12 Fish That Can Jump Out Of Water (With Photos)

12 Fish That Can Jump Out Of Water (With Photos)

Fish jumping out of water

Fish are known to swim inside the water. Jumping is not what fish typically do, but some fish can jump out of the water.

Here are the main ones…

Fish That Can Jump Out Of The Water



Mullets are commonly seen jumping out of the water.

They’re popular jumpers who can jump as high as 3 feet and fall back on their sides into the water.

Over the years, numerous theories have been put forward to explain this behavior.

Some say it’s a way to avoid predators, while others believe they do it for aerial respiration.

Jumping is a defense mechanism fish use to escape danger or evade predation.

Leaping to avoid predation usually involves a group of mullets jumping simultaneously while retaining an upright posture and entering the water cleanly.

In contrast, while jumping for aerial respiration, mullets take a shorter jump out of the water.

They jump to fill the pharyngo branchial organ (an area at the back of their throat) with air.

The trapped air allows the mullet fish to remain active in low-oxygen water.

It’s believed that the less the oxygen water holds, the more mullets jump.

Besides, sea mullets often feed during the day at low oxygen concentrations in bottom sediments.

Hence, they jump frequently during the day.

Some experts also believe mullets jump out of the water to shake off clinging parasites.

In contrast, others think they jump during spawning periods to break open their egg sacks.



Sturgeons are found in the rivers of Ukraine, southern Russia, and North America’s freshwater bodies.

Gulf sturgeons and other sturgeon species frequently jump out of the water, turning sideways and landing in the water with a loud bang.

Due to their jumping habit, these fish are sometimes stuck by outboard motorboats.

The reason sturgeons jump is not known and is one of the great mysteries. However, many explanations have been proposed.

In one of the studies, researchers theorized that sturgeons leap out of the water to communicate with each other.

They noted that jumping primarily occurs in summer.

Some experts also believe these fish jump out of the water to gulp air to fill their swim bladders.



Carps are another fish species that are known for jumping out of the water.

Silver carps, a variety of Asian carps, are known to jump as high as 10 feet in the air.

Carps are sensitive to disturbance. Loud noise can cause them to jump out of the water.

Hence, they jump when outboard motor-powered boats drive through the water, rocks are thrown in the water, there is a noise of trains passing by, or when they get frightened.

Another reason for carps to jump is to clean debris from their gills.

Carps are bottom-feeders. So when they suck food particles, the dirt and debris get stuck into their gills.

Jumping helps in cleaning the gills.

They also get bothered by parasites. Jumping helps carps to get rid of the parasites stuck on their bodies.

The force with which the carps hit the water after the jump helps in scrubbing the parasites from their bodies.

Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled hatchetfish, also known as river hatchetfish, are found in Colombia, Peru, Suriname, Guyana, and Brazil.

They inhabit small rivers, brooks, marshes, and flooded regions.

Marbled hatchetfish are proficient jumpers.

They have potent muscles supported by wide fins that allow them to jump many meters without difficulty.

In the wild, they jump mainly to evade predators or to catch insects that crawl on low-hanging leaves or branches.

Once the insect lands in the water, these fish will eat it.

Due to their jumping ability, securing the tank with a tight lid for captive marbled hatchetfish is crucial.

Otherwise, these fish can jump out of the aquarium.

Northern Pikes

Northern Pike fish

Northern pikes are carnivorous fish species. They’re found in brackish and fresh waters of the Northern hemisphere.

These fish are also called Pike in Ireland, Britain, and most of Eastern Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Northern pikes jump out of the water to avoid predation or to aggressively attack prey at the water’s surface.

They’re agile and highly aggressive predatory fish. Larger northern pikes try to feed on smaller and young pikes.

The larger pikes’ aggression compels the smaller pikes to jump out of the water to escape.

Another reason northern pikes jump is to throw a fisherman’s lure after being caught by a hook.

Jumping increases the tension on the hook, thus resulting in dislodging the hook from the fish’s mouth.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is a predatory freshwater fish native to the eastern and central United States, northern Mexico, and southeastern Canada.

They prefer warmer waters and are usually found in small, shallow lakes or shallow sections of larger lakes and also in water bodies with dense aquatic vegetation.

