Laterality and fish welfare – a review

Flavia Berlinghieri, Paolo Panizzon, Iestyn Penry-Williams, Culum Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Humans interact with fishes in many contexts including aquaculture, scientific study and companion animals. In all of these contexts, fish welfare can be compromised through anthropogenic means. Concern for fish welfare has grown considerably in recent years, with many states and territories now protecting fish through animal welfare regulations. We are not only morally obliged to ensure good welfare of animals in our care, but increasingly required to do so by law. A greater understanding of fish behaviour can lead to the development of welfare indicators. Here we suggest that laterality has wide-spread consequences for fish behaviour and a better understanding of how laterality shapes and interacts with fish behaviour may provide opportunities to enhance fish welfare. Moreover, assessment of laterality through behavioural assays may well be a useful welfare indicator in its own right given the close apparent link between laterality, personality and stress reactivity. Here we review the current research investigating laterality in fishes and highlight instances which may have important consequences for fish welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105239
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Lateralisation
  • Welfare
  • Behaviour
  • Coping styles
  • Cognitive bias
  • Aquaculture


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