And, the answer is yes. Just like humans, goldfish feel pain too.
Whilst the marine creatures can be seen to react to a jab or blow, experts have disagreed over whether the reaction indicates a sensation of pain, or is little more than a basic reflex.
Therefore, researchers, from Norway and the US, embarked on a study to set the record straight.
In the experiment, goldfish were exposed to painful heat. Half of the fish were given a painkilling injection of morphine beforehand, while the other half were not. Two hours later, the fish that had undergone the test without painkillers showed signs of fear and wariness - suggesting that they had suffered a bad experience and remembered it, say researchers.
According to scientists, the finding undermines claims that fish merely display reflex actions and do not sense pain.
"The results show that it could not have been a simple reflex action," The Telegraph quoted Dr Joseph Garner, as saying.
"The fact that their behaviour changed so much really strongly suggests there is something going on with their memory and experience of that event that is not a reflex. I believe it does show that fish feel pain," he added.
The work was carried out by Janicke Nordgreen with colleagues at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and Purdue University. The findings are reported in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.