Can a Fish Choke?


Animals have a lot of risk factors that are similar to those of humans. Fish indeed can choke, just like you, your dog and your cat. Choking is a severe risk for vertebrates in general, so always take it into consideration when feeding your pet, or even just setting up his living environment.

Yes, Fish Can Choke

  • Choking is not unheard of in the fish world. Fish tend to not chew on their food in the same way that people do, making choking a major possibility. Because of this, it's your job to always thoroughly chop up any foods you offer your pet.

Perilous Gravel

  • Gravel in an aquarium is often a prominent potential choking risk. Gravel is often adorned in tiny bits of matter that can get inside of fish's gills, blocking them and ultimately choking the poor creatures. Because of this hazard, it's imperative to always thoroughly wash gravel with water before placing it into your pet's living environment. It isn't unheard of for fish to pass away from having inordinate amounts of gravel in their mouths, so always be extremely cautious as far as tiny stones and pebbles go.

Game Fish Can Choke, Too

  • Choking is in no way exclusive to fish residing in aquariums. Game fish such as pikes and pickerels have both been observed choking. Giant pikes, for one, have died due to efforts to consume massive carp in single pieces. When a fish tries to swallow another fish that's simply too large, it can halt the movement of oxygen via the gills -- an extremely perilous situation.

    Fish's gullets -- or esophagi -- can often curb choking, however. Gullets can expand and stretch with ease, which often makes it a piece of cake for fish to consume lots of varieties of foods, regardless of size. If a fish can get something inside of his mouth, he can often swallow it.

Goldfish and "Real" Stomachs

  • Goldfish don't have "real" stomachs in that they're not much bigger than their eyes -- tiny. They do have lengthy gastrointestinal tracts that handle food breakdown, however. Since they barely have stomachs, they don't have the ability to stash substantial amounts of food inside of their bodies.

    As sustenance travels via their gullets, their tooth plates rub up on plates that are located in their throats. This action serves to diligently crush what just made way into their mouths. This often prevents goldfish from choking on worms. Worms are conveniently pulverized inside their throats.

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  • Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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  • Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pond Fish; David Alderton

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