Can Fish Drown?

When thinking about the life and survival tactics of fish, there’s one question that pops up commonly: can fish drown? Since fish live in water and are adapted to that environment, we often want to find out if they can drown or die in the water. The answer to this question may vary depending on your definition of drowning. According to the oxford dictionary, drowning is defined as death through submersion in or inhalation of water. Going by this definition, fish cannot drown since they are adapted to inhale water. However, fish can die through submersion in water that has insufficient oxygen or contaminated water. Please stick with us to the end to understand and probably solve this dynamic question.

Yes, fish can die through submersion in water that has insufficient oxygen levels. However, if the water is clean and well-oxygenated, fish cannot die since they are adapted to inhale water.

 Fish are more likely to die from suffocation in water than drowning. This is because the cause of death will be the lack of sufficient oxygen in the water, making them unable to draw air from the water and not being submerged for long. 

What Makes Fish Drown?

What Makes Fish Drown

Sometimes, you may find pet fish dead in their fish tank and think they drowned. But what really kills them? Is it the water or there are other factors? In this section, we look at various reasons why fish are likely to die in the water and how each happens.

Cause Of DeathDescription:
Pollution of water from leftovers When food leftovers stay in the tank until they decay, the quality of water deteriorates, and oxygen levels go down, causing distress to fish that may lead to death. Always ensure you feed your fish with just enough quantities of food and remove any leftovers to lower the risk of death.
Stagnant waterOxygen levels in water are directly proportional to the water movement. Stagnant waters have less oxygen which may be harmful to your pet fish. To ensure your fish do not die due to stagnant water, boost water movement by using aquarium bubblers, spray bars, and wavemakers.
Too many live plants, especially in a dark tankLive plants are useful in an aquarium since they use up any carbon dioxide in the water and give off oxygen. However, if there are too many plants in the aquarium, they use up more oxygen when it’s dark or at night competing with the fish, and this may cause death. Check on the number of living plants to protect the fish from drowning.
Increased water temperatureOxygen levels in water drop as the temperature increases. A sudden and drastic increase in the water temperature causes fish to suffocate and die.
Overcrowding of the fish tankAn overcrowded fish tank is one of the major causes of death in a fish tank. Overcrowding means fish do not have enough space to move around, and also, the waste levels in the tank will be too high. Always ensure you know the recommended number of fish to keep in your fish tank, depending on their species.
Damaged gillsFish need healthy gills to breathe, just like humans need healthy lungs. If their gills are sick or damaged, fish will drown and die in the water

What Is The Best Thing To Do To Inhibit Fish From Drowning?

Everyone wants to keep their pets alive for as long as they possibly can. We researched and came up with great tips to ensure your fish do not drown or suffocate. Let’s dive right in:

1. Ensure you maintain the correct water temperature for your fish. You can consider using fans on hot days and heaters during cold days to balance the water temperature in your aquarium.

2. Ensure the water is at the right mineral and Ph levels. Always check compounds such as nitrates, nitrates, and ammonia since they affect the quality of life for your fish.

3. Do not overcrowd your fish tank; ensure you stock only the recommended quantity of fish, plants, and other substances.

Invest in gadgets that help increase water movement. Such gadgets include: 

PowerheadsThey are used to upsurge the water flow on the water surface. Most frequently used by hobbyists.
Spray barsSpray bars are used to agitate the water surface of the aquarium. They are attached to the filter outlet and spray back water evenly on the surface Of The Aquarium 
WavemakersThese are water surge devices that produce waves similar to those of oceans and seas. They help to circulate water throughout the tank, even in large tanks.
Aquarium bubblers Also known as air stones. They add bubbles to the aquarium, which increase oxygen levels in your water, thus improving the quality of life in your fish tank. Bubblers work 24/7 ensuring your aquarium has sufficient airflow all the time.

How Can You Know If Your Fish Lack Sufficient Oxygen?

How Can You Know If Your Fish Lack Sufficient Oxygen

Fish in your aquarium will behave in a different manner when they are struggling to get enough oxygen. Here are some signs to look out for in your fish that are an indication of low oxygen levels. If you notice any of these signs, immediate action should be taken to prevent suffocation:

1. Less movement

2. Laboured breathing

3. Eating lesser than usual quantities of food

4. Rapid gill movement

5. Gasping and spending more time around the water surface

If you notice any of these signs, you need to increase water movement or move your fish to a larger tank.

Wrapping Up

There’s an unending debate on whether fish can really drown, and for you to understand which side of the debate you are on, you need to define drowning. In literal terms, fish cannot drown since they are adapted to live in and inhale water. But when you look at it from a deeper aspect, fish can drown when submerged in contaminated water or that which has low oxygen levels. Drowning will happen because the gills cannot filter oxygen from the water causing the fish to die.

If you have pet fish in your aquarium, always ensure that measures are in place to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated all the time. We should also strive to ensure fish do not die in their natural habitat due to pollution. We hope that this post has helped you understand that it is possible for fish to drown, and you will take measures to ensure fish don’t die out of something preventable.

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