HomeAquarium FishDo Fish Have Brains? - How Do They Think!

Do Fish Have Brains? – How Do They Think!

Do fish have brains? This is precisely the question many of us have pondered at various points in our lives.

The conduct and movements of the fish are pretty charming. But is there a brain behind all their activities that directs them?

This area remains to be investigated, something we will delve into in this article.

To the question, “Do fish have brains,” the response is a definite “Yes.”

The fish’s brain serves as one of the most vital organs, fulfilling all their essential survival functions and responding as needed. While a fish’s brain might not be as sophisticated or robust as that of humans or other creatures, they indeed possess a form of intelligence.

Do Fish Have Brains?


Fish definitely have brains, just like other animals with backbones, and their brains help them move, act quickly to things, and deal with scary or stressful situations.

They can even remember things, learn, and adapt. Some studies even show that fish can recognize people’s faces and pay attention to details.

Even though they are small compared to other animals, fish brains are unique. Some fish are thought to be not very bright, while others are brilliant. Fish brains might be tiny, but they are good at handling information.

Fish brains can’t do the math, but they can help fish move around with great skill.

The Function of the Brain in Fish

The brains of fish are amazing. They help fish with three main things:

  • Moving their bodies
  • Quick reactions
  • Dealing with stress or danger

Let’s explore these functions:

Controlling Physical Tasks

The brain helps fish control their bodies. It helps them move, use their muscles well, and balance them. It sends messages to different body parts to help fish swim, eat, and avoid danger. Here’s how:

Motor Control: The brain sends electric messages to muscles to help fish move.

Sensory Integration: Fish use what they see and feel to move correctly. The brain takes all this information and makes the right decisions.

Muscle Coordination: To turn fast or speed up, fish need their muscles to work together. The brain helps with that.

Balance and Orientation: The brain helps fish stay balanced in the water.

Some fish have particular parts to help them do specific tasks. For example, electric fishes use weak electric fields to find their way.

A long time ago, scientists discovered that some fish, like catfish and sharks, can feel weak electric fields in the water. This helps them find food or their way in dark or dirty water.

Reflexive Actions

Fish brains help them react quickly without thinking. This helps them escape danger or catch food. Here’s how:

Reflex arcs: These are paths in the brain that help fish react quickly.

Protective responses: If a fish senses danger, it might swim away or hide.

Autonomic functions: These are things that happen without thinking, like breathing.

Coordination and agility: The brain helps fish move easily and quickly.

Understanding fish reflexes helps us learn how they stay alive and what makes them innovative.

Signs of Intelligence

Fish can remember things, think, and learn new skills. Let’s look more closely:

Acquiring And Storing Memory

Fish can remember things through their senses, like sight and smell. Here’s how:

Fish can make memories and keep them in the brain.

A part of the brain called the hippocampus helps store memories.

Fish can use memories to react to certain things or cues.

Fish can change their behavior based on what they have learned before.

Some fish have extraordinary memory abilities. A study in the 1970s showed that some fish could remember dangers for several weeks.

Retrieving and Processing Information

Fish are good at getting and understanding information from their surroundings. Here’s how:

Sensory Perception: Fish have particular parts to see, feel, and taste things in the water.

Neural Processing: The brain takes all this information and helps the fish know what to do.

Memory Formation: Fish can remember what they have learned.

Decision Making: Fish use their knowledge to decide what to do next.

Some ways to help fish get and use information better are:

  • Giving them exciting places to live
  • Training them
  • Feeding them well
  • Learning and Adaptability

Fish can learn and adapt to new situations. Here’s what they can do:

  • Recognize things that happen again and again
  • Learn by watching others
  • Solve problems
  • Change their behavior
  • Think in different ways
  • Remember things for a long time

Recognizing Humans

Fish can recognize human faces, and this is an exciting part of their brain. They can see different faces and remember them, and can even tell one person from another by looking at their faces.

An incredible story about this is about a fish in an aquarium. The fish would always go to one worker and not others. Even when the worker wore different clothes or changed their appearance, the fish still knew who they were.

Fish might not see as well as we do, but they can notice things even better than some people we might know.

Brain Size in Fish

Fish brains and their size are fascinating. The size of a fish’s brain is related to how big and heavy the fish is, which can tell us how smart they might be. Looking at this can help us learn more about how fish brains grow and make us rethink what we know about how bright fish are.

New research shows that fish might be more intelligent than we once thought. Let’s take a closer look at what we know about fish brains!

also read: Are Puffer Fish Poisonous To Touch?

Fish as Smarter Than Expected

Fish are showing that they’re smarter than we first thought. They have basic survival skills and can do more complicated things too. Research shows that fish can remember things, think about information, and learn new things.

This tells us that fish have ways to move around their world that are surprising. They can even know who people are by looking at their faces, and they notice small things we didn’t think they could see before.

Interestingly, the size of a fish’s brain compared to its body sometimes tells us how smart it is. Even if a fish has a smaller brain than others, it can still solve challenging problems and behave in complicated ways.

Get ready to be surprised by these fish, from the not-so-smart gulper shark to the very smart mantas and the super-smart elephant nose fish!

Fun Facts About Fish Brains

Fish brains have some exciting and surprising facts. In this part, we’ll talk about some amazing things about different kinds of fish and how smart they are. Get ready to be wowed by what fish can do!

