How Long Can a Fish Live Out of Water? (7 Shocking Facts)

Have you ever wondered about the life expectancy of a fish? How long can a fish live out of water before eventually dying?

Many people might assume that this depends on what type of species we’re talking about, and indeed it does.

But surprisingly enough, there are some pretty shocking facts regarding how long a fish can stay alive once removed from their natural habitat.

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In this article, we will explore seven pieces of interesting information concerning the longevity of aquatic animals out of their watery home – with some results you may never have expected! Read on to find out more.

Can Fish Breathe Out of Water?

Can a fish breathe out of water? In short, yes, they can – but not for long. To survive out of the water, fish must obtain oxygen from the air surrounding them instead of through their gills (which extract oxygen from the water).

They achieve this by gulping air directly into their mouths and absorbing oxygen into fish’s bloodstream.

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However, this air-breathing ability is limited. Fish can only breathe this way for a few minutes before they become exhausted and die due to lack of oxygen.

Fish bring in oxygen through their gills, allowing them to live and breathe underwater.

In contrast to humans, whose respiratory systems are centered around the lungs, fish have tiny blood vessels that line the surface of their gills to process water efficiently.

Do Fish Suffocate Out of Water?

Does being out of water hurt fish? No, it doesn’t – but it can cause them to suffocate if left for too long.

Fish are creatures of the depths, and though some hardy varieties may survive temporarily in the air, most species need to keep their gills wet or risk suffocation.

Once out of the water, their delicate respiratory system quickly shuts down; with no exposure to oxygen-rich air, any longer precious blood vessels become too constricted for survival.

Can Fish Survive on Land?

Can fish live on land? Again, the answer is yes – but only for a short time. While some species can survive in low-oxygen environments, most fish need plenty of oxygen to stay healthy and alive.

When placed on dry land for extended periods, these species quickly succumb to suffocation, heat exhaustion, and dehydration – all of which can be fatal.

For a fish to survive on land, it must be able to access moisture (usually from dew or rain) and oxygen.

Some aquatic creatures, like amphibious fish, possess extraordinary capabilities of hydric adaptations, allowing them to survive on land for extended periods.

Amphibious fish can excrete salt from their bodies and survive in freshwater, so they can also spend short amounts of time being active on dry land.

How Long Can a Fish Live Out of Water?

How long can a fish live outside of water? Fascinatingly, fish have evolved to survive outside of water for varying lengths. Depending on their species, some can remain out of water anywhere from minutes up to months!

The longest surviving fish recorded was a goldfish, which survived for 18 months after being removed from its tank.

This remarkable feat, however, is an outlier. Most other fish can survive anywhere from a few minutes to several hours outside of water, depending on their size and species.

7 Facts about How Long Can Fish Survive Out of Water

  • Some fish can survive for several weeks out of the water, while others can last only a few minutes.
  • Fish typically require moisture and oxygen to stay alive outside the water.
  • The longest surviving fish recorded was a goldfish that lasted 18 months after being removed from its tank!
  • Fish can only breathe air directly into their mouths for a few minutes before becoming exhausted and dying due to lack of oxygen.
  • Most fish need to keep fish’s gills wet or risk suffocating when out of the water.
  • Some fish species can survive in low-oxygen levels, while others require plenty of oxygen to stay alive.
  • Fish have evolved to survive out of the water for varying lengths of time, depending on their species.

As you can see, there are several unique and fascinating facts regarding how long a fish can live out of the water! From goldfish lasting 18 months to some surviving for mere minutes, it’s clear that this species is incredibly resilient!

So the next time you take a fish out of the water, remember to take all necessary precautions. Ensure they’re kept moist, get enough oxygen, and aren’t exposed to extreme temperatures – only then will you be able to ensure their health and well-being!

How Long Can Fish Survive Without Oxygen?

How long does it take for fish to die without oxygen? While it may come as a surprise, aquarium fish can stay alive for two days in still water without oxygen – all the while completing their daily tasks and taking occasional breaths of air.

The amount of time for this depends on the species, size of the fish, and environmental conditions.

Can a Fish Come Back to Life After Being Out of Water?

Can fish come back to life after being out of water? Unfortunately, this is not possible.

Once a fish has been outside its natural habitat for too long, it will not survive.

The fish will become weak and lethargic once deprived of oxygen, and its organs may be damaged beyond repair.

Its chances of recovery are incredibly slim, no matter how much time it spends in water afterward.

What Fish Can Survive Out of Water?

What types of fish can survive out of water? While many other fish species can only withstand short periods outside their natural habitats, some are much harder than others.

The mudskipper, for instance, is a fish that can live out of water for hours at a time.

