Can You Identify These Saltwater Fish?

By: Bambi Turner
Image: Humberto Ramirez/moment/Getty Images, Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Moment/Getty Images, Jeff Hunter/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Can you tell the difference between a bass and a sturgeon, a wrasse or a wahoo, or an angelfish and a lionfish? Know the name of the species that Nemo and Dory belong to? If you consider yourself an under the sea expert, prove your saltwater fish IQ with this quiz!

Scientists have classified at least 33,000 fish species, and this number continues to climb every year as new species are discovered. A whopping 58 percent of these species live in saltwater environments like seas and oceans, while the remaining 42 percent hang out in lakes, rivers, and streams.

While many fish are known for their interesting appearances, saltwater fish, in particular, have a reputation for being brightly colored, boldly patterned and so vivid they appear to glow beneath murky seas. That's part of the reason these fish are such a popular choice for aquariums, where people can marvel at their brilliant and unique features. 

Of course, saltwater fish are more than just pretty faces. They are also popular with sports fishermen, who fight to reel in saltwater species weighing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Finally, some species are popular with diners,  including options like bass, tuna, and swordfish.

Think you can tell one saltwater swimmer from another using only a single image? Take our quiz to find out!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Even those with bad memories can recognize this royal blue tang, a species made popular in the film "Finding Dory." These saltwater dwellers measure between 5 and 15 inches in length and have a distinctive blue and yellow color scheme. They tend to live in pairs or to group together in schools of a dozen members.

The fairy basslet has an almost ombre style coloring, with a purple head fading to an orange middle into a yellow tail. This beautiful fish likes to hive in coral reefs or under ledges, and you might be surprised to learn that it's dad who cares for the eggs in fairy basslet families, not mom.

Also known as Asian sea bass, barramundi is a saltwater species native to northern Australia and southeast Asia. It is a fast grower and has a sweet, buttery taste, which has made it a popular choice in recent years with diners seeking sustainable seafood options.

You might have heard of "Finding Nemo," but did you know that Nemo was a clownfish, also known as an anemonefish? These four-inch long fishies have orange bodies with three solid white stripes. Bizarrely enough, all clownfish are born male but have the option to make a permanent sex change to female if they choose.

The jawfish looks similar to another saltwater fish known as a blenny but tends to be shorter overall and equipped with a larger jaw than the blenny. These fish range from pastel to black or white, and are known for digging tunnels in the sand to make their homes.

The lionfish has a series of spines on its body and tentacles around its face that fan out like the mane of a lion. Native to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, these fish are the subject of growing concern as an invasive species in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

The goby is the largest marine fish family, with more than 2,000 different species. Most measure six inches or less in length, and many varieties are much smaller. They have a long, eel-like body and come in solid, striped and speckled varieties in many different colors.

The butterflyfish looks like a smaller version of the angelfish. It has a broad body shaped like the wing of a butterfly, and often colored and patterned in the same manner as some butterfly species. This fish can grow up as long as 6 to 8 inches and lives in reefs around the world.

The pipefish gets its name from its long snout, which resembles a pipe. It's part of the same family as the seahorse, and as with the seahorse, the male pipefish cares for the young. This fish has a snakelike body, and its unique appearance makes it a popular choice for home aquariums.

Measuring two to three inches long at the most, the chalk bass comes in shades of blue and turquoise, with black or brown stripes running down its back. These fish have an iridescent shine and may have similar spots that give off a glowing aura.

Closely related to the mackerel, the wahoo can grow as large as 100 pounds or more. Its name comes from Hawaiian and means "delicious" or "good eats." This fish is popular with recreational fishermen because of its speed and agility.

There are more than 500 species of wrasse varying between 2 inches and 6 feet in length. This long, slim fish has thick lips, and its teeth often protrude beyond its mouth. Most smaller wrasse tail behind larger fish species, serving as cleaning fish.

Bonefish can weight up to 20 pounds and measure as long as 25 inches. These silvery olive-green fish are popular for fly fishermen, though they are rarely eaten because they have so many bones.

Striped bass make their home along the Atlantic coast of North America. They have silver bodies with lengthwise stripes. Most weigh between 8 and 40 pounds and are less than 3 feet long.

Blenny are renowned by aquarium fans for their personality and playfulness. These bottom dwellers have an eel-like body with over-sized eyes and mouths. There are more than 800 species of blenny in virtually every color known to man.

Native to the North Pacific and Baltic, the Pacific halibut has a diamond-shaped body but is longer overall than most flatfish species. These fish swim sideways so that their dark mottled top helps to conceal them from predators.

The frogfish is stout and sturdy like a frog but is actually a fish. It has spines and thorns on its body that make it look larger than it is. While the frogfish can change color over time like a chameleon, the process is not instantaneous and takes some time to develop.

