Copyright © 2019 Balasch and Tort. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. In the last decade, the concept of animal stress has been stressed thin to accommodate the effects of short-term changes in cell and tissue physiology, major behavioral syndromes in individuals and ecological disturbances in populations. Seyle’s definition of stress as “the nonspecific (common) result of any demand upon the body” now encompasses homeostasis in a broader sense, including all the hierarchical levels in a networked biological system. The heterogeneity of stress responses thus varies within individuals, and stressors become multimodal in terms of typology, source and effects, as well as the responses that each individual elicits to cope with the disturbance. In fish, the time course of changes after stress strongly depends on several factors, including the stressful experiences in early life, the vertical transmission of stressful-prone phenotypes, the degree of individual phenotypic plasticity, the robustness and variety of the epigenetic network related to environmentally induced changes, and the intrinsic behavioral responses (individuality/personality) of each individual. The hierarchical heterogeneity of stress responses demands a code that may decrypt and simplify the analysis of both proximate and evolutionary causes of a particular stress phenotype. We propose an analytical framework, the stressotope, defined as an adaptive scenario dominated by common environmental selective pressures that elicit common multilevel acute stress-induced responses and produce a measurable allostatic load in the organism. The stressotope may constitute a blueprint of embedded interactions between stress-related variations in cell states, molecular mediators and systemic networks, a map of circuits that reflect the inherited and acquired stress responses in an ever-changing, microorganismal-loaded medium. Several features of the proposed model are discussed as a starting point to pin down the maximum common stress responses across immune-neuroendocrine relevant physiological levels and scenarios, including the characterization of behavioral responses, in fish.