Other species, such as the African lungfish and walking catfish, can survive outside water for short periods.

Lungfish are truly remarkable creatures, with six species possessing limb-like fins which enable them to breathe oxygen.

Some of these aquatic animals rely so heavily on this adaptation that they will drown if deprived of the ability to do so – a testament to their evolutionary success!

Some lungfish have even developed an awe-inspiring capacity. To ensure their survival in harsh environments, they can bury themselves in mud when streams and rivers dry up for months before finally being replenished by rainfall.

These species are equipped with specialized respiratory organs that allow them to breathe air from the surface, and some can also use their pectoral fins to ‘walk’ across the land for short distances.

By understanding the unique adaptations of these species, scientists can gain insight into how fish evolved to live in both water and land environments.

However, it is important to remember that no matter how hardy a species may be, a fish can quickly become weak and disoriented if left out of water for too long.

What Is the Longest a Fish Has Survived Out of Water?

The remarkable mangrove rivulus takes the top spot on this list. Boasting an unheard-of ability among most fish, Defying all odds and expectations held by their aquatic peers, these species can beat long-held notions about air depletion when out of water – surviving up to 66 days!

This feat is enabled by their uniquely adapted respiratory systems that allow the fish to absorb dissolved oxygen directly from the air.

By doing so, the mangrove killifish can survive in conditions and environments that would otherwise be fatal for other fish.

Commonly Asked Questions About How Long Do Fish Live Out of Water (FAQ)

How Long Can a Koi Fish Live Out of Water?

Koi fish can survive up to 5 minutes outside of water, depending on the temperature and environmental conditions.

How Long Can a Snakehead Fish Live Out of Water?

Snakeheads can survive in oxygen-deprived environments, such as stagnant ponds, and even out of water for up to four days. This remarkable adaptation allows them to thrive where many other aquatic species cannot.

How Long Can Walleye Survive Out of Water?

A fishing trip recently revealed the tremendous tenacity of walleye and pike. After being removed from the water, these species can continue fighting for survival – up to 30 minutes in some cases! On this particular excursion, one large-sized walleye made a daring dash back into its aquatic home by flipping itself out of a bucket and trying to reach several lake feet away.

How Long Can a Betta Fish Live Out of Water?

Betta fish are typically able to thrive in their natural environments for a limited time, usually no longer than 1-2 hours. After that window has elapsed, it is important to return them ASAP, as they will quickly begin struggling without the support provided by their tank environment.

How Long Can a Saltwater Fish Survive Out of Water?

Saltwater fish are generally more sensitive to environmental changes and cannot survive outside water for as long as some freshwater fish species. For saltwater fish, it is best to keep them in the water and safe from harm, as even just a few minutes out of their element can be fatal.

How Long Can a Catfish Live Out of Water?

Catfish are resilient creatures: their skin’s moisture can keep them alive out of water for several hours, while some may still perish almost immediately. Planning is key to ensuring your walking catfish remains safe and healthy!

Which Fish Can Live Without Water for 2 Years?

The impressive lungfish, more commonly known as salamanderfish, has long been regarded for its extraordinary ability to survive extended periods on land without access to water – up to a few years! This remarkable fish can be found in freshwater regions throughout the world.

How Long Can Goldfish Survive Out of Water?

Goldfish are more resilient than one may think. Not only can they survive up to an hour out of the water, but with the help of a bit—even just a puddle’s worth—that window stretches even further. In some cases, goldfish have endured for as long as three hours outside their tank!

How Long Can a Fish Live Without Food?

Healthy aquarium fish are remarkable creatures that can survive days to weeks without food! Depending on the species, some pet fish have been known to go for over two weeks under these conditions. An adult’s endurance is truly astounding!

How Long Can Fish Stay Out of Water Before They Die?

How Long Can a Fish Be Out of Water Before It Dies? Survival is a remarkable trait amongst some species of fish – with certain types able to thrive out of water for an impressive span, ranging from mere minutes up to several months! Variables such as the habitat and exertion during capture can also determine how long these creatures can last.

Can a Fish Survive in Milk?

No, a fish cannot survive in milk. Milk is unsuitable for aquatic wildlife, as it does not contain dissolved oxygen or other vital elements that fish need to stay. Furthermore, the high fat and lactose content of dairy can be detrimental to the health of a fish.


So, how long can fish live out of water? It is a common misconception that fish will die shortly after being removed from the water. However, as our experiment showed, this is only sometimes the case. Fish can live out of the water for extended periods, so long as they are kept moist, and their bodies are not allowed to dry out. While fish can survive outside of the water, removing them from their natural habitat for prolonged periods is not advisable.

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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