Why Do Fish Jump Out of the Water

Fish Jump Out of the Water

Since we all know fish to be carnivorous animals who live and breed underwater, seeing them occasionally jump out of water raises the obvious question in our minds, why do fish jump out of the water?

In this article, we will be answering this very question by analyzing all the possible reasons as to why a fish may jump out of water.

So read our article on why do fish jump out of the water to find out all about it!

Moreover, if you are interested in knowing more about fish or want to see a fish flying out of water for yourself, you can read our other article on the San Francisco fishing spots to know about all the locations where you can see and catch some of the best fish in San Francisco.

Reasons Why Fish Jump Out of Water

Although a fish jumping out of the water is quite a spectacular scene, it is not uncommon. Fish can jump out of water for several reasons. It is both an offensive and defensive mechanism for them.

Let us now look at the habitual causes as to why fish jump out of the water.

It is a Defense Mechanism

The commonest reason for a fish jumping out of water is to defend itself. This can be to escape from predators (bigger fishes) and/or to escape from being caught/hunted by men on fishing boats.

Escaping From Predators

We are all more or less aware of the food chain. The basic mechanism of the food chain heavily relies on the smaller fish’s or prey’s ability to escape its predator; that is, the larger fish in the water.

Since the chase is not lengthy and is usually quick and sudden, the prey needs to rely on its natural reflexes and stealth to move out of the way of the predator as fast as possible.

While being chased by its predator, to break the line of the chase, a fish may jump out of water in an attempt to save itself from being eaten.

When the fish jumps out of the water, the predator loses sight of its prey for a brief time and thus, gives enough time for the prey to run away from its predator and survive.

Escaping From Hunters

Another reason why fish tend to use jumping out of the water as a defense mechanism is to evade being caught in the fishing net or by fish hunters.

The sudden appearance of a boat or its noise can also be a trigger for the fish to jump out of the water as these factors startle them.

When fish get caught in the fishing hook, moving violently and jumping out of the water to dislodge the hook from their lips is a common phenomenon.

Some fish like the Asian carp even tend to jump inside the boat and then back into the water to escape capture.

To Make Up for the Low Level of Oxygen in the Water

Low Level of Oxygen in the Water

Another common reason that causes a fish to jump out of water is the low level of oxygen underwater.

To make up for their oxygen demand to breathe, fish often jump out of the water to breathe in oxygen from the air atmosphere.

The principal reason for a low level of oxygen underwater is the degradation of the environment underwater.

Several factors can trigger this deterioration such as an increased water pH level, increased presence or accumulation of algae, man-made spills, or pollution like oil, plastic, etc.

To Gather Food

Some fish tend to jump out of the water to feed on low-flying flies, insects, mosquitoes, moths, birds, crustaceans, etc. that are found just about the water.

They have a special vision that allows them to spy on these small insects before preying on them. Most fish can jump as high as 4 meters before they descend back into the water.


One of the principal reasons why fish jump out of water is to migrate to the nurseries for procreation.

Fish tend to migrate for several reasons. While the major reason is for breeding, other cases include their will to explore different water bodies, break free from their previous abode, and look for new ones.

Their migrating pattern involves jumping out of the water because the migration trail usually involves waterfalls.

To get past the strong current of the waterfall, fish jump towards the top of the waterfall to get to the other side. Some fish are even strong enough to swim against the current to reach their desired location.

Their determination to procreate drives them to take such drastic measures successfully.

To Get Rid of External Parasites

Unlike other species of animals, fish do not have the luxury of using their fins or mouths to clean their bodies or get rid of parasites.

So, fish like the manta ray are often seen jumping out of the water to get rid of the pesky parasites on their body.

This method of debugging is quite effective in getting rid of the unwanted parasites like argues off their bodies.

You Can Also Read: What is a leader fishing

To Find Potential Mates

Many fish like the salmon, jump out of the water to look for their perfect mate to breed.

Both the female and male fish jump together in an attempt to find their ideal or preferred mate for procreation.

Sometimes, a fish can jump out of the water to get past an obstacle in the water.

There is not always a specific purpose that drives a fish to jump out of water.

Sometimes they do so without any reason; simply for the sake of enjoying life to the fullest.


Moving to the end of our article on why do fish jump out of the water, we hope our article helped answer your queries regarding the jumping of fish out of water.

Although there is never a specific reason why a fish might do so, the aforementioned points are some of the common reasons why it might jump out of the water.

These reasons may vary for the different varieties of species out there depending on the area, environment, time, etc.

Besides, this jumping phenomenon of fish is not always purposeful and is sometimes for the simple sake of amusement. Nonetheless, it is still an interesting phenomenon to witness from time to time.

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