Watch This Headless “Zombie” Fish Casually Swim Around a Pond Without a Care

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: March 15, 2023
© Sararoom Design/
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When you go fishing, you expect to see a few and hopefully take a few home. But how do you react when you look into the water, only to spot a fish without a head? Swimming. Toward you! The man in the video at the bottom of the page reached into the water. You have to watch to see what happens!

Can a Fish Survive Without a Head?

Not all fish can survive without a head. Some can survive a head injury, but it depends on the location where the head was severed. If the headless fish’s body still retains the core of its brain, it can still move as you’ll see in the clip at the bottom of the page. Fish like sucker fish have a unique anatomy, with mouths that protrude downward. Their midbrain and cerebellum are positioned in the back part of their heads. Upon close inspection of this specific fish, most of the head is missing but the brain and eyes remained intact.

Can a Fish Survive With Only a Head?

Fish need their bodies to swim in the water or they’re unable to move. However, there have been instances when a fish survived missing half of its body, including its tail. For example, a fish that was rescued from a Thai market managed to make it six months after it lost its tail escaping a cement pond. It was a golden belly barb that had experienced the traumatic event, surviving with fractured bones and rotting scales. The rescuer named it “I-half” and traveled with it to different villages to show others as a rather odd exhibit. After I-half’s death, money was donated for that fish to have a proper burial inside a coffin.

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Overhead view of headless mackerel on cutting board
You’re used to seeing headless fish – but on a cutting board! Not swimming in a pond!

©Aleksei Isachenko/

Headless Fish Swims Without a Care in the World

The clip below was posted to the “Oddly Terrifying” Twitter account. It’s footage of the zombie fish swimming about in a pond. The man who captured the footage was looking for a good fishing spot when he came upon this unusual sight. Perplexed, he managed to get the swimming fish on film. With some context, you can understand that the fish’s anatomic structure is what allowed it to survive.

This fish is apparently quite resilient. Even with its head missing, it’s still swimming and responding to the human at the water’s edge. Through the fleshy bits, its esophagus is visible. Some of its gills still function and its fins and tail are untouched. It’s one of those moments that make you double-take but with the way the fish moves, you’d think it’s just another regular day!

Headless fish swims and responds to stimulus.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a quirky cat mom with a love for books, thunderstorms, and comfy couches where she cozies up with her laptop to write her heart out. Her writing style combines engaging storytelling, vivid imagery, emotional resonance, and educational depth to create a compelling and informative reading experience for readers like you! Her passion and humor stamp her work with a voice all her own and her sense of wonder creates a fantastical narrative that allows you to explore the fascinating world of wildlife through new eyes.

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