Why Not Farting Can Be Deadly For One Species Of Fish

Every human alive produces flatulence – farts. Flatologists — that is, doctors who study farting — say that flatulence is caused by the digestive system generating gasses as it breaks down food, per Houston Methodist. "Flatulence is a normal physiological process, which occurs when the bacteria in the large intestine (colon) metabolize things in our diet that we can't metabolize. If we didn't pass gas, we would explode," said Dr. Eamonn Quigley, a gastroenterologist.

Most animals, as it happens, would prefer not to explode, and farting is a way for them to avoid that, as you have probably figured out if you've spent any time around an old dog. Many animals have alternate ways of relieving themselves — sloths breathe out their noxious methane digestive gas, and woodlice replace both urination and farts with exhaling ammonia through their exoskeleton, according to Mental Floss, which points out these full-body "farts" can last an hour. But for one species, farting takes on a new level of urgency.

Floating algae fart balloons

According to Mental Floss, Bolson pupfish have an incredibly gassy diet — one that even puts you after eating your famous "Brussels Sprouts and Hard-Boiled Egg Salad" dish to shame. The culprit here is algae, which is plentiful in the fresh bodies of water of Northern Mexico, where the Bolson pupfish are native. During warm temperatures, algae produces gas bubbles, which the pupfish can accidentally eat when they're trying to get their algal treats.

Unfortunately, this has a nasty side effect for the pupfish. The air fills their intestines and stomach, distending it and upsetting the fish's center of balance. This makes it tricky for the fish to swim straight. The fish might try to bury itself in the sand to protect it from predators, but the air in its digestive tract will make it float up toward the surface, where birds can easily pick it off. Farting, in this instance, becomes a matter of survival.

If they hold it in, they'll explode

If human beings didn't release their flatulence — if they didn't fart — their intestines would explode (via Houston Methodist). In reality, though, it's not really impossible to hold in a fart forever. There's a hole right there (you know the one). Air gets out. So, according to Healthline, there is no evidence that holding a fart in could kill you, though the gas might be painful. (Biologically, if not socially, it's better out than in.)

Bolson pupfish, however, are really good at holding it in. In fact, they're too good at it. They really can explode from not farting, and they have. About 300 Bolson pupfish have been found dead from a lack of passing flatulence, according to Business Insider India. "It really is a case of fart or die," wrote the scientists Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti, authors of "Does it Fart?" a complete compendium on which animals fart and which don't.