The fish that can survive for a few days without water do so by breathing the air or by absorbing it through skin. Fish are able to swim and breathe underwater thanks to their intricate gill system. The gills have filters that remove the oxygen from the water that enters and then process... Not every fish can thrive happily in a bowl, however, and in some cases simplicity might need to be sacrificed for convenience. For example, the rule of thumb is that any bowl-dwelling fish should have at least one gallon of water per inch of fish. When you add in fish and snail friends, the size needs also increase. there is really no difference between how long cold water and warm water fish live. It all depends on the size of the fish. If you have a 1-3 inch fish it should live for 2-3 … years. If you have a 4-7 inch fish it should live for 4-6 years.