Are you the one who is always fascinated to observe fish swimming in the sea or aquarium? or, do you always contemplate on the diverse characteristics of fish? If yes then you must have thought on whether a fish can live out of water. Such types of questions may arise to our minds at some or the other point of your life. Some aquarium enthusiasts are worried about keeping their fish out for too long when changing their water. It is surprising to know that there are certain types of fishes who can hang out the water surface and can seemingly breathe the same air as human beings for a longer duration.
How long can a fish survive out of water?
When you put some amount of salt in the water and stir it, it would disappear. However, you can taste it. Similarly, the oxygen present in the seawater is in dissolved form. All species of fishes require oxygen to stay alive. The gills present in the fish’s body functions as the lungs in human beings. These gills possess the special kind of function i.e. they extract oxygen from water and inhale that oxygen for further respiration procedure. Some of the fish species do not possess much anatomy to extract oxygen in the air. Therefore, those species will only last for approximately 4 to 5 minutes on land. If the gills are not functioning properly, they may die within few minutes or even within a few seconds.
The chances of a fish surviving out of the water are decided by the conditions that they are in while out of the water. To understand this, for example, if a fish leaps out of an aquarium and lands on a non-absorbent surface having some water content. Under such cases, it can survive by respiring the water’s dissolved oxygen. It will stay alive as long as its gills stay moist.
Factors deciding the duration of their survival
Basically, the duration a fish can live out of water depends on their species, metabolic rates, and oxygen demand. The fish with slow metabolisms and those that dwell in cold water can typically survive for a longer duration. For fish in cold water, the oxygen demand and the metabolic rates are generally lower. This is the prime reason behind their longer survival outside the water.
The next important factor that decides the duration of survival is the species. There are certain fish species that can breathe without water longer than most. Some of the species will die in a matter of seconds or minutes like pet fish. On the other hand, some can breathe outside water for several hours to several months like the amphibious fish. The important aspect to consider is that the longer you fight a fish, the higher oxygen demand it will have to recover. Therefore, it will require going back into water quickly. To ensure the safety of fish, it is essential to put them back in water as soon as possible.
Different fish species with different survival time outside water
Pet fish possess small bodies and fragile grills. Similar to rainbowfish and goldfish, they are much weaker than saltwater fish. In the absence of water, they would suffocate and may die quickly. Within 3 to 4 minutes without gill movement while outside the water, they will die. Therefore, it is vital that you don’t remove them from water unless the new water is ready for their transfer.
The mangrove killifish (also known as mangrove rivulus) are amphibious in nature. Generally, they are the inhabitants of mangrove forests, located in the Caribbean which is the vast area of South America. They can live for approximately a month without water. Based on research, they could absorb oxygen through their skin while they are outside water. Moreover, they own the ability to store them. When they are back in the water, they simply resume using their gills.
Large Ocean Fish
There are some mammals that are usually confused with fish because they dwell in the ocean. You may have seen the blue whale, short-beaked dolphins, beluga whales, sperm whales, and other large-sized underwater creatures breathing above the surface of water. Actually, they are mammals and so, they will not find many difficulties while breathing out of water. Being mammals, they have lungs and capable to hold their breath for long span of time underwater. It may surprise you but the fact is they can live for months on land. However, they need to return to water to offer appropriate support for their bodies. If not returned, their weight will crush their organs.
The walking catfish are actually the unique species of fish possessing an extra organ assisting their gills to inhale oxygen from natural air. They could also walk or waggle on land by bending their body. Also, they use their pectoral fins to push their body. Therefore, you may observe them on roads after huge rainstorms.
Mudskippers are tiny sized amphibious fish capable to dwell on land for the majority of their lives. Right from their birth, they have skin that comprises of blood vessels around the surface. They are capable to absorb oxygen directly into their bloodstream without respiring through gills or lungs.
The invasive fish is considered as the most amazing kind of fish. Basically, they are small in size and they can live in the absence of water for 5 to 6 days. It is a beautiful scene to watch them crawling on the dry land. They are capable to reside in the dry creek bed of mud for 6 months.
It is clear that different types of fish have different capabilities to survive out of water. One thing is sure i.e. whether you are simply going for a fishing adventure or are simply changing your goldfish’s water, make sure you don’t allow it to suffer for long through water deficit.