The triggerfish gets its name from a built-in defense system. The fish can lock the spines on its body into place to stay snugly protected in small spaces, then use a trigger spine to release the locking mechanism and escape the space. This family includes around 40 species which can be as long as 3 feet.

Thanks to its extra long fins and delicate swimming technique, the angelfish is one of the best-recognized and most popular aquarium fish. They can measure as long as 10 inches and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

The tiny red hawkfish generally measures no more than 5 inches long. Also known as the swallowtail or lyrictail, it has a speckled body that can range from pink to orange, red or brown.

The bluefin tuna can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh 500 pounds on more. This fish is prized by sports fisherman thanks to its size and speed, which can be in excess of 40 mph!

No, the swordfish doesn't use that serrated protrusion to spear fish, but it might use it to slash them at mealtime, or for self-defense. Named for its long, flat snout, the swordfish can measure 10 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds or more,

The Atlantic salmon is the rare fish that can live in either fresh or saltwater. It is born and spawns in freshwater, and spends the remainder of its time in the sea or ocean. Common in the mid-Atlantic and New England area, the Atlantic salmon is brown in color when young, evolving into a silvery grey when it's ready to spawn.

The barracuda has a snake-like body and sharp teeth like those of a piranha. It ranges from dark grey to silver or white, with black spots or short stripes along the side of the body. The 28 species of this fish are popular with both sport fisherman and those looking to harvest seafood.

Tarpon are blue and silver fish measuring up to 8 feet long and weighing as much as 300 pounds. They have the unique ability to breathe air from the surface, unlike most fish. Though tarpon are popular with fishermen, they are rarely eaten due to their boniness and poor flavor.

The redfish is a saltwater species found in many parts of the world. It has a coppery red body with a pale underside, and can measure up to 5 feet in length.

The opah, also known as the moonfish, has an almost comically round body compared to most fish species. Weighing as much as 600 pounds, this fish has a silver face and a deep red body speckled with white stripes. In 2015, NOAA released a statement declaring the opah as "warm-blooded," and able to regulate its body temperature more effectively than a typical fish.

No, it's not really dolphin! Mahimahi, which is also called dolphin fish, isn't actually related to the dolphin in any meaningful way. These popular food fish are also beloved by fishermen thanks to their acrobatic fighting skills when caught on a line. They come in bold, neon shades of green, blue and yellow that help them stand out from other fish species.

The blue marlin can measure as long as 14 feet, and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. These deep water dwellers are blue on top, fading to silver on their undersides. Females are generally much bigger than males, and both genders have a long spear-like protrusion on their upper jaw, similar to a swordfish.

Dorado is actually just another name for dolphin fish, or mahi mahi. This brilliantly colored, iridescent fish has a dorsal fin that runs from head to tail and can swim as fast as 50 mph.

The giant trevally ranks among the most popular sport fish in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It's easily recognized by its high, steep forehead, and is generally silver in color with small black spots. This fish can grow in size to more than 5 feet and nearly 200 pounds.

The mako shark is also called the blue pointer or the bonito. Popular with fishermen because of its speed - it can travel as fast as 40 mph - the mako shark can measure as long as ten feet and weigh as much as 300 pounds.

The Atlantic snook has a protruding lower jaw as well as a black line running along the length of its body that makes this fish reasonably easy to recognize. This species is very temperature sensitive, so it's most likely to be found in tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean.

Also known as the silver salmon because of its silver and blue coloring, the coho salmon lives in the northern Pacific up through the Bering Sea. When it's ready to spawn, the fish turns blue-green with bright red sides and swims to a freshwater source from its saltwater home.

The permit fish is found in shallow tropical waters within the Atlantic Ocean. The fish has a compressed diamond shape with extra long fins and a deeply forked tail. It grows as large as 4 feet in length and weighs up to 80 pounds.

The roosterfish has one very distinctive feature, a series of seven long spines on its back that give it a rooster-like appearance. These fish are popular with sport fishermen, but aren't consumed often because of their poor flavor.

The white sturgeon can be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Nearly fished to extinction around a century ago, it's numbers have increased thanks to conservation efforts. The largest members of this fish family weight well over 1,000 pounds.

The Atlantic sailfish has a look all its own. Metallic blue in color, it has a huge dorsal fin that extends along its back like a sail, as well as a pointed spear-like snout.

The red drum is a saltwater fish with a silvery red hue and a prominent black spot near its tail. Found along the Atlantic coast from New England to Mexico, this species can be longer than 5 feet and weigh 90 pounds or more. It's sometimes known as the channel fish.

Also known as the kingfish, the king mackerel has a silver and olive body with a white underside. It lives in the western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico and can survive as long as 20 years in the wild.

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