Types of Fish

Are you searching for the names of different types of fish in English? Fish are a diverse group of animals that vary in size, shape, and color. Their behavior also varies immensely from species to species — as does their living environments and dynamics with other animals. But what exactly are fish and what are some types of fish and fish names? This article will define what fish are and provide a list of fish, their types, and some facts about them.

What Are Fish?

Fish are aquatic cold-blooded vertebrates found both at sea and in freshwater. Many edible fish are great sources of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, iodine, and calcium, but fish also pose a risk of harboring toxins and parasites and spoil much more quickly than other meats, which is why it’s especially important to buy fish that’s fresh, in season, and sustainably harvested.

How to Shop for Fish

Eating fish doesn’t have to be bad for the environment, but it’s important to research varieties of fish and learn when they are in season. Plan your dinners and lunches around their availability to make sure you’re not contributing to overfishing practices.

When buying a fish, make sure the gills are bright red and the eyes are not sunken. These indications mean the fish is fresh. Buy fish that smells fresh, and not too fishy, which can indicate bacteria. Look for whole fish that is shiny (not dull) and taut (not wrinkly). Eyes should be bright black (not opaque gray) and convex (rounded outward—not flat). Flesh color varies among species but fillets should not be brown around the edges.

Types of Fish (Most Popular Saltwater and Freshwater Fish)

Fish are one of the first vertebrates that came to life on this planet. They hold the basic blueprint for all different types of body structures found on the planet and has evolved into all sorts of unusual species.

1. Saltwater Fish

Saltwater Fish

Sword Fish

Swordfish are commonly known as broadbills and are the only species in the Xiphiidae family. They are large predatory fish that migrate as the seasons change. They are popular sports fish and have elongated round bodies. They thrive in the temperate and tropical regions of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Ocean.

They use their long ‘sword’ to slash at prey, injuring the animal so that it is easier to catch and eat. Their long bodies make them agile and fast creatures, allowing them to catch their prey. They have been known to reach incredible speeds of 97 km/h. They can live up to 9 years if they are not hunted by humans for sport and food.

Atlantic Cod

The Atlantic Cod is part of the Gadidae family and is primarly hunted for food by humans. It is labeled as vulnerable by the ICUN due to over-fishing for human consumption. It can live up to 25 years and comes in green or brown colors with spots on the dorsal side.

It lives in habitats from the main continental shelf to the shoreline, which is why it is easier to catch in all sorts of waters. They usually have a length of 61 cm to 1.2 m and weigh up to 40 kg.


Mackerel is a common name given to the pelagic fish which comes from the Scombridae family. They are found in tropical and temperate seas around the world and live offshore or along the coast.

They have black vertical stripes and migrate in large schools to ward off predators. They are preyed upon by Atlantic Cod and larger mackerel, as well as sharks, seabirds, whales, dolphins, and tuna.

They are commonly attacked by all sorts of predators since they are the perfect forage fish. They are captured in huge number by humans since they have a high Omega-3 oil content.


The Rainbow Trout fish is a species of the Salmonid family and lives in the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. It prefers the cold water and usually comes back to fresh water to spawn.

They are recognized by the broad reddish stripe on their lateral line which goes from the gills to the tail. The freshwater forms of Rainbow Trout are called steelhead and are the official state fish of Washington. They can weigh up to 2.3 Kg but different breeds can weigh up to 20 Kg.

They are hunted for sport and food in 45 different countries all over the world and introduced populations can affect the new habitat in an adverse manner. Their breeds are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Atlantic Salmon

The Atlantic salmon comes from the Salmonidae and is a ray-finned fish. It is found in the northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, and rives of the North Atlantic. They are hunted through commercial and recreational activities.

Alongside being hunted, habitat destruction has been the main reason for the reduction in their numbers. Many conservation efforts around the world are performed to save the species from imminent extinction.

Salmon are slightly territorial and may be aggressive to each other on occasion. They do form schools on a number of occasions. They are carnivores and eat mayflies, blackflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies.


Tuna is a saltwater fish that belong to the Scombridae family. They have a total of 15 species where the sizes can vary including the bullet tuna and the Atlantic bluefin tuna. They can live up to 50 years on average and maintain a higher body temperature than the water around them.

They are an agile predator and swim fast due to their streamlined and sleek bodies. They are one of the fastest swimming pelagic fish, reaching records of up to 75 km/h. it is a popular game fish and due to overfishing many of its breeds are close to extinction.

Red Mullet

The Red Mullet is commonly found in the Black Sea, eastern North Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. This demersal fish scavenges and scours along the seabed looking for crabs, shellfish, small lobsters, marine worms, and even dead fish to eat. They grow up to 18 inches and weigh around 550 g.

The Red Mullet is a beloved delicacy in the Mediterranean region where it is cooked in many different ways. Throughout history, the fish has been prized and was even reared by Ancient Romans in ponds.


The Barramundi fish is commonly known as the Asian Sea bass and is part of the Catadromous species. It is found in the Indo-West Pacific region from Southeast Asia reaching upto Northern Australia. They are really popular in Thai cuisine and are called ‘pla kapong’ in the local language.

It has an elongated body, a large mouth, and an upper jaw that extends till behind the eye. They are found in saltwater as well as freshwater and are hunted for sport and food.

They can reach up to 1.8 m in length and weigh up to 60 Kg. They are demersal creatures and are found in rivers, lagoons, estuaries, and coastal water. They usually swim in turbid or clear water with a temperature range of 26 − 30 °C.


The Bluefish is the only remaining species of the Pomatomidae family. They are a marine pelagic fish and live in subtropical and temperate waters. They are caught for food and sport around the world. They have a broad, forked tail and have a moderately proportionate body.

