Can Fish Understand Human Language & Gestures?

We don’t live in some kind of fantasy Disney movie to believe all animals can understand human language. But we still chat with our pets, don’t we?

If you’re a fish whisperer, then you may be interested in finding out if your fish can understand what you’ve been communicating with it all this while.

Do Fish Communicate With Humans?

As a pet parent, I love talking to my pets, and I’m assuming that you also do. Pets like dogs, cats, pigs, elephants and chimps understand the human language if they are trained.

But, can fish understand human language?

Sadly, no. There has been no evidence to prove that fish can remotely decipher the human language. They may recognize human faces and actions but not understand a word of what is being verbally told. 

Coming to non-verbal communication like gestures, fish may, however, understand some bits of it.

With time, the fish will start recognizing your voice and respond to it.

People who are aquarium enthusiasts and love aquatic creatures would often find themselves talking to their companions. So, does the fish hear them talk? 

They actually do! They may not understand what exactly is being said, but the actions involved with the talking definitely gives them an idea of what’s going to happen in the next few moments. 

For example, as soon as you speak to them before you feed them, they’ll all swim to the top. They know that you’re here to feed them. 

Also, when you put your fingers on the glass of the tank, they’re likely to approach you where you’ve placed your finger. Aren’t fishes such adorable keepers? 

Can Fish Show Affection to Humans?

Everyone loves affection, whether that’s coming from humans or animals. While it may not be possible to pet a fish like how you usually pet dogs and cats, it is possible to give them the attention they’re asking for. How? Keep reading.

Fish do not like to be touched, in general. They’re repulsive of human touch.

But they also love attention. They only want to be loved in the way they like and need to be comfortable at all times. 

So, if you’re going to show some affection, be gentle with it. Never take the fish out of the tank when you want to pet or scratch it.

You can put your clean hand inside the tank instead and scratch its body lightly with your palm. 

If the fish liked your scratch, it’d come back for more. That’s how they show their affection.

One of the most affectionate fish towards human beings is the Flowerhorn Cichlids.

Can Fish Understand Human Language?

Do Fish Like Human Contact?

This depends on the breed of fish. Definitely, not all fish like to be petted or have human contact. But some fish like the Catfish and Midas Cichlid enjoy being touched. 

It is a basic character among animals to gravitate towards desirable actions and things. They know exactly what they don’t like and quickly retreat back from something they don’t desire.

So, if your touch isn’t making your fish happy, you will know from the way it reacts. If they are used to your touch, it won’t bother them whenever you scratch, stroke and pet them.

There are fishes who get really scared when you touch them so, always remember to be gentle. 

Can Fish Recognize Its Owners?

We may underestimate the fish a little when we say they only exist to go behind food and aimlessly swim the whole day. They don’t have complex brains like human beings, but some large fish can remember and recognize the human face. 

Honestly, the lack of scientific studies makes room for doubt, but many experiences shared by pet owners and aquarium enthusiasts have shown the possibility of fish recognizing their owners. 

Many years ago, a study found that a certain type of fish called the archerfish has a super ability to recognize the human face. 

Can Fish Hear?

One of the most common concerns that fish pet owners want to know is – can fishes hear humans? 

Almost all of us, including myself, thought that fish don’t have ears until I really looked up their anatomy. And guess what? Fish have ears. 

They’re not particularly like human being’s ears, but they’re on the sides and located inside their head.

Fun fact: Human beings’ ears are thought to have evolved from fish gills. 

Fish usually pick up sounds from the water as they swim and sometimes get quite attracted to specific vibrations and sounds. Hence, they may react to your voice and even start recognizing it. 

Not just that, but fish can react differently to music too! However, if your music is too loud for your aquarium fish, then it may cause anxiety and stress to them. 

Can Fish Recognize Their Name?

I don’t think it’s possible for fish to learn their names. It is granted that they’re highly capable of associating their owner with food, but beyond that, I don’t think they care so much about the name.

However, it is likely that they understand your expression and behavior when you’re calling out their name. This is because most fish are aware whenever they’re being looked at.

When you constantly keep looking at them, they even tend to change their behavior.

One thing is for sure that displaying a distinctive facial look while particularly calling its name can have some kind of effect on the fish.

It may get accustomed to the look and enjoy the attention that you only give it and nobody else. 

As a result, the fish may start recognizing this particular behavior/expression along with calling its name and react to it in a certain manner. 


Can Fish Communicate With Each Other?

Yes, fish communicate with each other consistently.

Fishes use different mediums to communicate with each other such as bioluminescence, smell, motion, coloration, sound, and electric impulses.

Usually, they communicate with their fins, but there’s a video by BBC that explains how fish make chirp, whoop and crackle sounds to communicate. 

Can Fish Understand English?

It would be quite unlikely that fishes would understand any language, let alone English.
Scientists have been working hard to understand the cognitive behavior of these aquatic animals, but there’s still no proof of fish understanding human language. 

They can, however, remember the voice, face and other attributes of individuals.
When it comes to linguistic skills, fishes are not bright enough to understand any word of a language.

Can Betta Fish Recognize Its Owners?

Yes, bettas are gifted like that! They can recognize the face and voice of their owner even if the owner stands among other people.
It is likely that the betta fish will swim towards its owner when being called by its owner.

Can Goldfish Recognize Its Owners?

Unlike betta fish, goldfish may or may not recognize its owner.
But in most cases, it will. With a 3 months memory span, it is likely that your goldfish will remember you if you’re the one interacting and feeding them every day.

Can Fish Understand Signs?

No, most likely, a fish will not understand signs by human beings.
Captive fishes tend to recognize voices and faces but not too many signs.
If you place your fingers on its tank, it may rush towards it as a response, but beyond that, it’s hard to tell if they understand any hand gestures.

What Fishes Can Understand Humans?

There are no fish that understand human beings in terms of verbal communication. However, fish may respond to actions and facial expressions.

What Language Do Fish Speak?

Fishes use sounds to communicate. Noises like chirps, pops and grunts can be a fish’s language.

Final Thoughts 

It’s not the best feeling in the world when you can’t talk to your little swimming buddies as you would like to.

But knowing that they can recognize your face and voice is such an amazing thing!

That makes the fish a rather very intelligent creature to keep as pets and adore them for their communicative attributes.