant behaviour.
                      If we assume, as Rose and Bermond do, that the neocortex is necessary for pain sensation, then we must admit that sensation of pain in any animal lacking an analogous structure is unlikely. Fish would therefore lack the neurological capability to experience the negative psychological sensation of pain.
                      Last edited by adi chicago; 6 Nov 2008, 3:12 PM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Sasyrose2 View Post
                        OJ, I've been told the most humane way to euthanize a fish, is to freeze them.
                        That is what I used to believe. I tried it once on a sick fish and it completely traumatized me. Afterwards I spoke to a vet and he said told me he didn't believe freezing was humane unless the fish was heavily anesthetized first and even then he had doubts. He recommended that I use a fish anesthetic called Finquel, doubling the regular dose that would be used to anesthetize a given fish, and that would provide the most humane death. I have since done it this way several times and never had a problem. Well except that emotionally I find it is a very tough thing to do. It does seem the most human way to me as the fish simply loose consciousness and then their hearts stop. I guess freezing does that too but I could never do that again and believe it doesn't cause the fish a lot of stress, even if momentarily.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I do believe that fish feel pain, as much as we might like to believe otherwise when looking at a golden brown fisherman's platter. I gave up all red meat about 15 years ago because I could no longer play the games of calling a pig pork or a cow a hamburger. I still eat fish occasionally though, and right now I am feeling a bit guilty for doing so.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Sasyrose2 View Post
                            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.

                            [ATTACH]26140[/ATTACH]
                            How wonderful that you are involved with a koi and a KOI CLUB! Perhaps Nishikigoi should be named mydear. I was just at a Samurai's house called Nomura-san's House in Kanazawa (Japan). They have these monstrous koi's that must be 30-40 lb, perhaps 2.5 feet long, and 6-inches in diameter, lazing in the pond. Nishiki means "brocaded" and koi means carp. I am reminded of the huge carps that are in the imperial moat in Tokyo. As kids, we use to toss mikan (tangerine) slices to them.

                            Yes, there is no question that fish will rub themselves when they have parasites. As humans, we don't know all the various means by which fish communicate pain. Fish do exhibit several features of intelligence, however. For example, fish are playful and curious. They can learn and some are adept at recognizing people.

                            When I was at the University of Iowa, my room-mate (a medical student) had a piranha that he kept inside huge glass bottle (the kind of glass bottle that is used to hold water for dispensing water). Every day or two, he would feed it goldfish. The piranha eventually grew so big that it cannot be taken out of the bottle without breaking it. When it ate, it would take a bite of the caudal end of the fish and leave just the head bobbing, with fins still moving and eyes moving. The piranha seemed deliberately cruel.

                            Several years ago, I was on a radio show in Seattle, Washington. There was some conservative radio show host and I was the token scientist debating a token PETA representative, with people calling in. One of the callers asked whether fish could feel pain and whether we are being cruel to them when we fish. The radio show host gave the PETA representative first shot at the question and she of course said yes. I said that I wasn't sure but that we should give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them as if they feel pain. I am not sure that this was what the radio show host wanted to hear. In any case, he then asked the PETA representative what she would do if she found a mouse in her home. She said that she would carefully trap it and move it out doors. Then he asked her what she would do if she were driving along and there were flies. She said that she would slow down to avoid splattering them on her windshield. Finally, he asked her what she would do if she were on an island with cannibals and they had the choice of her or a cow to eat. She said in a quavering voice that she would run as fast and far as she could. Poor woman.

                            I did my PhD thesis on skates (Raja erinacea) and discovered spreading depression in elasmobranch cerebellum. To do that, I had to record from the brains of skates. I cooled them down by running aerated 5˚C seawater through their spiracles, used a sharp scalpel to cut into their cranial cavities (they have collagenous skulls), and then inserted microelectrodes into their cerebellums. They were only lightly restrained. I monitored their heart rate to ascertain if they were getting excited or having pain. It interesting that when I stimulated their cerebellum, their heart rate increased and when I created spreading depression in the cerebellum, their heart rates would slow down as neural activity declined. At least under those conditions, I don't think that I was causing them pain.

                            It is very hard to tell if fish have pain. I do know that they will avoid noxious stimuli by swimming way. They will rub parts of themselves raw if there are parasites. They will thrash around if they are scared or excited. However, like many animals, when they are severely injured, they often calm down. A postdoctoral fellow of mine once called this calming down effect a "ninja" state. I asked her what she meant. She said, it is what ninjas do when they are hurt, so that they don't attract attention to themselves. So, I am not sure that motor activity is necessarily reliable for assessing whether a fish is having pain. Monitoring heart rate is much better, in my opinion.

                            Finally, regarding how to kill fish... freezing them is one way. However, institutional animal use and care committees usually recommend using a fish anesthetic agent called MS222. Formerly made by Sandoz, this drug is dissolved into water and will rapidly anesthetize a fish placed into the water. After anesthetizing the fish, it can easily be frozen. For example, you can have a plastic bag, fill part of it up with water, add the MS222, and then place the fish into the bag to anesthetize it.

                            What people should not do are:
                            • Do not flush the living fish down the toilet. Whether a fish can or cannot feel pain, it is a nasty way to die [source]http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/disease/a/noflush.htm[/source]
                            • Do not put unwanted fish into a local pond or river. The fish may not be endemic to the place and certainly may suffer from exposure, lack of food, and being eaten. More important, if it survives and procreates, it may be bad for the environment.

                            What you can do if the fish is healthy:
                            • Donate them to your local pet store. Sometimes they take them and other people will adopt the fish.
                            • Ask your friends whether they want to adopt them. Surprising numbers of people will take your fish.
                            • Take them to your office where you can start an aquarium.

                            What you can do if the fish is unhealthy:
                            • Put the fish on ice and freeze them.
                            • If you have access to MS222, anesthetize them first, and then freeze.

                            Wise.

                            Last edited by Wise Young; 6 Nov 2008, 5:04 PM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Quote Dr. Young: I do know that they will avoid noxious stimuli by swimming way (sic).

                              Having been a fisherman since I was old enough to hold a rod I cannot agree with this.

                              In order to avoid noxious stimuli (pain) a fish would swim toward the angler to lessen the "pain" however when hooked a fish swims away from the angler increasing pressure on the hook hold thereby increasing the "pain".

                              I believe a fish fights because it's being pulled off course, ie. it wants to swim in a straight line but the angler is pulling it to the left, the fish then pulls hard to the right to regain it's original bearing, this continues until it either escapes or is on the bank.

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