Do Fish Have Tears?

Tears are the product of human emotion when they engage in crying behavior. In most cases, animals can express feelings too, such as grief and joy, and they can produce tears but only to lubricate their eyes. It is different when talking about aquatic fishes.

Do fish have tears? Fish don’t produce tears while living underwater, and they do not engage in behavior such as crying. Crying is an emotional state only by big-brained mammals. Also, fish doesn’t have the cerebral cortex and the limbic system that deals with emotion.

A Must-Read: Best Fly Fishing Net

In this article, you will find about fish behaviors and why they don’t develop tears.

Fish Anatomy

Fish doesn’t have a cerebral cortex, and it is neurologically that allows other animals to produce tears. It is unique to mammals alone. It means that fish cannot cry and therefore, cannot produce tears. They lack both mental capacity and emotional depth. Above all, fish eyes are already saturated in water, which makes tears unrealistic physiologically. Tears are meant to lubricate eyes, but for fishes that won’t be necessary.

A fish has a limbic system, but it still doesn’t help them produce tears underwater. It doesn’t have biological systems to produce them in general.

The Lack Of Cerebral Cortex

Cerebral vortex is part of mammal’s nervous systems, which aquatic fishes don’t have. This part of the brain allows mammals to have complex cognitive abilities. The ability to cry and developed tears can be both blessing and a curse for most aquatic fishes. Tears are a sign of superior intelligence but also a neuroticism and sentimental vulnerability. However, the ability to cry is a hallmark of natural selection and evolution.

Emotional State

Even though they cannot produce tears, that doesn’t mean they are not capable of other emotions. Fish can feel joy at feeding time and delight when playing with other fish. They can also feel sadness and depression. It just means that they are simple creatures with simple needs.

As simple it might be, it needs to be taken care of. Fishes are prone to an overall negative state, both physically and emotionally, which is particularly true to pet fish. It is because their territory will always be depending on their owner’s capabilities. Improper conditions, feeding, and aquarium setup, can lean to sadness. While fish may not be able to cry and produce tears, their emotion and requirements must be taken seriously for them to be happy.


Overall, fish don’t shed a tear, but that doesn’t mean they lack feelings in general. It just means that they do not possess the intricate nervous system which is required for contemplation and deep emotions. They still experience unhappiness if they are kept in an environment, not meeting their needs.

Luckily, it is not hard to please them. Once you’re able to meet up to their standards, it will show in their physique and quality of life. Personally, it will make them very happy, so they do not need to shed any tears at all.