Skip to main content - The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


The Fastest Fish

Which are the fastest fish? presents an extensive list containing many records. Many animals reach top speeds with their streamlined bodies – even though they need much more energy to move and overcome the water resistance. Try it yourself: Swim one complete lap in the pool while your friend is running along next to the edge of the pool. Who will reach the other side first? Human swimming world champions are capable of speeds of 3.7-4.3 mph (6-7 km/h) – nothing compared to the sailfish!

The Fastest Fish in the World

SpeciesAnimal FamilySpeed
Sailfish Spearfish 47-68 (75-110 km/h)
Swordfish Swordfish 62 (100 km/h)
Shortfin mako Mackerel sharks 43-50 mph (70-80 km/h)
Wahoo Mackerels and tunas 43-50 mph (70-80 km/h)
Atlantic bluefin tuna Mackerels and tunas 37-43 mph (60-70 km/h)
Blue shark Requiem sharks 43 mph (70 km/h)
Pacific bluefin tuna Mackerels and tunas 31 mph (50 km/h)
Barracuda Sphyraenidae 24-28 mph (40-45 km/h)

Blue Marlin Blue Marlin - Photo: holbox/Shutterstock

Streamline Shape

What does the word mean and what is it good for? Size does not really matter with the streamline shape – sharks for instance are rather big, but also fast. The shape of the body is much more important. This can be easily explained: The less turbulences the animal creates while swimming (e.g. by moving its arms and fins), the better and faster it glides through the water.


Technologies Inspired By Nature

Car and airplane manufacturers are particularly interested in streamline shapes. A low aerodynamic drag helps to reduce the fuel consumption while driving a car. Airplanes even have a special surface resembling the skin of a shark. It has little and hardly visible grooves that help to reduce the aerodynamic drag.

Barracudas Barracudas - Photo: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Short and Long Distances

The stated speeds are peak values achieved by the fish when hunting. Normally they swim slower – you do not run for the school bus every day either, do you (only if you are always late on principle)? The shortfin mako usually swims at a speed of about 31 mph (50 km/h). But it is significantly faster when hunting. Its favorite food includes swordfish – thus it would be silly to swim at 31 mph (50 km/h) and let it escape.

Marathon Swimmer

According to the World Guinness Book of Records, the white shark holds the record in marathon swimming. Between 2003 and 2004, a marked fish named “Nicole the great white shark” covered the distance of 12,430 miles (20,000 km) between South Africa and Australia and back within nine months. With 3,221 feet (982 meters) it also reached a greater depth than any white shark before.

Sailfish Sailfish - Photo: Beth Swanson/Shutterstock



See all topics on