How Do Fish Breathe? Updated 2021

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How do fish breathe?

As humans we ponder, it is easy for us to breathe like we are surrounded by the air. But, what about the fish? How do fish breathe? As fishes do not have a respiratory system that includes lungs, they do the same job using their gills. However, they do need a continuous supply of oxygen, to respire effectively.

How do fish breathe underwater?

As all living beings need oxygen for respiration, fishes acquire their oxygen through the water. How do they do that? They take small amounts of water through their mouths and then they filter oxygen from this water through their gills.

When water flows over the membranous walls of the gills, the oxygen present in the water, becomes soluble in blood cells of fish, providing them oxygen.

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Now a very interesting question arises in this regard, that if a fish can breathe beneath water, why do some fish species like whales, and dolphins come on the surface of the water in order to respire. Well you may not know that whales and dolphins are not actually fish, they fall under the category of mammals.

Why are they mammals? Because their features are much similar to mammals, and humans. Like us they also give live birth instead of laying eggs. They are also warm-blooded just like mammals and they also have a pair of lungs for respiration. When they come up to ocean’s surface, they blast air through their nose, and gather up enough air going back into the water.

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How do betta fish breathe?

Betta fish come under the category of anabantids, which explains that they bear a special kind of organ. This organ is called Labyrinth, and it makes the betta fish capable of using atmospheric oxygen in addition to the water’s oxygen.

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That is why they are capable of living and surviving in poorly oxygenated environments. If you place other fish species in such habitats they will die. Betta fish are therefore found in marshes, under lily-pads, and still waters.

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How do fish breathe air?

As we know that fish live under the water, so they do not have access to air for respiration. So how do they do it? It must be something in the water. Yes! Fish utilize oxygen present in the water.

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They utilize their mouths and gills and filter out the oxygen present in the water. For this, they have to consume large amounts of water, so that they can obtain the dissolved oxygen using their gills and mouths.

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More surface area of the gills leads to better oxygen absorption. Gill surface area depends on the fish breed. Also, thin gills also contribute towards more oxygen absorption. Oxygen always moves towards the lower concentration via diffusion. This oxygen then gets dissolved in the hemoglobin providing oxygen to the fish.

How do fish breathe explained?

Fish use their mouth and gills for breathing. Fish consume small amounts of water repeatedly, so that the water moves on to their gills. From the gills the soluble water moves into the blood cells of the fish.

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When oxygen is absorbed into the fish’s body, it automatically moves towards the areas which have massive amounts of carbon dioxide. From the same gills carbon dioxide is excreted out in the environment. The process is exactly similar to human respiration. It is way too amusing that both fish and humans are entirely different creatures but they have similar basic survival techniques.

How do fish breathe under the ice?

It may appear to us that water is frozen from top to bottom in a very chilly area. But that is not true, only the upper layer of the water freezes and turns into the water. The lower levels of water remain in the same liquid form. So, it is not difficult for the fish to live and breathe in icy waters.

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Why doesn’t the huge lake or pond freeze? Well freezing the water is a very slow process and also it is the property of ice that it does not allow it to pass through it at a very rapid rate. In deep waters more than 30 meters, the water is in its liquid form. But, there are not plenty of food options for marine life there. In such conditions, marine life has evolved themselves to grow at a very slow rate.

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How do fish breathe underwater for kids?

Just like humans have a pair of lungs for breathing, fish do the same using gills and their mouths. The breathing process initiates when a fish swallows some amount of water through its mouth.

The water gets into the mouths and flows over thin membranous walls of the fish. Fish’ gills have very huge amounts of blood. As water passes through the gills the oxygen present in the water absorbs into the blood cells.

From these gills the oxygen travels to the main blood stream. From where it is provided throughout the fish’s body. Fish’s hearts provide blood to the body by pumping just like in humans.

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How do bony fish breathe?

Bony fish utilize their gills to get oxygen, kudos to their main structure known as operculum. Fish swallow the water and force the flow towards their gills. For fishes, who don’t have jaws, there are basically two ways of getting water into them. First, they have a specialized structure called  nasopharyngeal tube that moves towards their gill sacs.

While others like betta fish, and the hagfish can even breathe through their skin via a structure known as labyrinth. They can even survive in marshy areas, where the amount of oxygen is very low. Other fish species cannot survive under such conditions.

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How do fish breathe air underwater?

As there is a very low amount of oxygen present in the water, fishes have to be extra smart and efficient when it comes to oxygen absorption. There is almost 1% of oxygen in water by volume.

Fish gills are extremely thin and they have tissues that are rich in blood. These tissues have lower concentration of oxygen. When the water moves through the gills, the dissolved oxygen in the water absorbs into the gills via diffusion. In this way oxygen balances it’s way out.

The process is similar to the transfer of energy. For example when you put ice in the glass of water, the temperature of the whole glass becomes even or cold. In the same way both the water and the fish gills have the same amounts of oxygen through the diffusion process. It is all possible through the operculum (a pump in the fish’s head), that allows the movement of water through the fish’s mouth.

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How do fish and tadpoles breathe?

Just like fish tadpoles are also equipped with gills at their tadpole stage, Tadpoles also use their skin to breathe in the water. The water moves through their gills via their mouth and the oxygen gets dissolved into the blood tissues. And, the same goes for a fish.

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How do fish breathe with their gills?

Breathing through gills is the same process as mammals breathe through their lungs. The only difference is that, we inhale air through our mouths, on the other hand fish live under the water and they inhale water instead of air.

Gills are thin feathery structures that contain a lot of blood capillaries. When water flows through the gills, after fish pushes it through their mouth, the oxygen already available in the water flows into the blood cells of the gills. Then the gills transport the blood cells flushed with oxygen to the whole body.

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How do gills help fish breathe?

Gills perform the same functions as lungs do in humans. So there is no rocket science in the process. The whole respiration process remains the same in fish too. Just, replace the air with the water.

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Gills absorb oxygen through the water and the hemoglobin in blood cells carry this oxygen to the whole fish’s body. With the same gills water is then pushed out back again in the environment.

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