How long can a fish live out of water?(7 common questions)

In this article, we will briefly answer the question of how long can a fish live out of water? along with different fishes lifespan out of the water and the factors on which the survival of the fish without water depends.

How long can a fish live out of water?

A fish can survive out of water for only 10 minutes. Fishes don’t have their lungs developed to live on land. They have gills developed for only marine land. If they remain on land for a long time, they will suffocate and die.

The answer to the question: how long can a fish live out of water? given above is a general answer and can change depending upon the species.

How long can a catfish live out of water?

The catfish has several species but the most common is Pangasius hypophthalmus, which is native to Vietnam and exported to other countries of the world. They are also known as tropical fish. 

This catfish species can survive only for 45 minutes out of water.

When you catch the fish by a fishing net it makes a growling sound out of the water, you could mistake it with the growling of the dog.

How to keep catfish alive?

A catfish can survive up to 15 to 18 hours depending upon the species you are talking about.

You can keep the catfish alive for a longer period of time by putting it in the bathtub and adding a little salt on it.

Adding salt will pass the fish through the cleansing and detox phase.

If you are a boatman you can use a  live well. Live well are equipped with oxygenators releasing a heavy amount of oxygen to keep the fish alive.

You can also use ice in live well, but be careful if the temperature suddenly increases this will cause the death of fish.

How long can a bass fish live out of water?

A Bass fish can survive for 15 to 20 minutes without water. The survival time depends upon the species and certain factors.

Bass fish

1-Why Bass fish cannot survive for long?

Bass fish have very fragile gills. When the temperature increases the gills stick together and do not allow any kind of oxygen to reach the bloodstream. 

It is like holding your breath in human terminology. So the technical question we should be asking about bass fish is “How long can a Bass fish hold its breath on land before the second catch?”. 

If the water is too hot, the gills of a bass fish stick, and bass fish hold their breath, so these fishes live in cold water.

2-How to increase the lifespan of Bass fish?

You can use a properly aerated live well having temperature-controlled system underwater. The temperature of the water should be controlled and the oxygen supply should be maintained.

The second thing you can do on hot days is to add blocks of ice. This will keep the stress out of the Bass fish and the fish will breathe naturally as in marine water. As compared to trout, Bass still has a longer lifespan.

How long can a Betta fish live out of water?

Betta fish can survive up to 2 hours depending upon the surface it landed. If The fish landed on a surface that can absorb water quickly, it will take less time to die.

Factors on which the Betta fish survival depends:

How long can a Betta fish survive out of water depends upon the following factors:

If the fish falls out of the tank and starts to dry, it will damage its slime coat and fins. But if you put the fish into the water it will come to life again.

The fish will shed its dried-up slime coat and replace it with a new one. The fins however take a long time to heal as compared to slime coats.

It also depends on the height from which the fish has fallen. If the fish falls from a height of six feet or more then the survival chance is less.

If the fish is kept in the glass tank and it breaks when it falls, there is clearly less chance of the fish surviving than any other case.

How long can a Carp fish live out of water?

Carp fish has a special mechanism that scientists have studied. They modify the structure of their gills to live for days to months without oxygen supply still maintaining physical activity.

When the temperature drops and there is a shortage of oxygen supply, they make tranquilizers and alcohol. 

Mechanism of Carp survival:

How long a Carp fish survives out of water depends upon the stored amount of glycogen in their brains. They use it to shift from aerobic to anaerobic respiration known as fermentation. The end product of fermentation is ethanol.

Matti Vornanen, a principal researcher at the University of Joensuu, Finland says, “Carp use carbohydrates stored as glycogen as a source of energy during anoxic conditions’ ‘.

Carp mainly uses the liver as a source of glycogen, which was a primitive fact. The researchers now say that Carp stores 15 fold more glycogen in the brain than in the liver in the colder months like February.

The study conducted also says that the sodium-potassium pump in the brain of the Carp remains intact but lowers its activity by 10 fold to reduce the energy usage during movement.

Their blood has a special affinity for oxygen than all other vertebrates in the world.

Common Carp species live 15 to 20 years in the wild but in captivity, it is reported that they can live for 47 years in captivity.

Factors affecting fish survival without water?

