According to its keeper Barbara Woodford, 61, of Gloucester, the goldfish Ginger managed to survive for 13 hours on the floor behind a cupboard after leaping out of its bowl during the night or early in the morning.

goldfish3 Christmas Miracle? Goldfish survives 13 hours out of water.

When Woodford woke up at 7 am, she found the bowl empty and started to look for her pet, but to no avail. When it was time for her to leave for work she had still not found Ginger. When Woodward returned from work around 8 pm, she feared the worst but made a new attempt and finally managed to find her missing goldfish after moving the cupboard on which the fishbowl was standing.

I picked him up with a spatula and his mouth started moving. I put him back into the water and off he went. He was swimming fabulously. I couldn’t believe it – it was a real Christmas miracle,” Woodward explains.

Woodward received Ginger as a birthday present in August. Recently, she had noticed how her pet was jumping up out of the water a lot. “We thought nothing of it,” says Woodward. “Apparently goldfish jump when they need more oxygen, so on this occasion he obviously jumped right out.

A spokesman for the Association of Midland Goldfish Keepers said: “Fish can survive quite a while out of the water, as long as their gills remain moist, allowing them to breathe. But this is the longest I’ve heard of a goldfish staying alive. It’s quite astonishing.

How can I prevent accidents like this from happening?

  • Avoid keeping goldfish in bowls. A normal sized goldfish bowl is actually too small to comfortably house a fish as large and active as the goldfish.
  • If your fish repeatedly tries to jump out of its home, try to figure out why. There are many reasons why a fish will try to jump out of its home, such as low oxygen levels, poor water quality, an aquarium or bowl that is too small, or bullying tank mates. If a fish needs to breathe air at the surface, it rarely jumps out of the aquarium – it just swims to the surface and puts its mouth above the water. Some fish species will however try to escape if the oxygen level is so low that they think they are stuck in a puddle that is gradually drying out.
  • Some fish species are natural jumpers, e.g. because they are used to catching insects above the water in the wild or because they jump out of the water to impress a mate during courtship. Such species should always be kept in covered aquariums to prevent them from ending up on the floor.
  • Always get a second opinion. Unfortunately, many pet shops that sell goldfish bowls, betta vases and similar have tendency to downplay the requirements of these fishes. If you are told that goldfish breathe by jumping into the air, that fish tattooed with neon-colours are doing great, or that a Siamese fighting fish in a vase need no food because it will nibble on flower roots, ask for a second opinion from someone who isn’t trying to sell you something. You can for instance visit an online forum or contact an aquarium club.
  • If you decide to give someone a pet for their birthday, make sure that you also give them all instructions needed to care for that particular pet. Also make sure that they actually want a pet and have enough time, money and dedication to care for a living creature in the long run. A goldfish can live for 40 years or more.