The Fastest Fish in the World: Sailfish

We’ve already discussed the fastest animals on land – Cheetahs! Now it’s time to discuss the fastest animals in the water. There is one particular species of fish that swim at speeds that no other sea or ocean dwelling animal can. So, without further ado let’s discuss the fastest fish in the world: Sailfish. Just how fast are they and is there anything else special about them.

What Kind of Fish Is It?

Sailfish belong to a genus Istiophorus. This means that they are a type of billfish – predatory fish with a long pointed bill. Other notable species of this genus are blue marlin and swordfish.

Besides their long bills, they also have incredibly large dorsal fins, that can sometimes be taller than their bodies are long.

Sailfish start off as larvae. On average, as larvae, they are 3 millimeters or 0.125 inches long. As adults, they tend to be about 3 meters or 10 feet long, tip of the tail to the end of the bill. They also weigh about 100 kilograms or 220 pounds. Females are often larger than males, allowing them to carry many eggs and mate easily in the open ocean.

How Do Sailfish Look?

That’s how. Image Credits: The Nicaragua Blog

We’ve already discussed that sailfish are large, long, have lengthy bills and huge dorsal fins. But how do they look, besides that?

They are mostly blue, black and gray in color.

What Do These Fish Eat?

Their diets depend mostly on their size. If they’re young and small, they eat tiny zooplankton. As they grow bigger and bigger, their prey becomes bigger and bigger. Once they grow up, they tend to eat large fish, squid and crustaceans. They also consume smaller fish sardines and anchovies. That’s where their large dorsal fins come into play. They use them as barriers, by working in groups, they trap their small prey and ingest them.

Are They Being Hunted?

While they are relatively large carnivorous predators, they are also actively hunted by larger predators.

Shortly after birth, then they are tiny, sailfish are being preyed upon by larger fish who mostly hunt plankton. Once they are adults, they are being hunted by various ocean-dwelling sharks orcas and dolphinfish or mahi-mahi.

As of yet, we are just in the middle of this The Fastest Fish in the World: Sailfish article.

Mating of Sailfish

Female sailfish extend their dorsal fin above the water surface, to attract males and mate. Sailfish couples reproduce externally. Females release their eggs and males release their sperm into water columns. Sperm fertilizes some eggs, and little sailfish begin growing. Females often release a few million eggs during each different mating session, increasing the likelihood of fertilization.

How Do Sailfish Live, Where, And For How Long?

Sailfish are being actively fished for sport. Image credits: Jamie Ewing

Sailfish spend most of their lives on the surface of the ocean. Although, when hunting, they sometimes dive to depths of 350 meters or 1150 feet.

They naturally live in two different locations. Atlantic and Indo-pacific oceans. Some people even consider sailfish species who live in these different oceans as two separate species. But that is not a wide consensus.

In the wild, sailfish,on average, live for about 13 to 15 years. However, sailfish captured and released by fisherman tend to live to be only 4 to 5 years old.

How Fast Do Sailfish Swim?

Okay, let’s get to the big question at hand, how fast are they?

Sailfish can reach speeds of 112.5 km or 70 miles per hour. They can’t maintain these speeds for very long, but it is nonetheless incredibly impressive.


Sailfish are incredibly fast, amazing-looking fish with long bills and large dorsal fins. They are blue, gray and black in color predators who are a nightmare for many small fish. This is especially true due to their incredible speed. Sailfish are not considered endangered, but they are being actively “hunted” by recreational fishers, usually as a sport. And that concludes this The Fastest Fish in the World: Sailfish article. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

If you’d like to learn more about dolphins, great white sharks or blue whales, here are the links.

If you’d like to learn more about sailfish, here’s a link to a different website.

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