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Do goldfish become sad?


ShawneeRiver

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I put Goldeen in a QT tank yesterday so I could keep salt out of my main planted tank, and he's doing fine. Then this morning, Peaches (who usually is being chased by Goldeen) was bottom sitting, so I put Peaches in the QT tank too. Then an hour later, Goldeen's BFF Harry was bottom sitting with Oreo sitting along side for company. So I tossed them in the QT tank too, and they immediately all huddled up in the middle together to say hi. Now they all are swimming around just like they do normally.

Did my water quality take a nosedive or did they miss each other? Do goldfish form attachments and mourn the loss of other fish?

BTW, I just noticed that ghost shrimp are swimming around openly in the main tank, so they aren't missing their finned friends! :)

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I think they can form bonds of some kind. Or one going missing upsets their social order. When I moved my one big calico girl to qt, her "boyfriend" Chip became very unhappy and almost grumpy if the other fish went near him. When I put her back in, they swam right to eachother and went back to their usual routine of swimming around the tank side by side. So I dunno....maybe they do. It would be nice to think that they do care for eachother in some way.

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Hmm, I'm not sure. It wouldn't surprise me if fish acted differently when another fish goes, especially if they've been together for a while. I didn't notice it when I had to put a fish in QT, but that's just one observation :)

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I checked it, and yesterday I did a big wc. However, something is going on in there.

That's my other thought, Jen -- that it messed up the social order. Goldeen was first to leave, and Goldeen is the biggest fish by far and rules the tank. Harry quickly became his inseparable buddy. And Goldeen, Peaches and Oreo are our original three, all bought together in June. Harry has been with them since July. That's long enough to form a hierarchy and pattern of behavior. :)

Edited by ShawneeRiver
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I don't know if we can really attribute emotions, per se, to goldfish, just based on the lack of complexity of their brains. I don't think they necessarily feel things that we would describe as "sadness" or "love," but it seems reasonable that they could experience very basic things such as "I am content" or "I am not content."

That said, I totally anthropomorphize my own fish like crazy, and find myself ascribing them characteristics like "sassy" and "shy" and "sweet," which goes against what I actually think they're capable of.

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Goldfish form attachments. When I split my babies into two tanks -- the four smallest in one and the three largest in another, the fish in both tanks pouted for a week. They hid when I came near the tank, they huddled together in a corner, they showed no interest in their environment. Water tests came out perfect. Water changes didn't help. They had just been prazied and showed no sign of ill health. The little ones went back to more normal behavior after a week, but the big ones stayed skittish and pouty. Finally I had a 50 gallon stock tank pond available for my fancies who vacated a tank big enough for all the babies. I put all the babies back together. They were upset about being moved, of course, but as soon as they were all together, they checked out one another and started swimming as a group, round and round the tank. That's the way they've been ever since, happy and close together.

Some of my fish are perfectly happy with a change in tankmates. When I first got Spookyfish she refused to have anything to do with me, hid frantically whenever I came into the room and wouldn't touch food until I left. After almost 3 weeks of this, I decided to get her a tankmate since she hadn't acted like this in the store tank. I checked out the $0.13 tank at Pet$mart and brought home Valentine, a sarasa comet named for the red heart on his head, and Butterfly, an orange and white comet who was both the tiniest fish in the tank and the one with the longest fins. Valentine and Spookyfish were instantly "joined at the anal fin," doing everything together. Butterfly was always off on her own. She's had a number of tankmates, gets on with them fine, but pays little attention to who she's with. I wouldn't dream of separating Val and Spooky, and the babies who are such a tight group are their offspring.

Here's an interesting similar observation by a breeder: http://www.goldfishk...p?t=2932&page=2

"i had a group of ranchu that were breed and kept together. one grew very large very quickly and was moved outdoors. the other 3 moved out a few months later. in a large pond with about 30 fish where everybody was going out their business as usual i observed the following. withing about 10 seconds of the introduction the larger sibling came rushing out of the ribbon grass and all four fish swam in a tight ball for about 5 minutes before relaxing and moving off together.

i have never observed this before and this action was completely ignored by all the other fish. it looked more like the action of dogs than GF. for the next week or so these 4 fish all stayed within inches of each other and even later they were most often still in what i would call a lose school—within a foot or two. None of the other unrelated small fish schooled like this set and this set never mixed with the other fish. interesting to read insight as to what i observed. "

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I don't think goldfish can feel sad, no, because, like RanchuDressing said, they don't have the developed nervous system to feel emotion like humans do. We tend to like to force our own nature onto nature, and think that animals/other living creatures have the same thought processes we do, when that's just not the case. When we were babies, we cried when we were hungry, or when our parents weren't around; not because we were sad, but because that was simply our brain's response to something we weren't used to. Now that our brains have the developed, we have more control over that.

