The Fastest Fish In The World

Some say the fastest fish in the world is the sailfish, but the real story is a bit more complicated. Ever wanted to know what the fastest fish in the world is? This turns out to be a difficult question to answer since it is relatively difficult to measure the top speed of a fish. The speed of the fish can vary depending on the condition of the water, so it can be difficult to measure their speed.

Various methods of speed measurement are done on fish, including tracking their speed when they jump, their speed at short bursts in the water, and their speed while on a fishing line.


“Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing it’s not the fish they are after.” — Henry David Thoreau

Nonetheless, the following fish are usually considered to be amongst the fastest fish in the world: Sailfish, Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna, Bonito, Wahoo, Mako Shark (not a fish). Let’s take a close look at these fish and see what their top speeds are.

The Fastest Fish In The World: Sailfish?

Photo: Florida Memory via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Sailfish are often considered to be the fastest fish in the entire ocean, and their powerful fins give them the ability to leap quickly out of the water or swim at high speeds over short distances. The large dorsal fin on their back is the sailfish’s most notable feature and they also have long, spear-like upper-jaws. According to the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, the top speed of the Sailfish was clocked at a speed of over 68 miles per hour while leaping. Sailfish are capable of growing up to ten feet long and weigh somewhere around 128 pounds. Sailfish are found in tropical and temperate waters around the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and they subsist primarily on smaller fish and cephalopods.


Photo: paulbr75 via Pixabay, CC0

There are many different species of marlins that can be found throughout the world, including the black marlin, the Indo-Pacific blue marlin, the striped marlin, the Atlantic blue marlin, and the white marlin. Marlins are notable for their long, spear-like jaws and prominent dorsal fins, making them look similar to Sailfishes. Like sailfishes, they are often said to be amongst the fastest fish in the world. According to measurements, the marlin is able to pull line off a fishing reel at around 120 feet a second, which translates to a swimming speed of around 80 miles per hour. Their leaping speed is thought to be around 50 mph.



Photo: OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay, CC0

Swordfish are yet another species of fish with high leaping speed and swimming speed. Swordfish are known for their sword-esque bills, which they use to hunt. The slash or spear their prey with this bill. The swordfish has a tall dorsal fin on their back and a brown underside. The top speed of a swordfish is difficult to measure but some calculations have said that they can swim around 60 miles per hour, or up to around 80 miles per hour. Swordfish can be found throughout most of the world’s waters, in areas of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Swordfish can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea.

“Hate is like a swordfish, working through water invisibly and then you see it coming with blood along its blade, but transparency disarms it.” — Pablo Neruda


There are many different types of tuna, some of which can grow quite large. Bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna, in particular, grow rather large and are said to be fast swimmers, capable of reaching speeds around 40 miles per hour. One study tracked the swimming speed of a yellowfin tuna at approximately 46 miles per hour. The maximum speed of a bluefin tuna is said to be around 43.5 miles per hour.

Bluefin tuna can grow up to more than ten feet long while yellowfin tuna can grow up to more than 7 feet long. Atlantic bluefin are found throughout large regions of the western Atlantic, running from Newfoundland in Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. They can also be found throughout the eastern Atlantic from Iceland all the way to the Canary Islands and even in the Mediterranean Sea. Southern bluefin tuna are found throughout the southern hemisphere in between 30 to 50 degrees latitude. Yellowfin tuna can be found throughout subtropical and tropical waters all around the world.

Albacore tuna are also capable of reaching fairly high speeds, around 40 miles per hour if current records are correct. Albacore tuna can be found all around the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, and they are the type of tuna usually sold as canned tuna. Their maximum size is approximately 4 feet in length, while they are around 90 pounds in weight.



Photo: By Sherman Foote Denton – ‘State of New York Annual Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries, Game, and Forests (1895-1906) , Public Domain,

Bonito is a name commonly given to fish of the Sarda genus. The sarda genus includes fish like the striped bonito, the Pacific bonito and the Atlantic bonito. Most Sarda are also in the mackerel family. When leaping, bonito have been clocked reaching speeds of around 40 miles per hour. They are capable of growing up to around 30-40 inches and have a very streamlined look about them. The stripes bonito have on their sides is their most distinguishing characteristic.


Photo: By Unknown – NOAA FishWatch, Public Domain,

The fish known as Wahoo can found in tropical and subtropical waters all around the world, in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas as well as the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. They have a slender look to them, with a light belly and green sides. The maximum speed of the Wahoo is said to be approximately 50 miles per hour, as clocked by scientists studying the speed of the wahoo’s swimming bursts. Wahoo typically range in size from around five feet long to eight feet long.

Mako Shark

Photo: By Mark Conlin, SWFSC Large Pelagics Program – , Public Domain,

While technically not a fish, the Mako shark is capable of reaching around 46 miles per hour, this makes it the fastest-swimming shark known to scientists. The mako shark can be found in tropical and temperate waters around the world, largely in the gulf stream or the warmer waters off the shores of major landmasses. It can be found in the western Atlantic from Argentina running all the way to Nova Scotia. Mako sharks feed primarily on smaller bony fish and cephalopods. Mako sharks are usually around ten feet in length and range from 60-13k kilograms in weight. The females of the species are typically a little larger than the males, making them a sexually dimorphic species.

“Sharks have been around for a very long time. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs. The reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.” — Douglas Adams



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