They have a spiny first dorsal fin and pectoral fins that are folded back into the grove. They have a grayish blue-green color around the dorsal while their belly and lower sides are white. They can weigh up to 18 kg with an average weight of 9 kg.

2. Freshwater Fish

Freshwater Fish

Siamese Fighting Fish

One of the most beautiful species of fish in the world, the Siamese Fighting fish is also known as the Betta fish. It is popular in the aquarium trade since it comes in unique, vibrant colors. They are highly territorial and come from the Gourami family of fish.

Males are extremely aggressive and will fight to the death if another male Betta fish is released in the same tank. If the aquarium is too small, the females will also become hostile to other fish of the same species.

The Siamese Fighting fish are found in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. They live in rice paddies, canals, and floodplains. They are listed by the IUCN as a vulnerable species due to the aquarium trade.

Common Carp

The European carp is colloquially known as Common Carp and lives in fresh water beds such as large rivers and lakes all over Asia and Europe. The wild populations are still considered vulnerable by the IUCN, but the carp has been domesticated to different environments around the world.

They are an incredibly invasive species that can harm a new habitat if they aren’t controlled properly; they lay up to 300,000 eggs in a single spawn. They can live up to 47 years without any issue.

Oscar Fish

Oscar fish comes from the Cichlid family and is known by more common names like marble cichlid, velvet cichlid, and tiger Oscar. They are native to the tropical region of South America where they are often sold as food.

The fish has been domesticated to other regions of the United States, Australia, and China as well. It is also popularly used as aquarium fish in Europe and the US. They display territorial behavior and live up to 10-15 years.

Wels Catfish

The Wels catfish is also known as the Sheatfish and is a large species among catfish. It is native to Eastern, Southern, and Central Europe. It was first meant as a prized sports fish and is now found all over the Eurasia region.

It is a fish that lives in freshwater and is recognized due to its wide mouth, flat head, and long whisker-like features. They can live up to 60 years if there is an abundance of food and a low threat of predators.

Sauger Fish

The Sauger Fish is a freshwater fish that belongs to the Percidae family. They are native to North America and form the biggest number of migratory percid in the area. They have two dorsal fins; one of the fins is spiny while the other is soft-rayed.

They are well-adapted predatory fish and have the ability to swim through fast current without much drag on their bodies. They grow up to 300 to 400 g in weight and are generally a dark brassy color.

Saugers typically live in large rivers that have pools with a depth of 0.6 m or more. This freshwater fish primarily depends on other fish for food and feeds on small fishes and invertebrate to survive.

3. Pet Fish

Pet Fish


For ease of maintenance, bettas can’t be beat. Also known as Siamese fighting fish, bettas require separation from most other species, which means these brilliantly colored swimmers do well in small fish bowls. While keeping male bettas separate is imperative, some female bettas can live in tanks with other fish. Bettas are a cold-water species.


Another cold-water fish, goldfish belong to the carp family. Because they enjoy cool water temperatures, keep goldfish in a separate tank from warm water fish. Avoid keeping goldfish in a bowl, as they can grow quite long and need sufficient swimming room. Because they do grow so large, don’t overcrowd your goldfish tank. Well-kept goldfish can live for many years.


Large, lovely and graceful, angelfish appear in various color patterns. Because of their size when full-grown, angelfish require at least a 55-gallon tank. Angelfish do well with other fish species (although they may eat very small fish) but can fight with each other. Provide plenty of plants in the aquarium, as angelfish like to hide beneath them.


Catfish aren’t the most spectacular fish in a tank, but they serve an important purpose. These low-maintenance, bottom-dwelling fish consume algae growing in the tank, so they aid in keeping the tank clean. Choose among various catfish species and colors. Most types of catfish are compatible with the fish commonly kept in community tanks.


These easy-care aquarium fish appear in a variety of colors. There is one drawback to guppies: They breed constantly, so if you have male and females together, the offspring can soon overwhelm a tank. For best results, choose all males or all females. The former sport longer tails and brighter colors.


These small, hardy fish do best in tanks with heavy filtration. Unlike many tropical fish breeds, mollies bear live young rather than lay eggs. If you want to raise mollies, a ratio of one male per three to four females works best. Too many male mollies stress out the females with constant breeding. Mollies tend to nip the fins of other species, so you may want to keep them in a separate aquarium. Keeping a few mollies in a community tank can work out well.

Neon Tetras

These small, translucent blue and red fish hail from the Amazon jungles. Because they aren’t aggressive, they are a welcome and colorful addition to any freshwater tank. Keep neon tetras in a school of at least six fish, and preferably more. You’ll find them swimming in the middle of your tank.


What’s the most famous fish?

The most famous fish is the coelacanth, which has four lobed fins resembling limbs. It is one of the world’s most ancient fish species. Its name means “hollow spine” and comes from the Greek words koilos (hollow) and akantha (spine).

Coelacanth also refers to the order Coelacanthiformes. which comes from the clade Sarcopterygii and subclass Actinistia. It includes two species in the genus Latimeria: the West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) and the Indonesian coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis).

Can fish feel pain?

Yes, fish can feel pain, but it is different from the expression of pain from humans. It is difficult to test fish for pain except by looking for unusual behavior and physiological responses in reaction to certain stimuli.

What do fish eat?

Fish can be predatory, foraging or filter-feeding. Their diets can be carnivorous or omnivorous depending on the species and can include prey from zooplankton to invertebrates, crustaceans, annelids and smaller fish.

How do fish breathe?

Fish usually breathe through gills, which filters oxygen through water. However, some fish breathe using different means. Lungfish have lungs and mudskippers can breathe through wet skin and the lining of their mouth and throat.

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