Top 5 Fastest Fishes on the Planet
There are around 30 thousand marine fish species known to science up to date. All of these large and small fish inhabit the seas, oceans, rivers, and lakes around the globe. Some of them are capable of developing incredible speed. While the term can be looked at in several ways, including how quickly an animal can kill its prey or react to potential danger, in this article we will try to determine the fastest swimmers. But before handing out the medals, let’s look at the factors that affect the speed of fish underwater.
The Anatomy of Superb Swimmers
As you know, the water is roughly 800 times denser than air and has a much higher viscosity. Therefore, fishes with torpedo-shaped bodies, such as billfishes and tunas, prove to be better swimmers than creatures like eels, flatfishes and puffers, whose bodies are best adapted to life in caves and crevices near the floors and walls of coral reef communities. Generally, fishes that have a more streamlined shape with a pointed snout and a broad propulsive tail are capable of moving through the water with less resistance.
Two other factors that influence the animal's speed in the water are the nature of its surface or skin, and the nature of the flow of water over that surface.
Some of the fastest-swimming fishes use additional adaptations to improve their streamlining. For instance, many tunas can tuck their stiff fins into side grooves in their body when moving at speed. Some other fishes produce a slimy mucus that coats their skin and serves both as a protective layer and a way to reduce drag.
Fishes also use their muscles as a source of thrust. Fast-swimming fish, such as tuna and swordfish have extremely well-developed skeletal muscles that help them to combat water's resistance and move through it. These muscles, arranged in pairs along the opposite sides of a fish’s body, alternately tighten and relax to produce a series of curves that help to push the fish forward.
Top 5 Fastest Fishes
Maximum speed: 110km/h
Range: Indian and Pacific Oceans
Attaining speeds of up to 68 mph (109 kmph), the sailfish is atop the leaderboard of fastest fishes on the planet. It is also one of the most highly prized game fishes. As for the size, sailfish generally do not grow to more than 3 meters (9.8 ft) in length and rarely weigh over 90 kg (200 lb). Notable characteristics of sailfish are an erectile dorsal fin known as a sail and the elongated bill.
Maximum speed: 80km/h
Range: Tropical and temperate regions of Indo-Pacific Ocean
Marlin, a part of the billfish family, are not only among the fastest, but also some of the biggest fish in the world. Blue Marlin females, which are significantly larger than males, can reach 4.3 meters (14 ft) in length and weigh more than 900 kg (1,985 lb). For obvious reasons these fish are considered to be a holy grail for sport anglers and are rarely table fare. Marlin meat appears mostly in fine gourmet restaurants as a delicacy. The fisherman in Ernest Hemingway's novel The Old Man and the Sea was described as having caught a 5.5 meter (18-ft) marlin.
Maximum speed: 78km/h
Range: Tropical and sub-tropical waters around the world
Wahoo is a scombrid fish that can grow up to 2.5 meters (8 ft) in length, and weighing up to 83 kg (183 lb). Their diet is made up of other pelagic fishes, as well as squid. Wahoo’s speed and fighting ability make them a great challenge in sports fishing circles. What’s more, the flesh of this fish is white, delicate and highly regarded by many gourmets. Although there is some demand for the wahoo as a premium-priced commercial food fish, little of it tends to be caught for this purpose.
Maximum speed: 74km/h
Range: tropical to temperate waters worldwide
The tunny is another excellent game fish. Just like the wahoo, it is known for its strength and resistance to capture. Tunny has a sturdy body built for powerful swimming and may live up to 10 years of age. It feeds on other fish and squid. Tunny is also frequently used as bait for shark and marlin fishing, primarily due to its high oil content.
Maximum speed: 70km/h
Range: Open waters of the Atlantic Ocean
The bluefin is one of the largest tuna species. They are highly valued as a food for human consumption and… killer whales. Young bluefin tuna form large schools that can easily be observed at night. Besides their commercial value as food, the bluefin tuna is also a popular game fish.