How long can a fish survive out of water depends upon the following factors:


Metabolic rates are the energy required for the survival of a living being. The fish metabolic rate depends upon the temperature of the environment. The fishes that survive in a colder environment have low metabolic rates and are adapted to the colder environment.

There are fish that have special mechanisms to survive in a colder environment despite the low oxygen supply such as Carp fish.


How long can a fish survive out of water depends upon the species of fishes we are talking about. There are amphibious fishes that can survive without water but not for very long.

Some fishes cannot survive even in hot water such as Bass fish.

3-Oxygen consumption:

The lower the requirements of oxygen for a fish the better it survives in a cold environment in the sea.

Low oxygen demand means a low metabolic rate and greater chances of survival of wild fish or aquarium fish.

Different fishes that can breathe without water

Here are some species of fishes that are adapted to breathe without water:


They can grow up to 12 inches. They are amphibious fish. They have their pectoral fins projected forward on their body. Their legs are adapted to move their bodies through mud and climb trees.


Their respiration is carried out through the skin. They have the blood supply on the skin and have the ability to absorb oxygen directly into the bloodstream. The skin blood vessels also help them to move in swamp places from birth.

2-Rockskipper fish:

They can survive on land for several hours. They are famous for their leaping from one rock to another in search of habitat and mates. They are also known as Corel benny.

Due to their leaping and skipping behavior, they are found in shallow water.

3-Walking Catfish:

They can grow up to 20 inches. In markets, they are kept alive in bowls. They are famous because they have the ability to move their body with the help of fins. Their barbels resemble cat whiskers.

They are found in southeast Asia and are adapted to different conditions in the water. They are found in large numbers when the shore is cleaned by the rain or heavy tide.

4-Mangrove Killifish:

They can survive without water for two months and are self-fertilizing creatures. They are found in the marine water of the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans.

They are also amphibious fishes.


They are the descendants of famous Osteichthyes and are adapted to have both lungs and gills. They have lobed fins and complete internal skeletons such as that of Sarcopterygii and undergo a dormancy period known as aestivation, they use only lungs for respiration and can live up to 4 years.

6-Snakehead fish:

They can survive on land for up to six days. They are carnivorous fish that feed on other small fishes, frogs, and rates.

The caretaker of this fish is advised to handle it with great care and attention as it can slip through the hand and target a certain prey.

They have an elongated body and are known as predators. They are found in Asia and Africa.

7-Climbing Perch:

They can survive on land from 6 to 10 hours and they can travel from one place to another in boats. They are like lungfish having both gills and lungs and this makes them resilient in a hardy environment.


In this article, we have briefly answered the question “How long can a fish live out of water?” This article enables the reader to know about the different species of fishes and their lifespan and multiple factors related to how long a fish can survive out of water.

Feel free to ask anything about “How long can a fish live out of water?” in the comment section below.

FAQ; How long can a fish live out of water?

Frequently asked questions of “How long can a fish live out of water?” are:

Can fish survive out of water?

Only amphibious fishes can survive out of water. Andy Turko, the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, says that most of the fishes have developed gills to take in oxygen absorbed in water but there are some fishes like Mangrove Rivulus who can breathe air. They are amphibious fishes.

How long fish survive on land?

Channa Argus, a carnivore invasive fish found in China can survive up to 4 days by breathing air. They can survive even longer when the environment is moist and muddy.

Can a fish come back to life?

Yes, they will come back to life. If you put the weakfish in the fishbowl it will come to life due to the oxygen in the water. He will take the oxygen in through their gills and breathe in water. You can clean the fish by moving it in your hand in the water.

Which fish can live over 100 years?

The Olm can live over 100 years. They are strange creatures under the water. They have lived for over 100 years. They are nicknamed “The human fish”. They are a foot long Salamander living underwater.

Can a fish survive in milk?

No, a fish cannot survive in milk because it contains impurities and low dissolved oxygen content. A fish can only survive in a medium containing high dissolved oxygen. A fish cannot live without oxygen.

Should I remove dying fish from the tank?

Yes, you should remove the dying fish from the fish tank. The body is consumed by other fish or it may contaminate the water causing the proliferation of bacteria.


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