Do Fish Have Tongues?

So we know that fish are the biggest strange creature in the world.

Because there is always something new we gonna read about them. It is everlasting.

Ever thought Do fish have tongues? If yes, Why do they have tonguesDo they have taste buds? etc.

Here in this article, we got you covered with every answer to your questions regarding fish tongues, their taste buds, the difference between the human tongue and fish tongue, and many more interesting facts.

So we have never seen a fish tongue but we set out on a missing to find out if this is true or not.

Okay, come on let us dig into it.

Do Fish Have Tongues?

Yes, fishes do have tongues. But, they are not the same as mammal tongues. A fish’s tongue is a bony structure formed from the floor of the mouth that serves to protect the ventral aorta. Some fish have tongues, but many don’t. Those that don’t have maybe ended up losing their tongue due to parasites.

Let’s start off simple. what is a tongue?

In most vertebrates, it’s a muscular organ at the bottom of our mouths that helps us move food around.

The tongue helps us with chewingbreaking downing our food, and swallowing.

Our tongue also hosts a majority of our taste sweetsavorysoursaltybitter, and salty.

So, do fish have tongues?

Many species of fish have a bony structure in their mouth called a basihyal.

Which looks similar to a tongue and lies along the bottom of the mouth.

This structure has a very narrow range of motion and doesn’t have many muscles. It also lacks any taste buds.

So it’s not very muscular and doesn’t have taste buds.

The only thing it does have in common with the human tongue is its location at the bottom of the mouth!

The basihyal is thought to have evolved as a barrier for the ventral aorta of the fish, which is an artery near the bottom of the fish’s mouth.

The basihyal helps to protect the ventral aorta from damage, such as… due to squirming pray.

We could hardly call this a “tongue” since it has none of the features or functions of one.

It’s just a protective barrier in the same location as most vertebrate tongues.

So most fish don’t have a functional tongue.

Why? Turns out.. they don’t need one!

Underwater, fish just suck water containing food into their mouths and to the back of their throats, where they can swallow.

Remember that life began in water.

So, fish developed this feeding mechanism before any creature ever walked on land.

Why do fish have tongues?

Fish have tongues for various reasons:

  1. It protects the ventral aorta of the fish.
  2. The tongue has teeth that help to hold prey items.
  3. Tongue transports the food quickly into and through the mouth.
  4. The tongue moves oxygenated water through the mouth to the gills, helping the fish to breathe.
  5. To lick all the lickable and taste all the tastable.

Here’s the cool part, as fish evolved to walk on land. They had to evolve to eat on land, too!

When you’re surrounded by air, this sucking mechanism that most fish use underwater does not work.

Air alone can’t push water to the back of your throat and allow you to swallow.

Instead, land-dwelling vertebrates evolved tongue that food catches and moves food to the back of the throat to let them have a delicious meal.

So fish don’t need tongues…because they have water!

Scientists studied modern-day amphibians called mudskippers to get an idea of how fish evolved to eat on land.

These critters climb onto land with their mouths filled with water.

Using x-ray scanners and high-speed video cameras, these scientists watched mudskippers suck food into their mouths, along with the water already inside, and used the flow of the water to help them swallow their food.

In this case, the water is acting like a “hydroponic tongue”.

Pushing food to the back of the throat to allow for eating.

Scientists believe this is how the first land animals ate until they evolved fleshy tongues, which let them be even more dependent on land.

Do Fish Have Taste Buds?

Do Fish Have Taste Buds

Yes, fish have taste buds, Just like humans. Their taste buds have the ability to distinguish between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Fish have taste buds not only on their tongues but on their bodies too. Taste buds need moisture to work and because fish are surrounded by water all the time, taste buds can survive on the exterior skin of their flanks and fins as well as inside their mouths.

fish structure

So, finally, you got the answer to ‘do fish have tongues?

Now let us discuss do fish have taste buds and how they identify their food.

You probably maybe knowing what fishes taste like. But, do you know how fish tastes?

Fish have tastebuds, just like humans. Like all humans and vertebrates, fish also have five senses, which includes a sense of taste. And you know it’s probably more powerful than humans and other living vertebrates.

