A fish is any aquatic vertebrate animal that is typically ectothermic (or cold-blooded), covered with scales, and equipped with two sets of paired fins and several unpaired fins. Fish are abundant in the sea and in fresh water, with species being known from mountain streams (e.g., char and gudgeon) as well as in the deepest depths of the ocean (e.g., gulpers and anglerfish).
Food prepared from fish is also called fish, and it is an important food source for humans. They are harvested either from wild fisheries (see fishing) or farmed in much the same way as cattle or chickens (see aquaculture). They are also exploited by recreational fishers and fishkeepers, and are exhibited in public aquaria. Fish have had a role in many cultures through the ages, ranging from deities and religious symbols to the subjects of books and popular movies.
Experiments done by William Tavolga provide evidence that fish have pain and fear responses. For instance, in Tavolga’s experiments, toadfish grunted when electrically shocked and over time they came to grunt at the mere sight of an electrode.
Animal protection advocates have raised concerns about the possible suffering of fish caused by angling. In light of recent research, some countries, like Germany, have banned specific types of fishing, and the British RSPCA now formally prosecutes individuals who are cruel to fish.
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