These fish usually jump out of the water to loosen the fishhook that gets stuck to their lip.

They shake their head vigorously to free themselves from the hook.

Besides, largemouth bass jumps out of the water to feed on small crustaceans, frogs, birds, and flying insects.

African Butterflyfish

African Butterflyfish

African butterflyfish inhabit the slightly acidic, standing water bodies in West Africa.

They’re usually found in water with very little or no current.

These fish are powerful jumpers. Their large anal fin and broad caudal fin make it easy for them to jump out of the water.

African butterflyfish mainly jump out of the water to escape predators or capture prey like insects.

While many fish can break the surface of the water, these fish have the ability to glide.

Another distinct feature is their eyes, which can see above and below the water’s surface.



Trouts are native to Europe, North America, and other parts of the world.

They’re primarily found in streams, lakes, rivers, and the ocean.

Trouts are one of the most renowned jumpers.

Researchers have found that even a tiny trout of 10 to 15 cm in length can jump at least 63.5 cm high, which is up to 4.7 times their body length.

These fish mainly jump to escape predators that swim underwater and also predatory birds that dive into the water to hunt.

They also jump to catch low-flying insects, especially during the mayfly season, and to clean their bodies from parasites.

Jumping also helps trouts to readjust their swim bladder.

When they move from shallow water to deep water or vice-versa, their bladders start to swell.

Swelling of the swim bladder affects their buoyancy, making them float upward.

Jumping out of water helps to force the air out of their bladders and stabilize them.

Lastly, stress can also cause trouts to jump out of the water. They jump when spooked by a boat or when they get hooked.

Jumping helps to dislodge the hook from their mouth.



Muskellunge fish closely resemble the northern pike fish in both behavior and appearance.

They’re native to North America and found in large rivers and lakes in the United States and Canada.

These fish jump out of the water mainly for two reasons.

Firstly, to clear the parasites or debris that get stuck in their gills.

When they feed, some harmful substances can get consumed along with the food.

These substances can get stuck on their body and inside the gills.

Jumping out of the water helps them to dislodge these substances.

Secondly, muskellunges jump to force air out of their swim bladder.

Swelling of the swim bladder causes them to float upward, affecting their buoyancy.

Jumping helps to force the air out of their swim bladder through the esophagus.

It reduces the swelling and allows them to swim at different depths when they re-enter the water.



Catfish belong to a diverse group of ray-finned fish.

They’re abundantly found in tropical South America, Asia, and Africa, with one family native to North America and one in Europe.

Extant catfish species inhabit the coastal and inland waters of every continent except Antarctica.

Catfish are known to jump frequently.

They jump out of water mainly when they perceive some threat or to escape from predators.

Sometimes, catfish jump to catch an insect or other food like a frog or a small fish on or just above the water’s surface.

They also jump when they feel threatened or get spooked.

Flying Fish

Flying fish

Flying fish are tropical and temperate marine species found on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.

They’re also found in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans.

Flying fish have a distinct feature of staying airborne for up to 45 seconds.

While these fish can’t fly like birds, they can make self-propelled, powerful leaps out of the water.

Their long wing-like fins allow them to glide far above the water’s surface.

Flying fish use this ability to jump when an underwater predator pursues them.

Jumping allows these fish to confuse and escape from the predator.

They’re also nervy creatures. Hence, these fish often jump when spooked by high-speeding boats.

Aquarium Fish


Some aquarium fish, such as threadfin rainbowfish, bettas, comet goldfish, and tetras, are known to jump out of tanks.

These aquarium fish may try to jump out of the water to explore their surroundings or do it naturally as a part of their behavior.

Fish jumping into the wild is not uncommon.

However, it can be a matter of concern if your aquarium fish frequently tries to jump out of the tank.

Aquarium fish mainly try to jump out of water when the living conditions aren’t ideal.

They may jump when the water quality is poor due to high ammonia levels, incorrect water parameters, improper cycling of the aquarium, less oxygen level, or when stressed.

Lack of hiding areas or fish tank decorations can also cause aquarium fish to jump out of water in search of shelter or a better place to live.

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