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19 Fish that Breathe Air (A to Z List with Pictures)

19 Fish that Breathe Air

Examples of fish that breathe air include the Atlantic mudskipper, barca snakehead, barred mudskipper, bichir, and cave angel fish.

Some fish have developed the ability to breathe air, which enables them to live in habitats where there is little or no water. These fish are particularly well-adapted to environments where water levels fluctuate, such as during droughts or floods.

One of the best-known examples of a fish that breathes air is the lungfish. Lungfish have a pair of lungs as well as gills, and they must surface every few minutes to breathe. Some species of lungfish can even survive for several months out of the water, provided that their skin remains moist.

Examples of Fish that Breathe Air

1. Atlantic Mudskipper

Atlantic Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmus barbarus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethrough the Indian Ocean and into the western Pacific Ocean to Guam

The Atlantic mudskipper is a small fish that is commonly found in brackish water habitats along the coasts of the southeastern United States. Mudskippers are unique in that they are able to breathe air, and they often spend much of their time out of the water, basking in the sun or foraging for food.

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2. Barca Snakehead

Barca Snakehead
Scientific NameChanna barca
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeupper Brahmaputra river basin in northeastern India and Bangladesh

The barca snakehead (Channa barca) is a species of fish that is highly adapted to breathing air. This fish is native to Southeast Asia, where it inhabits swamps, ponds, and other wetland habitats. The barca snakehead has a pair of large lungs that allow it to breathe air directly, as well as gills that it uses for respiration in water.

This fish is able to survive out of water for up to four days, provided that its skin remains moist. When the barca snakehead is terrestrial, it often burrows into the ground to keep cool and moist.

The barca snakehead is an invasive species that has been introduced to several countries outside of its native range. In these new environments, the fish often outcompetes native species for food and habitat.

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3. Barred Mudskipper

Barred Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmus argentilineatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangefrom the African coast of the Indian Ocean to the Marianas and Samoa in the western Pacific Ocean and from the Ryukyus south to Australia

The barred mudskipper (Periophthalmus argentilineatus) is a small fish that can be found in tidal creeks and mangrove swamps in Africa and Arabia. It can grow to a length of around 4 inches (10 cm).

The barred mudskipper is able to breathe air, and it often spends time out of the water searching for food. When the tides are low, the mudskipper may be seen “walking” on its fins across the muddy ground.

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4. Bichir

Scientific NamePolypteridae
Type of AnimalFish
Rangewestern and central Africa

Bichirs are a type of fish that can breathe air. They have a pair of lungs as well as gills, and they must surface every few minutes to breathe. Some species of bichirs can even survive for several months out of the water, provided that their skin remains moist.

5. Cave Angel Fish

cave angel fish
Scientific NameCryptotora thamicola
Type of AnimalFish
Rangenorthern Thailand

The cave angel fish is another example of a fish that has adapted to living in an environment with little or no water. This fish is found in caves in Thailand, where it breathes air that has diffused into the cave from the surface. The cave angel fish has a long, snouted mouth that it uses to snatch small insects and other food from the air.

6. Climbing Gourami

Climbing Gourami
Scientific NameAnabas testudineus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeFar Eastern Asia

Another example of an air-breathing fish is the climbing gourami. This fish gets its name from its ability to climb out of the water and walk on land using its pectoral fins. Climbing gouramis are found in slow-moving or stagnant waterways in Southeast Asia. They breathe air using a special organ called the suprabranchial organ.

7. Common Mudskipper

Common Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangemarine and brackish waters of the Indo-Pacific from eastern Africa to Samoa

The common mudskipper is a small fish that is often seen out of water, flipping and jumping around on mudflats. It can spend up to four days out of the water, breathing air through its gills.

8. Dwarf Snakehead

Dwarf Snakehead
Scientific NameChanna gachua
Type of AnimalFish
RangeIndia, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia

The dwarf snakehead is a native of Sri Lanka, where it is found in slow-moving freshwater streams and ponds. It is a carnivorous fish that feeds on insects, small mammals, and other fish. When conditions are dry, the dwarf snakehead is able to survive out of water by aestivating (i.e. becoming dormant) in mud.

9. Forest Snakehead

Scientific NameChanna lucius
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWest Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat) province, Indonesia

This fish is a voracious predator, feeding on smaller fish, frogs, and even birds. It is capable of surviving on land for several days, provided that its skin does not dry out.

desert. The water-holding frog can live for up to 10 months without access to water.

10. Giant Mudskipper

Giant Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmodon schlosseri
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe tropical shores of the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean

The giant mudskipper is a large fish that can grow up to three feet in length. It is native to the coastal areas of Africa and Asia, and is often found in mangrove swamps.

