Types of Fish that Jump out of the Water

Fish are popularly known for swimming but not jumping out of the water.

However, certain fish species tend to jump, and some can jump fairly high. Some can even fly, where they soar for quite a distance.

Types of fish that jump out of the water may not serve a purpose in the home aquarium setting, but it does in the wild.

Types of Fish that Jump out of the Water

fish that jump out of water
Jumping fish

Here are some of the wild and aquarium fish that are prone to jumping out of the water.

1. Asian Carp

Invasive Asian carp are known to jump out of water when an outboard motor-powered boat drives through the water in which these fish live. They often jump out of the water and sometimes land in boats passing across the area.

The exact reason why this fish jump is unknown, but there is speculation that the noise of the outboard motor causes the fish to jump out of the water.

Read: How to bond with your betta fish

2. Mullet Fish

Mullet (Mugil Cephalus) are popular jumpers, and several theories explain this behavior.

Some experts believe they jump out of the water when pursued by predators. Others claim it is to shake off clinging parasites. Some scientists believe they do it during spawning periods to break open their egg sacks as they prepare for spawning.

Whichever the reason, these fish can jump as high as three feet and then fall back into the water on their sides.

3. Largemouth Bass

Wild largemouth bass tends to jump out of the water to loosen the fishhook that might be stuck to its lip. These fish will jump straight out of the water and shake their head violently as they try to remove the hook that is disrupting their freedom.

4. Sturgeons

Besides their natural behavior in summer holding places, sturgeon frequently jump clear out of the water, turning sideways and landing in the water with a loud bang. Just like deer are hit by vehicles, jumping sturgeon are sometimes stuck by outboard motorboats.

Read: How to tell if your betta fish is dying

5. African Butterfly fish

African butterflyfish (pantodont buchholzi) is a common aquarium fish that is known to jump out of the water. These fish live near the surface and can jump out of the water to escape predators or catch prey. In addition, they have eyes that allow them to see above and below the water’s surface.

6. Marbled Hatchet fish

Marbled hatchet fish (carnegiellastrigata) is a talented jumper, and unless your tank is securely covered, the fish can jump out of the aquarium.

This tropical fish feeds on the surface, and in the wild environment, they are known to jump out of the water to draw any insects that might be crawling on low-hanging leaves or branches. Once the insect lands in the water, the hatchet fish have an easy meal.

Other fish that are prone to jumping out of the water include:

  1. Killifish
  2. Comer goldfish
  3. Tetras
  4. Betta fish
  5. Rainbowfish

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Why Do Fish Jump Out of The Water?

Fish in the wild tend to jump for several reasons, the most common being when the fish is hunting or being hunted. Jumping provides a good defence mechanism since the fish being hunted can temporarily escape the predator.

On the other hand, tropical fish jump due to bad water quality in the aquarium. Improper cycling of your fish tank, high concertation of ammonia, and incorrect pH levels can all cause fish to jump out of the water.

Fish do breathe oxygen, and if water is dirty, there is probably less oxygen in the aquarium for the fish to breathe. Lack of hiding areas or fish tank accessories can also contribute to fish jumping.

Frequently Asked Questions About Jumping Fish

How Can I Prevent Jumping Fish from Escaping?

Here are several steps you can take to physically prevent your fish from trying to jump out. First, place a cover slide between the water surface and the lighting in your aquarium hood.

Make sure to leave at least an inch space between the cover slide and the water, especially if you are using labyrinth breathers such as gouramisor bettas.

This will help provide an ample surface area for gaseous exchange to take place and maintain high oxygen levels. Secondly, ensure that you have a tightly fitting lid on your aquarium.

And if you keep eels in a marine tank, make sure that you seal any gaps around the pipe and cable inlets in the tank lid that the fish might use as escape routes.

Do Newly Added Fish Jump Out of Aquariums?

When fish are added to a new fish tank, it’s the most vulnerable time for these creatures. They are usually in shock or wary of their new tankmates.

As a result, they usually go into hyper-drive or swim around the tank scared and confused. This can often cause them to jump out of the aquarium within seconds.

Small fish such as Neon Tetras come in bags with over 100 fish per bag, and if you don’t properly add them to their new home, you can easily lose most of them.

See also: Are Chinese algae eaters good?

Can I Save a Fish That Has Already Jumped Out of Water?

This happens to many aquarists. You walk over to your tank in the morning, and the first thing you notice is a fish that jumped out overnight.

Sometimes you may be lucky and be fresh to the scene, but other times it might be too late. If your fish is crispy, the best thing you can do is toss it. However, if the fish is still wet, there could be some hope even if it’s not moving.

Fish can be resilient. You can try putting it back in the aquarium or get a small container and fill it with water. Observe the fish for some hours to see whether they will come back to life.

Fish are remarkably athletic, and most species naturally jump out of the water. If you keep fish that jump out of the water, such as African butterflies or hatchet fish, you can reduce this capability by adding floating plants or decorations.

That will inhibit their potential to gather speed to jump out of the water. Also, be sure to provide a clean and healthy environment for your fish with regular aquarium maintenance and add lids or hoods to your fish tank to prevent jumping from occurring.

Read: Betta fish new tank syndrome


National Library of Medicine (NLM): Fish out of water: terrestrial jumping by fully aquatic fishes

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