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I do not know the extent of their feelings... But i know when i separate fish that have been together for some time (like Eenie & kisses) they seem less energetic,almost sulky :( now Jazz on the other hand loves having a big tank all to himself ;) we'll see how he likes sharing that tank with Ollie next week ;) lol

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If fishies do have feelings mine have cold cold hearts one dies they just go "Ehhhh, what the heck more food for me!"

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The gang has been together in qt all day, and this evening, I haven't seen any sign of bottom sitting or moping or stillness. They are doing what they always do. Perhaps some fish are more social and form more of a bond. For instance, we lost a fish several weeks ago, and I didn't see any change in behavior then. But that fish was less social than the others.

One thing I've decided about goldfish is that although they aren't schooling fish, they are community fish. I wouldn't want to keep one alone because they seem to enjoy being together. :)

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Indeed, they seem to be more comfortable when there are other fish around. Perhaps this is because it more resembles their natural habitat, where other fish would be typical?

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I lost my fish Krang a while a go. Krang (the female) and Isis (the male) lived together for four years. When Krang got sick and became a bottom sitter, Isis stayed hovering by her side. When Krang died, Isis stayed hovering in the spot he last saw her. For a week or two he stayed there hovering, not swimming unless it was feeding time. He would do the odd round of the tank now and then, but always back to hovering at the bottom in that corner. All water tested fine. I moved him into a smaller Qt tank (with no added medications or salt), so I could clean out the big tank and so I could give him a change of pace. And just a day after moving, he was back to his old self. Like the change helped distract him from his moping. Now I did have Isis for about a year, before he had a tank mate and he was never a shy fish, so the "he is scared because he is not schooling" idea cannot apply, even now he is just fine alone, all bold and active.

So can they be sad like us? I know what I believe.

Edited by Acro
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I do not think goldfish can feel sadness. However, I do think that if there's a change in their environment (something they're accustomed to goes away, or something new happens) they can often react by bottom sitting, because the change stresses them.

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i am not sure that they do. mine certainly didn't.. i think if you see a reaction, it could be a change to the bioload that they are trying to adjust to? i think that after a day or so their normal routine should kick back in again. then there is also the possibility of if it's experiencing the same as the one removed to qt at early stages.

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I think they do, i believe they are more intelligent then we think.

How come they know when its feeding time.

How come they get excited when they hear your voice

How come they can become used to a water change

I know they are meant to have few mins memory but that cant be correct as they would never come close to hand when feeding or they would stay away as they first do when you bring em home.

Mine know me when i open the door and say hello chaps its feeding time.

might be mad but my fish know me i think you have to train em with clicking sounds or vocals they even say plants will grow better when correctly cared for.

Who knows.

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How come they know when its feeding time.

How come they get excited when they hear your voice

It's most likely a conditioned response, a la Pavlov's dogs.

I know they are meant to have few mins memory but that cant be correct as they would never come close to hand when feeding or they would stay away as they first do when you bring em home.

Actually, research has proven that goldfish can remember things for several months.

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yeah would agree, they even can be trained seen some vids on u tube they are not that stupid they know who the carer is im sure of that, and they know who is goign to hurt em or not they are so clever in deciding.

One memory springs to mind for me and im sure the fish new when i first started keeping goldies i messed up big time bought wood from pets at home had a fungus underneath i never boilded the wood and i had to euth 3 of em one hid behind a rock had never done that before in 3 months im sure he/she knew i was going to kill him.

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I like to think my fish do have feelings including sadness (I know... silly human anthropomorphizing everything, lol), I think that if nothing else, a change in behavior, whether actually related to true emotion or just an inherent reaction to a change in some variable in their environment, is a notable thing :)

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I like to think my fish do have feelings including sadness (I know... silly human anthropomorphizing everything, lol), I think that if nothing else, a change in behavior, whether actually related to true emotion or just an inherent reaction to a change in some variable in their environment, is a notable thing :)

Agree :carrot:

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