Is keeping fish inhumane? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Is keeping fish inhumane?

I know sometimes it is if their needs aren't met. But let's say you keep fish in an appropriately sized tank with appropriate food and plants etc. Is that inhumane? They are still stuck in a glass box no bigger than usually a few hundred gallons at the most, and often times much less with the same scenery. I love my fish and they seem happy, but are they really or do they get bored or depressed?
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 04:12 PM
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I mean, truth be told, I don't think most fish think the way we do in terms of "bored" or "depressed". I don't think its ever good to think of any animal from a human perspective, but rather, try and think about it from the animals perspective, ya know? I don't like to unnecessarily humanize anything, because that then leads to making mistakes.

I feel that as long as you care for them properly, then you are being completely humane.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 04:30 PM
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I found this line interesting:

"having qualities befitting human beings."

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humane

In the way that most would define the word, I would personally say no (not INhumane). Unless you are purposely keeping a nasty tank or not putting forth any effort to maintain a healthy aquarium. The bare minimums of a healthy aquarium ie clean water, is better than what some fish have to live in naturally as pollution and such occurs.

Most here on this forum are spending quite a lot of time, effort, and money to have aquariums that are "perfect" for plants and fish. I could see an argument for the space issue. We try to apply "rules" on how many fish can be kept in x gallons of water.

But as was said above I think to feel depressed/bored/etc a higher level of awareness is required. Do fish have that? I don't know.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 05:04 PM
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As long as their needs are met many fish in the wild stay in a small area. Especially a lot of tropical fish because they are snacks for others.we take out the predator factor,so I would say they are happier

-Chris
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 05:22 PM
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I agree with everyone so far, in terms of endearing animals with human traits is a funny thing to do, especially to that which doesn't have the mental capacity to do so. We may make the observation that if we were to keep a salt water species in a marine tank, we are affectively removing it from a larger tank (the ocean) and moving it to a smaller environment, but truth be told, these animals don't stray too far from where they call home anyways. This can be proven in the results that we see when keeping our fish. Ultimately in the animals longevity. If you are able to keep a fish until or exceeding its potential life expectancy, then you have provided an environment that has caused little to no stress on the animal. I think that its easy to tell when it's inhumane to keep a fish in that you will see the signs of stress, ie hiding/bullying, not eating, sickness/disease. So long as we recognize the fact it is inhumane to keep an animal in such conditions and rectify it, we are providing the best conditions possible.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 06:34 PM
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Well-maintained tanks and tanks properly sized for the occupants aren't inhumane. So in that respect I'm with some of the others here. However, some species are just non-stop grazers and super active non-stop swimmers that cover a lot more territory in the wild. Even meeting their nutritional needs and giving them a clean environment comes up short. Take a walk through a LFS and decide for yourself where that may apply.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 08:19 PM
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My fish are as fat, healthy, and happy as I can mange with my meager skills. When I walk by, they rush to the glass expecting chow. If I stick my hand in the tank, they don't rush away in terror, but seem more curious than anything as to what the heck that 5-headed newcomer is (and does he have any food with him?!?!).

Without delving too deeply into the moral and existential, they seem to be pretty happy with the arrangement.


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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 08:34 PM
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I always have to laugh when people feel that a tank will make fish or shrimp happy because it's attractive to human eyes.

As for it being inhumane, that's a tough one. Many fish we keep actually live longer than they would in the wild but is that good? It' can be easy to justify a fish loss thinking, well, most fish bought in stores don't even last a few days so I do way better than most.

More importantly, you have to remember how most are collected from the wild and shipped. Most don't survive this. I think with many wild caught, freshwater fish, like 1 in 10 actually survive the trip.

Now that doesn't sound humane but what about what we eat, that seems way more inhumane and I am not going to go vegan myself. But, I also don't live somewhere where I could raise my own food, really kill my own food on a regular basis so that won't work either.

Every time I have a big mishap, I do stop keeping fish for awhile myself, unless enough survive that need to be in a school.

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 08:55 PM
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This may have much more to do with the keeper than the kept. I suspect that most of the forum member take great pride in their fish (and tanks) and treat their fish very well. The fish in forum members' tank prosper and have good lives, maybe unnaturally so (free of predators, parasites and disease, with regular meals, and well maintained climates.) Maybe the 'good life' is form of mistreatment equal to the neglect we all have witnessed in others' tanks. Looking at the tanks for sale on Craig's list, just makes me sad, or even at the local Chinese restaurant (over stocked, low in water, devoid of all environmental features expect glass walls.)

The question "Is keeping fish humane?" cast a far to large net. The question "Who treats their fish humanely?" maybe better focused.

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 09:07 PM
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I don't think it's inhumane to keep fish in an appropriate environment. What bothers me a bit is the number of fish that are lost from being caught, shipped, etc. I probably don't want to know the ratio of fish it takes to end up with 1 good specimen in my planted tank.

The flip side of the coin is that all those fish were not going to live long, happy lives in their natural environment anyways. That's just the way nature is. Only a select few ever reach adulthood and die of "old age". So as long as a species is managed properly (not over caught, inbred, etc), I try not to dwell on it. Rather, I look at the fish in my tank as having "won the lottery" and I do my best to ensure they have good care. That is humanity at it's finest imho.
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 09:12 PM
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Grumble69, good thoughts! Thanks for sharing.
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 09:25 PM
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If anything all you have done is help the fish live a longer, healthier, well fed life! Instead of the everyday struggle of the wild haha, also anything is better then the tanks at the LFS with their heavily overstocked cramped storage tanks.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 10:07 PM
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If 'inhumane' translates into 'contrary to human nature' and human nature is to kill, then keeping fish alive is inhumane.

Personally, if your fish does not have internet access, then it's inhumane.

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 10:10 PM
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Either way it doesn't matter... They're still gonna show up in the pet store. If you're really concerned about it, you'll likely give them a better home than another person would.

It'd be inhumane not to buy fish.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 10:30 PM
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I don't really think that it is inhumane at all, if like you have stated that have the correct conditions and other requirements that are met. In the wrong conditions it is cruel to an extent since you are slowly killing them and you can tell when something is wrong with them just as you can tell when something is wrong with almost any other animal.

Fish don't really have the emotions that we do, although sometimes I think that they do with the way they can act after they somewhat attach to you and you can see their personality (at least with a female betta fish I could see one completely). Without you buying them and/or taking care of them the right way, someone else would and may not be doing such a good job as you could have (so just be happy that they are happy, and don't really over think the whole situation).
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