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How Long Can Fish Live Out Of The Water

How Long Can Fish Live Out Of The Water

Fish are some of the most fascinating animals living on our planet. They enjoy a life of exploring the ocean’s depths, roaming free where no man can thrive. However, a common question is how long can fish live out of water?

When it comes to how long fish can live outside of water, the time varies greatly depending on the fish species. Some can only last for around ten minutes, while others can survive for months. Typically, amphibious fish survive far longer outside of the water when compared to freshwater fish.

This article will discuss how long fish can live outside of the water. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about how long fish can live out of water.

Which Fish Can Survive Out Of The Water?

Fish are known as animals that can breathe underwater, and if they are taken out of this environment for an extended period, it usually leads to their death. However, some species of fish survive out of the water much longer than others. 

Freshwater fish don’t survive very long when they are taken out of the water and can die from suffocation after as little as five minutes. In comparison, amphibious fish such as snakeheads and eel catfish can sometimes survive for months out of the water as long as their skin stays moist.

The mangrove rivulus is a species of fish that can survive outside of the water for 66 days at a time. This is because this specific kind of fish can breathe oxygen in the air and has a particular type of skin that helps them on land.

The West African lungfish is another example of a fish that can live for extended periods on land. They don’t live in an active state; instead, they go into a dormant state and bury themselves in mud. They can live this way for years and will awake once a dry spell is over. 

How Long Can Goldfish Live Out Of Water?

Goldfish are some of the most popular pets in the U.S, and while it’s blatantly apparent that water is essential to their everyday life, can they survive out of water for an extended period of time?

If you are one of the people who thought they would die within a few minutes or even less, you may be surprised to find out that they can actually survive outside of water for up to one hour. They can survive even longer if there is a minuscule amount of water, such as a small puddle or some spilled water collected somewhere.

A small amount of goldfish have been observed to live for up to three hours on the floor because when their tank broke, the water followed them to the ground. 

However, it is still relatively dangerous for your goldfish to be out of the water, so never do it deliberately, as this will cause discomfort to the fish. If your fish jumps out of the tank, you should immediately aim to place it back into the water. 

How Long Can Walleye Live Out Of Water?

Walleye are popular freshwater fish and are amongst the favorite catch in the north of the U.S and Canada. Unlike the goldish, however, this fish does not have much of a chance if they end up on dry land. 

As with all fish, the conditions they find themselves in will determine how long they can survive outside of their natural habitat. In ideal conditions, you may see a walleye survive for up to thirty minutes. However, in most cases, they will suffocate and die in as little as five minutes and sometimes in as little as two minutes. 

So, if you are out fishing for walleye and you plan on releasing the majority of the fish you catch, be sure to do this as quickly as possible, as the longer the walleye is out of the water, the more pain it will be in and the more likely it is to die.

How Long Can Guppies Live Outside Of Water?

Guppies are another common fish kept as pets in homes across America. They come in various colors and are relatively low maintenance, making them some of the best fish to keep as pets. 

Guppies are fish that struggle almost instantly when they are outside of water. They have one of the quickest suffocation rates, with many dying after ten minutes if not resubmerged in water. Some even die after around five minutes, so it’s best to keep an eye on this fish if you have it as a pet. 

It can be a painful death for the guppy as they slowly suffocate, so it’s essential that you return the fish to the water as soon as possible if it jumps out of the tank. If you’re cleaning the tank, move the fish to another water source immediately.  

How Long Can A Saltwater Fish Live Out Of Water?

Saltwater fish and freshwater fish have many similarities, yet the most common difference is the salt concentration they have within their bodies. As well as this, saltwater fish live in larger bodies of water, such as the ocean and the seas, whereas freshwater fish live in rivers, lakes, and streams. 

Depending on the specific kind of saltwater fish and the circumstances it finds itself in all play a part in how long the fish can live out of water. 

The ocellaris clownfish can live outside of water for around ten minutes; thus, if they wash up on the beach or somewhere they shouldn’t, it’s highly likely that they will die if they are not returned to the sea immediately. 

Some of the larger saltwater or ocean fish can survive outside of the water for several hours. This is because they have a much larger body mass, enabling them to maintain their overall oxygen level much longer than smaller fish. 

But even an animal as large as a blue whale can only survive outside the salty ocean for around a few hours. After this, the whale will likely have reached a level where it will die. 


So, on the whole, if any fish ends up outside of its water source, it’s unlikely that it will die within the first few minutes. However, if you have a pet fish and it ends up outside its tank, you should try your best to return it to a water source immediately. 

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Erik Miller

Passionate scuba diver

Hello, there. Welcome to my blog. I am Erik and I’m the main editor of Sealife Planet website.

My passion and hobby has always been scuba diving. My mission is to grow this website and help others with useful information about the sea world. Enjoy! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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