Their taste buds have the ability to identify the difference between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

For fish, the taste isn’t limited to the tongue. Fish have taste buds not only on their mouth but also on their lips and body including fins.

Taste buds need moisture to work and because fish are surrounded by water every time, taste buds can survive on the exterior skin of their flanks and fins as well as inside their mouths.

How fish identify their food?

Having the ability to taste with their bodies helps fish find food. Instead of smelling food nearby, they can taste it, long before the food gets anywhere near their mouth.

fish taste buds

An average human being has about 10,000 taste buds.

This number may seem like a lot, but when we compare with other animal’s taste bud it’s very very low.

That is because animals do have taste buds not only on their mouth but also on their whole body.

At least 680,000 taste buds can be found on fish. The number here is large because they do contain taste buds on their whole body including fins.

Do Fish Like Sweets?

So, you came to know about do fish have tongues? and also do fish have taste buds?

Now, let us discuss do fish like sweets?

Fish have the same taste buds as humans. But they are way more powerful than ours.

Fish taste buds are sensitive to sweet, sour, salt, and bitter chemicals.

Their taste buds are particularly more sensitive to acidic chemicals.

But, their sensitivity to sweet and salt is quite low than humans.

They don’t respond to sweet much. Because there are not many sweet substances in water.

It is as simple as that.

Do All Fish Have Tongues?

Do All Fish Have Tongues

No, all fish don’t have tongues. Only some fish have tongues and the one who doesn’t they may be replaced by the parasites.

For every fish tongue is necessary. Because the tongue plays a very important role and helps fish in various ways.

From breathing the oxygen underwater to digesting food. Fish requires tongue for that everything.

Fish don’t only use their fish for tasting purposes but they take place in very important functions.

Here we covered some of the fish having and not having a tongue.

Do Betta Fish Have Tongues?

Do Betta Fish Have Tongues

Yes, like other fishes, Betta fish also do have tongues.

Since they are very small in size. The tongue of betta fish is not clearly visible.

They do have a thin tongue like structure in their mouth that they frequently take out and lick when they are feed food.

Betta fish’s tongue is made of tough cartilage and can only move up and down. Which assists in swallowing food.

Like other fish, betta fish also has powerful taste buds and they have the ability to taste their food from far away without even tasting.

Do Anglerfish Have Tongues?

Do Anglerfish Have Tongues

Yes, Anglerfish do have tongues.

They stay mostly in the bottom of the water. They are venomous and they hunt their prey with their tongues.

They have a worm-like tongue and they can easily catch the attention of passing fish and prey them.

The Anglerfish is carnivorous and is thus adapted for the capture of prey.

They are very sensitive aquatic animals and with unique figures and shapes.

Do Codfish Have Tongues?

Do Codfish Have Tongues

Yes, Codfish do have tongues.

Codfish tongues are almost always attached to the bottom of the mouth, so they don’t protrude.

Their tongues have a jelly-like texture.

In many places, the tongue of codfish is eaten and is a way more popular.

Fried cod tongues are a traditional Newfoundland food, often it is served as an appetizer. They are a little muscle from the neck of the fish.

Do Pufferfish Have Tongues?

Do Pufferfish Have Tongues

No, Pufferfish don’t have tongues.

In fact, they have teeth on their mouth that too only 4. Their teeth never stop growing.

Many fish species have teeth that stop growing at some point, but pufferfish does not.

Pufferfish are among the most poisonous aquatic animals on the earth.

Difference Between Mammal and Fish Tongues

Mammals Tongues Fish Tongues
Muscular organ Bony Structure
Easy to move Hard to move
Located on the floor of the mouth Located on the floor of the mouth
Allow them to suck Allow them to transport food quickly
Very weak taste buds Powerful taste buds
Used to ingestion and consumption Used to protect the ventral aorta
Helps digestion of food Helps in spread oxygen in the body

Do Fish Sleep?

Yes, fish do sleep. But, since fish live in an environment unlike ours, laying down and sleeping like a human can be dangerous. They rest their brains in parts at different times and are never completely unconscious.

How do fish sleep?

Some fish like the shark keep swimming in their sleep.

Tuna fish rest motionless at night, suspended in the water.

Bass or perch sleeps under or on top of logs.

Reef fish seek refuge in crevices.

