The Boredom of a Fish


The life of a fish in an aquarium must be boring.  They have no chance to do anything other than swim around the tank all day, looking out into a world they will never know.  But their world is meant to be the aquarium.  A typical fish owner will attempt to make the tank a suitable habitat for the fish and a decoration for humans to marvel at, however, it is likely that the life of the fish will become boring as they adjust to their surroundings. This is what domestication of any animal as a pet is like.  The owner makes a home for the animal, but yet it seems as though the owner gets the most benefit.

As a fish owner I find myself staring at my aquarium wondering if my fish get bored and what they do when I’m gone.  I imagine that they continue to swim around with no apparent purpose, as if they are looking for something but don’t quite know what it is that they are trying to find. They follow each other, examining the walls of the tank, as if they were plotting a way to break through. After, they may swim to the other side, or maybe around the plants, then end up in the exact same area as before, not realizing that they were there 10 seconds ago.  I assume that the cause of this behavior is due to their very short attention span.  They must have at least some capacity for memory though.  They have an innate memory that allows them to recognize food and predators. This is different from learned memory, which would involve recognizing the aquarium and its surroundings.

The most exciting part of the day for my fish must be when they are fed. For the moment it gives them something to do that has purpose.  They dart as if they have a definitive idea of what they’re doing.  This is different from the aimless manner in which they swim at other times.

If they were able to think about boredom I think that they would be bored.  There is no variation in their daily routine.  They swim around the tank, which doesn’t change; they eat; and then swim some more.  It would take them a mere minute to become familiar with the entire tank.  They don’t get bored though, because of their short memory.

I feel bad for them because they are restricted to the tank their entire lives swimming around with nothing important to do.  Their routine is the same everyday and will spend the rest of their lives swimming around in 5 gallons of water.

To be a fish would be great though. They swim around the aquarium all day with nothing to accomplish except to exist.  They seem carefree, oblivious to the struggles of life. They’re free to do whatever they want; they have no schedule.

I believe that although the life of a fish seems boring and is repetitive, to fish it isn’t.  The main reason for this is because they don’t know any better. They have no concept of what boredom is, so they can’t realize that they’re bored.  Further, their short memory would prevent them from getting bored because most of what they do would be forgotten and most things would seem new even if they weren’t.



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