Carol Norris, 44, of Cambridge, England, said the goldfish, Mr. Fish, was floating at the top of his tank at his 7 a.m. feeding time so she wrapped him in tissue paper and placed him in the empty bathtub to protect the fish's remains from falling prey to the family cats, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
Norris said she returned from shopping with her partner, Darren Bradnick, 40, at about 2 p.m. and the fish started flopping around as she prepared to bury him in the garden.
"I had wrapped him up like a mummy and when I picked him up the tissue was all stuck to him and then he suddenly started moving," Norris said. "I screamed when he flipped in my hand. I was amazed but it was quite spooky -- I don't know if they go into a coma."
Norris said she quickly placed the fish back in water and he now appears to be in perfect health.
"Apparently they can live up to 50 so he could be around for a while yet," she said.
Sherridan Moores, chairman of the Northern Goldfish and Pondkeepers Society, offered some ideas on how the fish survived for so long without water.
"It is possible the tissue paper could have kept the fish wet so it could still absorb oxygen in the air, helping it survive out of the tank," Moores said. "But to come back to life like this after so long sounds remarkable."