Digging For Mudfish


Mudfish is the most popular fish in places like Nigeria, Benin and Togo and Ghana.
Mudfish are freshwater fish that love to live in wetlands or other soggy areas. What’s special about these torpedo-like wee fish is that they can exist without water for months at a time by burying themselves in damp soil, leaf matter, or under tree-roots until it gets wetter again.
Mudfish truly are a “fish out of water”, by being able to exist without water for months on end, slowing down their metabolic rate and breathing oxygen through their skin (which, incidentally, isn’t scaly but smooth).

During drier periods, mudfish simply dig deep, wriggle into the soil and hang tough waiting for wetter times to come. They are able to dig deep, due to strengthened bones in their head and a flattened shape to their skull, making them perfectly adapted to shovel down into moist soil to rest until things get wetter.

This kind of fishy hibernation is called aestivation, and unlike hibernating animals who wake up fairly groggy, all it takes to kick these fish back into gear is being immersed in water again – at which point they wriggle away as if they hadn’t just spent the previous two months in suspended animation.