Reversible changes in how readily animals fight can be explained in terms of adaptive responses to differences in the costs and benefits of fighting. In contrast, long-term differences in aggressiveness raise a number of questions, including why animals are consistent with respect to this trait, why aggressiveness is often linked to general risk taking, and why aggressive and non-aggressive animals often coexist within a population. In fish, different levels of aggressiveness bring several direct fitness-related consequences, such as when aggressive individuals monopolize a limited food supply and grow fast. They also bring indirect consequences, such as when aggressive fish are more susceptible to predation and when they require a larger respiratory surface to service a higher metabolic rate. Fitness consequences of aggressiveness are often context dependent, with aggressive fish tending to do well in simple, predictable conditions but not in complex, less predictable conditions. The diverse, context-dependent consequences of aggression mean that aggressive and non-aggressive fish flourish in different conditions and explain in general terms why these behavioral phenotypes often coexist. There are a number of candidate evolutionary frameworks for explaining why individual differences in aggressiveness are often, but not always, consistent over time and often, but not always, linked to differences in general risk taking.