From the gulper shark, which isn’t very smart, to the super-smart mantas, and the high-IQ elephant nose fish, you’ll learn about all kinds of different smarts in fish. Prepare to be shocked!

The Dumbest Fish – Gulper Shark

The Gulper Shark is thought to be one of the least intelligent fish. It’s famous for not being very bright and has some things that make it different from other fish.

Bad at Solving Problems: The Gulper Shark can’t figure out complex problems because it doesn’t think very well.

No Good Learning Skills: Unlike more intelligent fish, the Gulper Shark doesn’t show many signs of learning or changing.

Simple Reactions: This fish uses quick reactions instead of thinking to deal with what’s around it.

Not Much Memory: The Gulper Shark can’t remember many things.

Even though the Gulper Shark isn’t very bright, every fish keeps nature in balance. Knowing about the smarts and not-so-smarts of different fish helps us understand and enjoy all the different kinds of life in the sea.

Enjoy looking at the fantastic world of sea creatures, and take some time to think about the incredible smarts and abilities that other fish have.

The Smartest Fish – Mantas

Mantas are brilliant fish that makes scientists very interested. These fish show how smart they are in different ways.

Talking in Complex Ways: Mantas have complicated ways of “talking” to each other, showing they’re good at being social.

Good at Solving Problems: Mantas can figure out problems and adapt to different things around them.

Learning New Things: These fantastic fish can learn challenging tasks and like to learn new things.

Knowing Where They Are: Mantas know how to find their way around the big ocean, showing they know where they are.

These intelligent creatures also surprise scientists by knowing who people are by looking at their faces. This adds to all the other ways they’re smart.

New research shows exciting things about how big mantas’ brains are compared to their bodies. This new information makes us rethink what we know about how bright fish are and shows that mantas are among the most intelligent fish.

The ocean is full of amazing creatures like mantas, and we keep learning more about how bright fish are.

The Fish with Highest IQ – Elephant Nose Fish

The Elephant Nose Fish is famous for having the best brainpower among fish. It’s brighter than many other fish types, showing an amazing ability to learn, think through problems, and understand complex ideas. Its brain has special parts that help it be so bright.

This fish’s high IQ comes from how its brain is made. Unlike other fish, this one has a much bigger brain than its body’s size and weight. This giant brain lets it think faster and better, showing it’s more intelligent than we first thought.

Studies have also shown that the Elephant Nose Fish can know who people are, proving how clever it is. It can recognize human faces and even notice small things about how people act.

On top of being so clever, the Elephant Nose Fish is one of the most exciting fish in the water world. Its great skill at solving problems, changing how it acts, and remembering things makes it an extraordinary fish.

Learning about how brilliant the Elephant Nose Fish helps us know more about how fish brains work. Looking at what it can do makes us think more about how all kinds of animals can be intelligent differently.

Learning about this fantastic fish can lead to new ways to study animals and help us understand their thoughts. By knowing and admiring the Elephant Nose Fish’s high IQ, we can keep trying to learn even more about the hidden wonders of life under the sea.

Don’t miss the chance to learn more about one of the most intelligent animals in the water — the incredible Elephant Nose Fish! Get excited and dig deeper by researching how bright this fantastic fish is.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fish have brains: Contrary to popular belief, fish possess brains. Although their brains are not as complex as those of mammals, fish brains still serve essential functions and enable them to perform various tasks.
  • Signs of intelligence: Fish demonstrate intelligence through their ability to acquire and store memory, retrieve and process information, and exhibit learning and adaptability. These behaviors indicate a level of cognitive ability beyond basic reflexes.
  • Diversity in fish intelligence: Different fish species display varying levels of intelligence. Some fish, like the manta ray, exhibit remarkable problem-solving abilities, while others, such as the gulper shark, may be considered less intelligent. The elephant nose fish has been recognized as possessing a high IQ.

FAQs about Do Fish Have Brains?

Do fish have brains?

Yes, fish do have brains, and their brain is one of the most important organs that helps them perform all their survival needs and take action accordingly.

What functions does the fish’s brain perform?

The fish’s brain controls physical tasks like eating, swimming, responding to incidents, and reproducing. It also helps them react to stress, suffering, or pain and makes them run away from potential threats.

Can fish exhibit signs of intelligence?

Yes, fish can exhibit signs of intelligence. They can acquire and store memory, compare and retrieve information, and learn something new. Fish also have long-term memory and can form complex social relationships.

Do fish recognize humans?

Yes, fish can recognize humans, and some fish are even able to detect and differentiate between specific human faces. They have the cognitive ability to pick up various details and nuances, making each individual appear unique.

What is the relationship between brain size and body weight in fish?

The size of a fish’s brain is usually smaller than the size of its body when measured with its body weight. However, fish like mantas have one of the most giant brains among all fish species.

What is the significance of oxygen consumption in African freshwater fish?

The African freshwater fish, specifically the electrogenic elephant nose fish, has the highest brain-to-body oxygen consumption ratio compared to other species. This suggests a higher level of brain activity and potential intelligence.

Fishkeeping Expert
Fishkeeping Expert
With years of collective fishkeeping knowledge, we are pleased to share the tank maintenance tips and fish care advice we've picked up along the way. Fishkeeping Expert is home to all fishkeeping tutorials and guides that will help you keep your fish healthy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Christina Lee Turner on Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp
Fishkeeping Expert on Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp
Fishkeeping Expert on Imagitarium Parasite Remedy
Christina Turner on Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp