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Can a Fish Cough or Sneeze? The Interesting Answer

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

sick betta fish

While it may seem strange or unlikely, your pet fish can cough just as a human does. However, they can’t sneeze. Fish cough because they have something stuck in their gills, which stops them from breathing as much water as needed.

Fish can’t sneeze because they aren’t able to take air into their gills, and sneezing is caused by expelling the air from your lungs. Have you ever wondered why your fish coughs? We’ll answer that question and more below.

Do Fish Cough?

Yes, a fish can cough. It stands to reason since animals on land cough when they have something stuck in their throat or are sick. Since fish take in water through their gills and then expel it, they will cough if they end up with a particle or other foreign object in their gills.

If you have an aquarium, you have seen your fish cough. How do you tell if your fish is coughing? It’s not that hard, really. When coughing, a fish will open its mouth like a human, then push water through their gills, not their mouths. The fish will jerk up and down, trying to shake and lose the object in their gills until it is expelled. They also do the same thing if they have gas between their gills.

sick gold fish_Suphakornx_shutterstock
Credit: Suphakronx, Shutterstock

Why Don’t Fish Sneeze?

Fish don’t sneeze because they don’t take air into their gills, so there’s no need to expel it. While the fish does have a nose, they don’t sneeze.

Can Fish Burp?

Not all fish can burp, but some can. At one time, it was thought that fish did not burp, but underwater cameras with microphones recorded the sound of marine belching. Some species, such as pike, trout, and salmon, burp air to decompress when they ascend from deep waters. Your pet Goldfish can also burp to control its buoyancy.

Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

Can Fish Cry?

No, fish do not cry. We cry because of emotions or because our eyes or irritated or have something in them. Fish don’t have that problem. Fish don’t cry because they simply can’t produce tears underwater.

Final Thoughts

Fish can cough, and they do it when something is stuck in their gills or haves a gas buildup. Fish can’t sneeze, however, because they don’t take air into their gills, so they have no need to expel it.

Fish can’t cry but can burp and are quite loud, according to underwater cameras. If you have an aquarium, you’ve probably seen your fish coughing, which can be a comical sight. It’s pretty common for your fish to cough. However, if it seems to be happening all the time, you should contact a vet that deals with fish to see if there’s any underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Featured Image Credit: yin8003211, Pixabay

Patricia Dickson

Authored by

Patricia is a pet and coffee writer and a published author under the pen name Skylar McKinzie. When she isn’t writing, Patricia enjoys spending time with her two cats and dog. Since she was a young child, she has been a pet lover and enjoys nothing more than cuddling with her pets, Mystery, and her two cats, Binx and Link. Mystery has been with her family since the day she was born, as has Link. Binx was found under the...Read more

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