When he leapt out of his bowl and onto the floor in the middle of the night, fins looked pretty bleak for Ginger the goldfish.
But unlike his proverbial cousin, this fish managed pretty well out of water – and survived for over 13 hours.
His owner Barbara Woodward had initially been distraught to see her pet lying motionless behind a heavy cabinet when she left for work at 7am in the morning.
Assuming the worst and unable to shift the heavy piece of furniture, Mrs Woodward left for work believing her pet was no more.
But when the receptionist returned home at 8pm, she was stunned to find him alive and ‘flapping around’ her living room floor.
The 61-year-old then used a wooden spoon to scoop the little fish off the carpet, before dropping him safely back into his bowl.
Experts say most goldfish would have suffocated after just 10 minutes outside of their natural environment.
Speaking from her home in Gloucester, Mrs Woodward
She said: ‘I just can’t believe it – how he survived so long I will never know.
‘When I woke up and saw him on the floor I just assumed he was dead. His body was lifeless and he had been lying there for hours.
‘As I couldn’t move the cabinet I had to leave him there.’
Mrs Woodward was given Ginger in August as a birthday present from her husband Alan, 62, and kept him in a glass goldfish bowl on a wooden cabinet in her living room.
He was swimming away at 11pm when she went to bed – but managed to leap clear of his bowl some time during the night.
When she discovered him lying on the floor, Barbara said she was ‘devastated’ – and felt guilty for not rescuing his lifeless body.
But she explained: ‘It’s a heavy chest, and I wasn’t able to move it by myself.
‘I had planned to wait until I got home and Alan could give me a hand. Then I had planned on giving him a proper burial.’
But a send-off was unnecessary after the plucky fish survived – without a drop of water in sight.
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.’
Gavin Gurnell, a local vet added: ‘They are hardy creatures and will last a little longer out of water than other fish, but I would be very surprised if a goldfish would last more than 10 minutes out of water.
‘They need to be moving in water for their gills to absorb the oxygen. It is an amazing story and I have never heard of a goldfish surviving out of water for that amount of time.’
Yesterday Mrs Woodward said Ginger was recovering from his ordeal and would soon be swimming beneath a fish bowl cover.
She added: ‘He’s still not at his best but we’re just delighted he’s alive.’