Question: how long can a fish live without water?

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  1. This question makes me sad! I used to keep fish as pets, but I didn’t have much luck and they kept dying on me… anyways…

    Fish need oxygen to survive. Water contains oxygen that has dissolved in it from oxygen gas, and fish gills can extract the dissolved oxygen gas out of the water. Fish don’t have the right anatomy to extract oxygen from the air, so a fish out of water only lasts a few minutes.

    Unless you’re a mangrove killifish. These fish are freaky! They can survive out of water for more than a month. They live in tropical mangrove forests in the Caribbean and areas of South America. Scientists think that when mangrove killifish are out of water they can use their skin to absorb oxygen from the air. And then when they go back into the water, they can use their gills again. Amazing!


  2. Basically, as long as it can hold it’s breath plus the time it takes to suffocate.

    We have lungs, which take the oxygen we need out of the air. Lungs can’t take oxygen out of the water, if we try to breath water we drown.

    Most fish don’t have lungs (lung fish do), but all fish have gills which are used to extract oxygen out of the water. Fish can breath water but not air, the opposite to us. If you take a fish out of water it can’t breath, so once it runs out of oxygen it starts to suffocate.

    My experience as a fisherman says it takes fish a couple of minutes for a fish to suffocate. This is nasty way to die, which is why I kill my fish when I catch them.

    Note that some animals that live in the water, like dolphins and whales are not fish, but mammals. This means they have lungs like us and cannot breath underwater. They come to the surface for air and then hold their breath to go under water. If they get stuck underwater they drown just like us.