Study Shows Fish Enjoy Massage

blue-lined-surgeon-fish.jpgEnjoy a good massage? You are not alone. In a recent study published in Nature Communications, scientists at the Lisbon University Institute in Portugal found that coral reef-dwelling surgeonfish also like a good rub down. In the wild, surgeonfish benefit from "cleaner fish," who remove parasites from their skin. But now researchers have discovered that these fish also have lower levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol, when "massaged" by other fish.

"Accepting tactile stimulation may thus function as a successful coping strategy by [surgeon fish] to alleviate the effects of stress and enhance their health ..." researchers said.

The health benefits of touch, like massage therapy, have been demonstrated in a number of animals, including birds and primates, but this is the first study to show that friendly physical contact is also good for fish. While it may be obvious to the casual observer, the more that scientists look into the fascinating world of fish, the more they discover that these animals are as capable of experiencing pleasure and pain as any other animal.

Unfortunately, the commercial fishing industry completely disregards the feelings of countless fish, who are killed for food every year worldwide. Huge fishing trawlers, hundreds of meters long, catch massive numbers of fish, as well as dolphins, birds, turtles and other animals. As the nets are brought up from the depths, fish experience agonizing decompression and severe internal pressures that often rupture their swim bladders, eyes, and stomachs. Farmed fish don't have it any better, as these sensitive animals are forced to live in overcrowded, filthy and often disease-ridden pens before they are suffocated to death or even skinned alive.

Watch MFA's investigation at a Texas fish slaughter facility here:


Luckily, as consumers, each of us has the power to help end the needless suffering of fish and preserve the diversity and well-being of our oceans by adopting a compassionate, vegan lifestyle. Please visit for fish-free recipes, information, and tips on making the switch to a plant-based diet.