Have you ever wondered about the notion that fishes drink water? Or do they experience thirst? If so, you are not alone! It is one of the most common questions people ask about fish.
As you may already have thought, they live in the water, right? So, you're trying to think whether they just open their mouth and drink water.
Before we start to think about whether they drink water, we must learn first whether or not fishes do get thirsty. And this is because if they don't get thirst, why would they drink water, right? If your curiosity is killing you now about this problem, then let us handle this problem for you and answer this difficult question.
What is Thirst?
If we're talking about whether they are getting thirsty, it would be wise to know the term 'thirst' first. The most basic answer to this question is the urge to drink water; that is what thirst is all about. The degree of thirst varies from person to person and from animal to animal. You may be gulping down boatloads of water, and still, you are thirsty, while some drink a glass of water and will immediately feel full.
Animals also feel thirsty. Like humans, imminent death will surely come if you don't drink water, as you will most likely die of dehydration. Most animals face these threats as water sources have been on the decline over the years. These are especially true in deserted areas that have a scarcity of water. Simply put, like us humans, animals also drink water whenever they feel thirsty.
Do Fish Get Thirsty?
The answer to that question is that we don't know! It might be safe to assume they are doing it because they live in the water, right?
It can hardly be explained that fishes get thirsty because they are non-mammals! While land mammals exhibit thirstiness as life without water dehydrates them, no studies have shown that fish drink water because they are thirsty.
When you are thirsty, you experience many things, from having a dry mouth, flaking of the skin, dehydration, fatigue, restlessness and many more. And when you are thirsty, you simply crave water like anybody else. Without water, life here on earth would be meaningless as days go by and the population dwindles until there's no one left.
But because we can't judge a fish without being a 'fish', there's no better way to know whether there are behaviours that exhibit thirstiness. But for the importance of science, each creature in this world needs water to be hydrated, and the same can be said for the fishes.
While we know how water plays an important role for fishes, they also have an osmoregulation process to help balance out water and salt in their body for them to live. Osmoregulation is a process in which the body balances out water and salt in the body's membranes.
This process is the same with humans. Two organs power Osmoregulation in fishes and the first one is the gills that function by exchanging water and salt in the environment. The second organ responsible for osmoregulation is the kidney, which balances out the body's salt levels. These are important processes in which a fish should live accordingly and are also why they need water the same way as a human does.
Saltwater Fish vs Freshwater Fish
It's a different case for fishes who lives in a different environment. Let's take, for example, freshwater and saltwater fishes, it has been studied that freshwater fishes don't 'actively' drink water on purpose, and this is because water dilutes their bodily fluids and blood.
Freshwater fishes have a saltier composition of blood and tissues compared to their environment. As a result, the process of osmoregulation in a freshwater fish is to use the kidney to expel a lot of water from its blood and into its living environment, and diluted urine comes out of the body. This is to help water from keeping the freshwater fish's body from diluting, and they mostly pee this diluted urine time and time again to help out the balancing of the levels.
The second part of the osmoregulation process is the kidney constantly pumps salt towards the body to keep the balance of water and salt – this is aided by the salt cells.
On the other hand, saltwater fishes drink water through their mouth to keep them hydrated.
The challenge on their part is the exact opposite of the problems freshwater fish experience, and because they live in a saltier environment, they need to keep water in their body to balance out salt and water.
While a freshwater fish kidney's primary use in osmoregulation is to funnel in the salt inside the body, a saltwater fish kidney facilitates flushing out these salts outside while balancing water levels inside the body.
Simply put, freshwater fishes need more salt because they have a saltier body. In contrast, saltwater fishes need water to flush out salts in their body because they live in a saltier environment.
So, saltwater fishes drink water because they are thirsty?
No, the answer is still no. As we've mentioned earlier, being thirsty is the drive to drink water, which will unlikely be why saltwater fishes drink water. Because they live in the water, they aren't consciously trying to drink water because they are thirsty.
Wrapping Things Up
Do fish get thirsty? Fishes, like humans, share some common characteristics in order for us and them to live. Water is essential for survival, and whether they do get thirsty or not is not up to us. We use to water the same way as almost all animals to survive. While some fishes use water differently to survive, it is still the main concept.
There are a lot of studies that need to be done to further have a grasp on whether fish get thirsty. However, hopefully, this article should answer all your queries regarding thirst and fish. What we can only do is admire them and take good care of them.
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