What to Do: Goldfish Out of Water

Goldfish Out of Water

How long can a goldfish live out of water?

You wake up in the morning or come home after work to see that one of your goldfish jumped out of the water and onto the floor. Don’t assume this is end of that goldfish. A goldfish can live up to an hour out of water and significantly longer depending on a few variables. If the goldfish in question jumps out onto a nonabsorbent surface like a tile or wood floor, it took some of the goldfish tank water with it and the room temperature is cool, it can live several hours possibly up to 3 hours or more.

Related Content: Goldfish Illness and Treatment


Is It Dead or Alive

You can decide if your goldfish is too far gone that its chances of survival is next to none. If there is a chance you can immediately begin a reviving treatment; otherwise the almost dead goldfish can be euthanized using clove oil. Clove oil is known to be the most humane way to kill a goldfish. Here are some signs to look for.

Signs Your Goldfish is Dead

  • Goldfish skin easily cracks when flexed
  • Goldfish is completely dried out
  • Eyes of goldfish are concave instead of convex
  • Pupils of goldfish are gray
  • Body parts of the goldfish are clearly missing

How to Revive it

Proper goldfish care: The steps to reviving a goldfish that jumped out of its tank. Immediately place the goldfish out of water into cool water from its tank. Cool water contains more oxygen. Gentle rinse off any dirt and debris that might be sticking to the skin of the goldfish. Carefully pry open the gill covers; if the gills still appear red, this is a good sign. Place the goldfish upright next to an air bubbler or where there is good water circulation. Maximize aeration in the goldfish tank by doing a partial water change. Some owners with expensive show goldfish will place their fish into a bag half full of water and pure oxygen and also might inject it with dexamethasone which encourages revival of the senses. If you are successful in your attempt, add a stress coat treatment.

Reviewed By: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has a strong affection for pets and wildlife. His years of experience caring for various types of pets has led him to share his knowledge with others on the best practices in pet care. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.

| Home | How to Take Care of a Goldfish | What to Do: Goldfish Out of Water

24 thoughts on “What to Do: Goldfish Out of Water”

  1. Do fish have doctors? Because when my fish jumped out there was dirt stuck to her and I want to take her to the vet but my brother said that the injury was too small.

  2. My fish jumped out of the tank while I was sleeping I have no idea how long she was out for but I woke up and noticed her under my dresser I noticed she was still breathing and put her back in the tank she’s alive and swimming and eating but her scales are turning white on the one side can anyone help?

  3. I won a goldfish last night at a carnival, later this morning my brother came up to me saying my fish was dead! So I went up stairs and I saw it still swimming, but I think he took it out of the water! And now he is breathing rapidly and won’t eat!

  4. I came out this morning to feed my goldfish in the pond and found that one of them had been pushed out of the water onto the rocks!!! It had ants crawling on him but I saw that it was still breathing so I immediately put him back in the water. I guess that goldfish when they have eggs inside them at the others try to push them out by means of pushing them up to the surface. I wiped the ants off of it and it was starting to sink to the bottom so I put my hand under it and every minute or so I would bring it up to the surface to get some air. I don’t know how long she was out of the water so what do you think its chances or of living?

    • I had two shubunkins in a bath of water in the garden and they always came to the surface when I fed them. At least six weeks ago they disappeared. It’s possible one of the cats caught them or maybe there was a heron who took them. Yesterday when I was mowing the grass I saw something odd in a pile of leaves. It was one of my fish, very dry and scabby but on closer inspection I saw its mouth move slightly. I have put it in a tub of water and it’s still alive so maybe it will recover. I can only imagine that the leaves kept it moist but still am amazed that it survived for several weeks out of water.

  5. I found my goldfish on the kitchen side i thinkit was out about 15/20 minutes.. i put it back in the tank but its swimming funny will it recover??

    • Try to add more oxygen into the water. use a filter or bubbler to churn the water. Also make sure the water is cool, colder water contains more oxygen. But, lower the water temp slowly so it doesn’t shock the fish

  6. My fish somehow is still alive out of the water right now, it has literally been 5 hours and my dad is fine with it just because it is my homework. Also, he has a ruby next to him. His name is Chayman, and he is a goldfish. Can goldfish really do this? I am really freaking out!

    • No, they can’t do that for too long. Once the water evaporates and the water can no longer pass through the gills, it will suffocate and die. It is a slow and if not likely painful, a terrifying death for one of Earth’s innocent creatures. How is this homework, to torture a poor little goldfish? What scientific breakthrough will be made? Dont be mad at your dad but educate him by telling him all animals have a right to live and that the only time one should be killed is if you plan to eat it or need it for your own survival. Vegetarians and such take this further by pointing out that you can survive just fine by not killing any living being for resources.

      • You cannot survive without killing any living being. Plants are also living beings and their cultivation requires much plant culling.

      • I agree with this last guy! I am sure your dad probably has mental issues or idk just an a hole! Sorry to give u the news. But leave your house the second u turn 18! Lol

  7. they are in shock. i’ve rinsed rocks with tap water. cleaned the pump with tap,it doesn’t pump enough water for oxegin , the white fish is turning orange, they stay at the bottom of tank Help!

    • Tey may be turning darker in colour if they are in sunlight and staying at the bottom is pretty normal. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

  8. I have a 5-inch goldfish that was out of the tank for 7 hours and survived. He was dry and stiff, but I pried open his mouth and gills and put him back in the water. It took about half a day before he was back to swimming normally. Thought that he was for sure dead. I was shocked that he lived. (The cat that removed him also lives on.)

  9. My fish was out for a long time in cool air on a wood deck.

    Since reviving him he is black he has developed white mucus is tiff on his exposed side. Can that be healing or healed?

    He is doing stuff but this happened a month or so ago and he doesn’t seem to be getting better.


Leave a Comment