Can Fish Choke? (How To Help A Choking Fish?)

Image of fish with mouth wide open

A fish tank is relaxing to watch. It’s a delight to see vibrant colored fish swimming in aquarium water. However, if you suddenly see one of your fish eating something and struggling to gulp it down, it can be alarming. So, can fish choke?

Yes, fish can choke if they try to eat something that’s too large to fit in their mouth. The object can get stuck in their mouth, impeding its movement. This can cause improper functioning of the gills, which can result in choking. Fish can choke on various food items, gravel, rock, or substrates.

Any living being can choke, including fish. If fish cannot spit out the item from their mouth instantly, it can even lead to death. So, it’s vital to know the signs of choking and how to rescue a choking fish. Let’s discuss this in detail now.

How Can You Tell If A Fish Is Choking?

When a fish is choking, it will open its mouth wide. It will flare its gills and look like it’s being gagged. The fish will then go back a bit and move its pectoral fins.

After that, you will see the fish spitting out something from its mouth. If the fish spits out on its own, you don’t have to worry. It will be fine in some time. However, if your fish struggles to expel the object out of its mouth, you need to remove it with the help of tweezers.

To rule out any possibility of your fish getting choked, you need to keep a close eye on them. It would help if you gave them things that are not too big to fit in their mouth. Or things that are too small for the fish to choke on.

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How To Help A Choking Fish?

If a fish is choking, you need to observe its reaction. Most of the time, you don’t have to do anything. The fish will spit out the object on its own and will be fine in some time.

However, there may be instances when your fish cannot spit out the object on its own. If you notice your fish sitting at the bottom of the tank and getting restless, you need to intervene.

You can help the choking fish by following the below steps:

  1. First, you need to scoop the fish into the net while keeping its head at the bottom if possible. Then look closely at its mouth.
  2. You can then bring the net to the surface and put your fingers and thumb around the underwater net. Then, press the fish lightly between its fins and tail.
  3. Once the fish relaxes, cut a small hole in the net near its mouth with the help of a scissor.
  4. Now, bring the fish’s mouth to the surface of the water while keeping its fins underwater.
  5. The last step is to open its mouth with the help of tweezers and remove the food or any object that is stuck inside its mouth. Do not try to remove it by force. Your fish can panic. You need to move the object sideways in the hope of realigning it so that it can come out easily.

Can Fish Choke On Food?

Choking occurs when an object blocks the airway of an air-breathing animal. Since fish breathe through gills and no trachea can be blocked, fish cannot technically choke. However, there are instances when you will find your fish choking when they try to eat a large piece of food. This happens because their gills are connected with the oral cavity and require mouth movement to function.

When a fish attempts to eat something too big, it can get stuck in its mouth and hamper the mouth movement. This stops the gills from functioning properly, thus causing the fish to choke.

Can Fish Choke On Water?

Fish cannot choke on water. This doesn’t happen because fish have evolved to live in water. They cannot live outside the water for too long. So, fish usually do not choke on water.

The body of the fish stays moist underwater. Since fish need their gills to be moist to function properly, they don’t work outside the water.

A fish can suffocate in water only if the water quality is poor or the water parameters are not suitable for living.

Besides, a fish can suffocate if it’s put in the wrong type of water. For example, a freshwater fish is put in a saltwater aquarium. Then the fish may not be comfortable. However, the chances of it choking on the water are very less.

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Can Fish Choke On Rocks?

Yes, fish can choke on rocks. Fish usually spit out things such as rocks if they are too big for their mouth. However, there are instances when the rocks are smaller than their mouth but big enough for the fish to swallow. In such instances, if they cannot spit out the rock, it can result in choking.

If your fish accidentally chokes on a rock, you need to remove the rock from its mouth immediately.

To do this, you need to net the fish and bring it to the surface. Your fish will then open its mouth, and you can remove the rock.

If it does not open the mouth, you need to open it gently with a tweezer or fingernail and remove the rock from its mouth.

Can Fish Choke On Pellets?

Yes, fish can choke on pellets. The size of the pellet determines whether your fish can choke on it or not. If the pellet size is bigger than what your fish can swallow easily, the fish will choke.

So, it’s imperative to understand what and how your fish eats. This will help in determining the correct pellet size to offer for avoiding any chances of choking.

Can Fish Choke On Peas?

Yes, fish can choke on peas. Some aquarists have experienced their fish choking on green peas if it’s not prepared properly. Still, aquarists prefer feeding peas to fish as they need fiber to prevent constipation. Peas also help the fish in stomach ailments such as swim bladder disease and bloating.

While feeding peas, you need to ensure that it does not contain any additives. You can boil the frozen peas and feed your fish once the peas cool down.

Can Fish Choke On Bloodworms?

Fish usually can’t choke on bloodworms. Bloodworms are high in protein and are devoured by many fish like bettas, guppies, and mollies.

However, if a bloodworm gets lodged in the throat of a fish, it can prove fatal. But the chances of this happening are very rare.

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Can Fish Choke On Gravel?

Yes, fish can choke on gravel. Hence, the gravel in your tank needs to be large enough so that it does not fit in your fish’s mouth. If the gravel is small, your fish may attempt to swallow the gravel and thus choke in the process.

This can prove lethal. The gravel can block the intestine of your fish once it passes through their esophagus.

Your fish can feel distressed and lose its urge to eat due to discomfort. In the worst scenario, choking may even result in the death of your fish.

Can Fish Choke On Sand?

Fish cannot choke on the sand. Even if sand goes into the mouth of a fish, it will usually spit it out. If a fish swallows the sand by chance, it will poop out the sand or pass it out through the gills.

The chances of fish getting impacted by sand ingestion are less, even if the fish does not pass out the sand.

Can Betta Fish Choke?

Like any other fish species, betta fish usually do not choke unless they attempt to eat something very big in size. If the object does not fit into the mouth of a betta and it impedes the movement of the betta’s mouth, the betta may choke.

This will happen because the betta won’t be able to breathe properly due to the gill’s improper functioning. The large object is basically hurting the gills of the fish, resulting in suffocation and choking.

Can Oscar Fish Choke?

Yes, Oscar fish can choke. However, the possibility of an oscar fish choking is less unless it tries to eat a large object that doesn’t fit in its mouth. Even when an oscar fish attempts to eat a large object, it will usually spit it out if it cannot gulp it down.

Fish will choke only when they cannot spit out the object, which impairs the gills’ functioning. In such a case, fish will become restless due to improper breathing and can choke.

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Can Koi Fish Choke?

Yes, Koi fish can choke. It will choke if it tries to eat anything that it cannot gulp down easily. However, it’s very rare for this to happen, and no aquarist has reported choking in their koi fish.

So, there’s nothing to worry about. You just need to be careful about what your koi fish are putting in their mouth. The food or any object such as gravel or rock should not be too big to cause discomfort.