Mudskippers are able to breathe air thanks to a pair of modified gills located near their heads. These gills allow the mudskipper to absorb oxygen from the air, and they also help to keep the fish’s body moist.

Mudskippers are excellent climbers, and they often perch on mangrove roots or branches out of the water. They are also able to walk on land using their pectoral fins, which are modified to act like legs.

11. Giant Snakehead

Giant Snakehead
Scientific NamePeriophthalmodon schlosseri
Type of AnimalFish
RangeTropical Asia. Southeast Asia including India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Borneo, Java, Bangka, Belitung

This voracious freshwater fish is native to Southeast Asia, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world. Giant snakeheads can grow up to 3 feet in length, and they are capable of surviving on land for several days. These fish breathe air using their gills, and they often congregate near ponds and streams.

12. Malabar Snakehead

Malabar Snakehead
Scientific NameChanna diplogramma
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe southern Western Ghats of peninsular India

The Malabar snakehead is a species of air-breathing freshwater fish native to South and Southeast Asia. It gets its name from its ability to “walk” on land thanks to its strong fins. If necessary, it can travel over land for up to four days in search of new bodies of water.

13. Mangrove Rivulus

Scientific NameKryptolebias marmoratus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangemangrove forests from southeastern Brazil through the Antilles and Central America to Florida

This tiny fish is found in the mangrove forests of the Caribbean and South America. It can breathe air through its skin, which is covered in tiny blood vessels that absorb oxygen from the atmosphere.

14. Northern Snakehead

Northern Snakehead
Scientific NameChanna argus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeChina and possibly Korea and Russia

This aggressive fish is native to Asia but has been introduced to several other continents, where it often creates havoc in local ecosystems. The northern snakehead can grow to over three feet in length and breathe air using a pair of lungs. It is an excellent swimmer and can even travel on land for short distances.

15. Orange-Spotted Snakehead

Scientific NameChanna aurantimaculata
Type of AnimalFish
RangeBrahmaputra River basin

This air-breathing freshwater fish is native to Southeast Asia but has been introduced to many other parts of the world. It can grow to over three feet in length and is capable of surviving on land for up to four days, provided that it skin stays hydrated.

16. Pearse’s Mudskipper

Pearse's Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmus novemradiatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangemarine and brackish waters along the coasts of the Bay of Bengal

Found in the coastal region of Africa, this mudskipper can grow up to 18 cm in length. It is a very good jumper and climber, and it often leaves the water to forage for food on land. The mudskipper breathes through its gills when it is underwater, but it also has a pair of modified fins that allow it to breathe air.

17. Shuttles Mudskipper

Shuttles Mudskipper
Scientific NamePeriophthalmus modestus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangefresh, marine, and brackish waters of the northwestern Pacific Ocean from Vietnam to Korea and Japan

The mudskipper is a fish that can live and move about on land, thanks to its specially adapted fins. Mudskippers are found in tropical regions around the world, and often inhabit marshes and mangrove forests.

These fish use their pectoral fins to walk on land, and their tail fin helps them to propel themselves through the water. Mudskippers can also breathe air through their skin and mouths, which allows them to survive in oxygen-poor environments.

18. Small Snakehead

Malabar Snakehead
Scientific NameChanna asiatica
Type of AnimalFish
Rangesmall and large streams, canals, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and lakes

The small snakehead (Channa asiatica) is a species of air-breathing freshwater fish native to South and Southeast Asia. It is named for its long, snake-like body and its ability to “walk” on land using its fins. The small snakehead can grow up to 60 cm (24 in) in length and is a popular aquarium fish.

The small snakehead is an air-breathing fish that must surface every few minutes to breathe. It has a pair of lungs as well as gills, and can survive for several months out of the water provided that its skin remains moist. The small snakehead is a carnivorous fish that feeds on other small fish, crustaceans, and insects.

19. Walking Catfish

Walking Catfish
Scientific NameClarias batrachus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeacross Southern Asia including Pakistan, Eastern India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Borneo, Laos, and the Philipines

The walking catfish is a species of air-breathing freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. As its name suggests, this fish is capable of “walking” on land for short distances using its fins. It often does so in search of food or new water sources. The walking catfish can also travel overland by wriggling through wet grass or mud.

Conclusion

There are many types of fish that have the ability to breathe air. This is because they have a special organ called the labyrinthine which helps them absorb oxygen from the air. Some of these fish include the boga, eel, and catfish. All of these fish live in different habitats and use their unique ability to help them survive.

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