Do Fish Need Oxygen?

Do Fish Need Oxygen

If you’re currently planning on adding an aquatic fish tank to your home, then you might currently be wondering about whether, or not, your fish is going to require oxygen in order to survive.

Believe it or not, you might be surprised to hear that they do.

Still, the concept of fish needing oxygen can be a pretty confusing one at first – especially given the fact that they live underwater!

Don’t panic, though, because we’re here to clear up any confusion that you might currently have surrounding this. 

Below, we are going to be taking a deep dive (pardon the pun) into why fish require oxygen to survive, how much they need, how they get it, as well as some instances in which they might need more oxygen than usually required.

Let’s begin!

What Is Oxygen?

Before we jump any further, we first think that it’s a good idea to talk you through what oxygen is – as well as where it comes from.

This will help you to better understand why some species of fish need it from time to time.

Essentially, as we’re sure you probably already know, various types of plants (including trees) make oxygen for us via a process that is known as photosynthesis.

Once the oxygen has been created, it is transported out of the plants via its leaves, where it is then distributed out into the environment.

Interestingly enough, in order for photosynthesis to occur, there needs to be sunlight, which means that oxygen is only ever created during the daytime. 

As a side note, it is important to keep in mind that the oxygen that we humans breathe in is achieved via a process that breaks down two atoms of oxygen that were originally water.

The more you know! 

Do Fish Need Oxygen?

As oxygen is something that is essential to all lifeforms (including those that like to live in water) all life forms require oxygen in order to survive – hence why fish need to take in oxygen via their gills. 

Alongside your fish, the healthy bacteria living inside your tank’s ecosystem also require oxygen so that they can do their job.

In the instance that they are deprived of oxygen, they will be unable to destroy the ammonia – and this will lead to poisonous nitrate being allowed to form.

The same goes for any underwater plants that you will keep in your fish tank, too.

Without oxygen, they will perish.

Alongside the above, there are also some instances in which fish might need more oxygen than they usually would.

The main scenario in which a fish might need oxygen in order to survive is due to hot water temperatures. 

As a general rule of thumb, for every 10 to 12 degree Celsius increase in water temperature, a fish will need to take in twice as much oxygen via their gills as they usually would.

For this reason, if you are planning to own some of your own fish, then it is very important that you make sure to maintain the optimum temperature in your fish tank. 

Where Do Fish Get Their Oxygen From?

Where Do Fish Get Their Oxygen From

Oxygen is an element that makes up about 20% of our atmosphere.

It’s actually one of the three gasses which make up air (along with nitrogen and argon).

The other two are carbon dioxide and water. 

With all of that being said, the air that we humans breathe in is typically made up of around 20% oxygen, and the rest of it is usually made up of nitrogen.

This differs significantly from the oxygen that fish breathe in, as for obvious reasons, they can’t “breathe” in their oxygen in the same way that we do. 

On the contrary, even though there are some species of fish that will swim to the surface of the water in order to breathe in oxygen, the majority of fish will typically take oxygen from the water that they are submerged in.

When oxygen is obtained via this process, fish will use their gills to absorb the tiny little bubbles of oxygen present in the water. 

The amount of oxygen present in water can vary depending on a variety of factors, but it is important to note that for every 10 degrees spike in water temperature – the majority of fish species will need double the amount that they would typically require. 

How Do Fish Breathe?

Just like we’ve already briefly touched upon above, fish are unable to breathe in the same way that we do. Instead, the majority of fish will be able to breathe by using the gills that are located on the sides of their bodies.

Gills work by filtering oxygen from the surrounding water. 

When the fish breathes, it opens and closes these gill slits, allowing fresh water to flow over the gills so that the oxygen particles can enter, all while preventing harmful saltwater from entering the body.

In some instances, there are some species of fish that will swim to the surface of the water so that they can take in oxygen via their mouth, although this isn’t typically done. 

It is also worth noting that there are some species of fish that require more oxygen than other species of fish, while others are able to withstand low oxygen levels.

As an example, trout fish require very high levels of oxygen in order to survive, while other species, such as catfish are able to withstand low levels of oxygen.

Wrapping Up

Thank you for taking the time to read through this guide, we hope that you now have a much better understanding of why fish require oxygen alongside water. 

To summarize the above, oxygen is a necessary component of life, which means that it is essential for fish to remain healthy. Without oxygen, fish wouldn’t be able to survive. 

Thanks again for reading! 

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