Parrotfish build a cocoon of mucus in which to sleep.

When it’s bedtime I tuck into my nice warm bed and snuggle under the covers.

Fish, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. So, what do you think? Can fish sleep? How would they even do that?

Fish don’t sleep as humans do, but they do need rest.

To understand how fish do this, we need to expand our definition of sleep.

Research shows that fish have periods of reduced metabolic activity while remaining alert for danger.

Zebrafish, for example, show slower breathing during sleep, they’ve been shown to take naps, and they can even suffer from sleep deprivation.

And, zebrafish are influenced by melatonin, just like humans It regulates their sleep cycle based on the light surrounding them.

Note that some aquarium fish can only sleep when their surroundings are dark, so do your pets a favor and turn the lights off overnight.

The National Sleep Foundation describes fish sleep as a “dreaming state” where their metabolic rate decreases, allowing the body to restore itself.

How exactly fish do that depends on the species.

Some fish float in the water, others wedge themselves in a secure spot in some mud or coral, and some even find a nest to nap in.

As you may know, many sharks need to keep moving water across their gills and be able to breathe. If they stop, they won’t be able to breathe and will eventually die,

To survive this sleep conundrum, some sharks use something called “yo-yo diving.” They swim up near the surface and glide downward as they’re resting.

They use this technique to keep breathing while resting and repeat the cycle as needed.

Cuttlefish, which are in the same classes octopuses and squids, actually display a kind of REM or rapid eye movement sleep.

Scientists discovered this pattern as they witnessed cuttlefish resting with their skin a dull color for 10 to 15 minutes, and then, they would flash bright colors for a few minutes and repeat the process.

And one more spooky fact.

Fish don’t have eyelids, so they don’t actually get any “shut-eye” they sleep with their eyes wide open.

So if you look at your pet fish in the middle of the night and it’s staring at you with its eyes wide open, floating gently in the water, chances are it’s just taking a well-deserved nap.


What does a fish tongue look like?

Fish tongues are not similar as humans. It is a bony structure formed from the floor of the mouth. Commonly known as basihyal. This structure has a very narrow range of motion and doesn’t have many muscles. It also lacks any taste buds.

Which animal does not have a tongue?

Some animals which don’t have a tongue naturally are sea starssea urchinsechinoderms, and crustaceans, etc.

Do fish have feelings?

Yes, according to Jonathan Balcombe, author of What A Fish Knows, fish have feelings. He says that fish have a conscious awareness that allows fish to experience pain, recognize humans, feel alone, and they do also have memories.

Do salmon have tongues?

Yes, salmon fish do have tongues. Like every other fish they the same bony structure tongue with the same functions.

Do fish get thirsty?

No, fish don’t get thirsty because as they live in water and they probably don’t take it as a conscious response to drink water. They do absorb all the water when they need through their gills. It’s unlikely that fish are also driving into such force. So, they don’t ever get thirsty!

Do sharks have tongues?

Yes, Shark does have a tongue. It is referred to as basihyal. It is a small, thick piece of cartilage located on the floor of the mouth of sharks and every other fish. They play a very important role in the functioning of the body.

Do fishes have brains?

Yes, fish does have brains. Fish typically have a quite small brain relative to body size as compared to other animals. One-fifteenth brain mass of fish is similar to a bird and other mammals. The cerebellum of cartilaginous and bony fishes is large and complex.

Do betta fish have tongues?

Yes, like other fishes, Betta fish also do have tongues. Since they are very small in size. The tongue of betta fish is not clearly visible. They do have a thin tongue like structure in their mouth that they frequently take out and lick when they are feed food.

Do all vertebrates have tongues?

Yes, most of the vertebrates do have tongues. There are very few and unknown which may don’t have tongues. Because for every vertebrates it is necessary to have a tongue which helps them to chew, eat, swallow, and to digest the food properly.

So we hope you got all your answers about ‘Do fish have tongues‘.

And let us know what you want to read more about fishes in the comment section below.

While in this article, we only focused to solve your asked question ‘Do fish have tongues‘. But, we are not stopping here.

There are infinite questions a human can get when exploring the fish species.

Some questions we did cover for you are listed below. Do have a read. Gain new knowledge.