The mission

For us, behaviour is the most important indicator of the welfare state of an individual. By describing the behaviour of aquatic animals in the wild and in captivity, we aim to assess the species’ potential on the welfare continuum.

Because we rely on scientific sources, this gives us the reliable, valid, and objective basis for recommendations on how to avoid harm and how to improve welfare.

The goal is to bridge the gap between science and the stakeholders in the aquaculture and fisheries sector: producers, fishing people, certifiers, retailers, NGOs, policy makers, and consumers.


In our definition of welfare, we follow Broom (1986): “The welfare of an individual is its state as regards its attempts to cope with its environment.” Thus, welfare may be perceived as a continuum on which an individual rates “good” or “bad” or everything in between.

In our understanding, good fish welfare is guaranteed if a fish may live up to the potential of the species and develop its individuality. Or, in the words of the Swiss Animal Welfare Law, if the dignity of the animal, i.e., its intrinsic value, is respected. If the farmer lets the fishes live up to their species’ potential and develop their individuality, allowing space also for positive experiences including playing, the farmer is automatically minimising pain, suffering, and stress. If, on the other hand, the farmer concentrates all efforts on reducing pain, suffering, and stress of the fishes, they will not necessarily live up to their potential.

Our approach

We pursue what could be called a combination of a function-based, feelings-based, and nature-based approach to welfare,

  • valuing not only the freedom from injuries and stress (function-based approach) but
  • supporting attempts to provide rewarding experiences and cognitive challenges (feelings-based approach) as well as
  • arguing for enclosures that mimic the wild habitat as best as possible and allow for natural behaviour (nature-based approach).


In the fair-fish database, each species is presented by an Overview, introducing the most important information to know about the species, including common names, images, distribution, habitat and growth characteristics, swimming aspects, reproduction, social behaviour but also handling details.

Depending on whether the species is farmed or wild caught, you will be directed to either of our databases.

fair-fish database/farm
Founded in 2013, the fair-fish database/farm focuses on farmed aquatic species.

fair-fish database/catch
Founded in 2022, the fair-fish database/catch focuses on wild-caught aquatic species.

fair-fish database / farm

In the Findings, we collect all available ethological findings (and more) on the most important aspects during the life course, both biologically and concerning the habitat. In contrast to the Overview, we present the findings in detail citing the references.

Based on the Species profile, we conclude to-be-preferred farming conditions in the Recommendations. They are not meant to be as detailed as a rearing manual but instead, challenge current farming standards and often take the form of what not to do.

The Short profile is a condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

fair-fish database / catch

More coming soon!


Studer, Billo Heinzpeter. 2020. Farmed fishes: Why so many? Fish welfare: why so late? In Fish welfare in aquaculture - Problems and approaches, ed. Billo Heinzpeter Studer, 45-55. Germany: IGN - International Society of Livestock Husbandry.

Volstorf, J. 2020. Knowledge as prerequisite for fish welfare — FishEthoBase as a basis. In Fish welfare in aquaculture - Problems and approaches, ed. Billo Heinzpeter Studer, 45-55. Germany: IGN - International Society of Livestock Husbandry.

Saraiva, João L, Pablo Arechavala-Lopez, Maria Filipa Castanheira, Jenny Volstorf, and Billo Heinzpeter Studer. 2019. A Global Assessment of Welfare in Farmed Fishes: The Fishethobase. Fishes 4(2), 30: 1-18. doi:10.3390/fishes4020030