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How long can fish live out of the water, well this seems to be the most unreal question? To everyone’s surprise, this is possible and fishes can survive without water for some amount of time. Fishes stay alive out of the water as long as their gills remain moist and enable them to breathe.

Water acts as hydration for the gills, and if gills remain out of water for a long period of time then the air around the gills blow dries the fish gills. This tends to suffocate the fish causing them to die out of the water. Apart from gills, some fishes also have lungs which enable them to inhale oxygen from air and survive outside of water. Such fishes are gifted to remain in both water and land.

Fishes require oxygen to live, however, their lungs are not capable of absorbing oxygen through the air. When fishes are within water, their specialized organs called gills help them extract oxygen and exhale out waste gases in water. For fishes that are capable of surviving in low oxygen water, they can last a lot longer without water. Also, fishes that have oxygen inhaling lungs, they can also stay on air or land for a limited amount of time.

#2, How is the Life of Fishes in Polluted Water?

While it is difficult for fishes to survive without water, it even becomes equivalently difficult for them to live when the water is polluted. The water these days is getting immensely polluted due to varied sewage problems. This has worsened the situations for people and has also made the quality of water to deteriorate drastically. In such a situation fishes that have weak gills, they find it hard to survive and they suffocate quickly to death.

Herein for fishes who are capable of living without water for days or fishes who have lungs have high chances of survival. There are also fishes who stores oxygen within their body, they tend to use it in the polluted water to survive. Apart from that, some fishes having lungs comes up in the air to inhale oxygen and goes inside again with air in the polluted water. While most of the fishes need water, there are fishes that can do without it for some period of time and same has been listed below.

#3, Mammals of Marine

Mammals of Marine

Mammals like fin whales, gray whale, killer whale, dolphin, propose, sea lion, walrus, beluga etc. are fishes that have lungs and are capable of breathing above the surface of the water.

These fishes can live without water for months. It is a normal scenario when we see that dolphins and whales come above the surface of the water, holds their breath for some time and jumps again in the water. The fishes jump into the water to inhale some air and get back to normal.

#4, Mangrove Killifish​

Mangrove Killifish

This is another form of fish which is capable of living without water for a month. Such form of fishes is a bit freaky. They are inhabitants of Caribbean and studies have put forth that their skin can absorb oxygen from the air while they are out of the water. Once these fishes are put again in water, they start using gills to absorb oxygen. Their capability of storing air within themselves enables them to live without water for a long period of time.

#5, Pet Fish

Pet fishes are much weaker than sea fishes that are found in the pond. Considering the fact it is highly advisable to never take them out of water unless it is being transferred to a new aquarium or water place. Pet fishes being smaller in size have gills that are much fragile and feeble. This makes them too vulnerable and also poses them to death quickly. Whenever these fishes are taken out of the water, their gills stop working and fishes tend to suffocate without oxygen. They can survive without water for a maximum time of three minutes. Hence it is important to keep these fishes in water every time to give them a long and healthy life.

#5, Clarias Batrachus

Clarias Batrachus

These fishes also have lungs and are much similar to whales and mangrove killifish. Owing to lungs in these fishes they can easily survive and have vacationed in beaches. Moreover, they also have the capability of surviving in the most humid atmosphere without getting their health impacted.

#6, Invasive Fish​

Invasive Fish

This is a small and most amazing fish which can live without water for almost five to six days in a row. It also has wings which make them crawl on dry sand without any sort of difficulty.

#7, Perched Fish​

Perched Fish

Perched fishes can easily live in the dried up creek for almost half year. These fishes are also known as fresh water fish, but contradictory to their name these fishes can live peacefully in the salty water. Such fishes can live without water for almost three days in a row.


Fishes have different capabilities and their body features decide their fate to live with or without water for a long time. Every fish needs water but there are some fishes that can do without it for a short period of time. We hope above article gave insight on how long can a fish live out of the water and who are those fishes that can do well without it. If in case you have any questions related to the topic, you can leave them in the comments section below.

We shall make sure to answer them at the earliest. For our dear readers who want to enlighten rest of the world with different facts of fishes, don’t forget to share our write up on the internet.

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I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable outdoor experience. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing. To contact Davis, visit the contact page. and About Us.