The Most Common Fish

The most common fish in the ocean might not include your favorites, and what is most surprising is that you have probably never heard of these fish species before.

To quench everyone’s curiosity, I have researched the top three most common fish in the ocean and the most popular fish species today.

What are the most common fish in the ocean? The three most common fish in the ocean are Clytclothine Bristlemouth, Grass Carp, and Peruvian Anchoveta.

This post contains a list of the three most common fish found in the ocean and five of the most popular fish species. If you wish to see these saltwater fish up close or catch them yourself, this guide will also tell you the areas under the ocean where you can find them.

The Three Most Common Fish In The Ocean

Cyclothone Bristlemouth

The most common fish in the ocean include the Cyclothone Bristlemouth. Among the other fish species in the category, it is probably the most common vertebrate.

According to the estimate of marine biologists, there could be several trillion cyclothone bristlemouth residing in the ocean today. These are 3-inch shiny fish that you might probably never heard of before.

Despite its enormous population, most people do not know about this fish entirely. The reason might be because of the depth of where they thrive. Cyclothone Bristlemouth lives around 0.4 miles or 1000 feet below the ocean surface.

The ocean environment at this depth is similar worldwide, allowing the said fish to thrive in most parts of the world’s ocean.

Another possible reason most people don’t know that they exist is that they are not particularly edible. Cyclothone Bristlemouth has a lining of phosphorescent sacs in their upper bodies, allowing them bioluminescence. Unfortunately, this makes the fish poisonous too.

Cyclothones are only one of the ten species of Bristlemouth. Compared with the human population, the number of Cyclothones will still be 10 million times more than the human population combined with the conservative estimated number of rats globally.

Peruvian Anchoveta

When the biomass weight of the most fish caught is considered, the Peruvian Anchoveta is another most common fish in the ocean. Anglers caught tons of this single fish type annually, and back in 1971, over 13 million metric tons of Peruvian Anchoveta were caught in nets.

Today, this type of Anchovy is among the most common ingredients found in fish meals. They are ground into a paste and feed to pigs, farmed fish, and other livestock.

If you love going on fishing trips, observing the wide variety of saltwater fish living in the oceans, inlets, and bays makes the experience complete. Some saltwater fish caught on light tackle in backcountry waters or from a pier.

Meanwhile, other widespread saltwater fish species can only be caught by an experienced crew using the heaviest fishing gear in offshore ocean waters.

Aside from the three most common fish mentioned earlier, below is a list of popular fish species that live in the ocean:

  • King Salmon – Also called Chinook, King Salmon is among the most popular fish found in the ocean, especially on the west coast. It has reaped its popularity due to its rich, significant, and high fat body. As of today, many have been confessing that King salmon is the best of its kind that money can buy.

  • Striped Bass – Also known as Rockfish, Striped Bass are usually found along the east coast. It is a popular recreational fish with over 200 million fingerlings of this fish produced in the United States yearly for stocking. Striped bass is unfortunately not safe to eat as they have dioxins, PCBs, and mercury in them.

  • Bluefish – This popular saltwater fish is usually found along the east coast. It is a migratory fish known for its sharp teeth. Aside from the use of its sports, this fish is also edible. It has a full, rich flavor, edible skin, and coarse, moist meat. In the late 1990s, bluefish were overfished. Good thing that fisheries management has stabilized its population by 2007 up to this date.

  • Pacific Halibut – Halibut is the largest Pacific flathead. It is a popular fish in the ocean to catch when surf and pier fishing.

  • Redfish – You can find this popular saltwater fish from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic’s east coast. Also known as Red Drum, Redfish are in demand in the south as game fish because they are powerful fighters, aggressive feeders, and are excellent as a meal.

Tan Bristlemouth: The Most Abundant Fish In The Oceans

As mentioned earlier, Bristlemouth fish comes in ten varieties. Tan Bristlemouth is one of them, known as the most abundant fish in the ocean. This fish species is a small deep-sea fish that thrives in the open ocean’s mesopelagic zone.

Together with Cyclothone Bristlemouth, Tan Bristlemouth is considered by scientists to be the most abundant vertebrate on Earth.

One of the distinct features of tan bristlemouth is their small body and largemouth. Despite their tiny physique, this fish is likely predatory. Its thriving population also proves its importance for other deep-sea predators.

Like Cyclothone Bristlemouth, this saltwater fish is also covered with special light-producing cell linings. They use it to confuse predators and communicate with members of their genus. In the deep ocean, Tan Bristlemouth needs to break the outline of their silhouette to avoid predation.

In terms of reproduction, the reproductive behaviors of these saltwater fish are still unknown, and what is certain is that they reproduce externally and have separate sexes. For example, female Tan Bristlemouth releases eggs while their counterparts simultaneously release sperm into the water.

Although they appear tan in color on the surface, Tan Bristlemouths are black in their preferred depth range. Scientists have only studied this fish species using nets to accumulate specimens from the ocean.

Unfortunately, these specimens cannot survive for long, so it has been impossible to observe their life behavior.

Also, this fish species is fragile and small enough that nets damage the specimens, making them more difficult to collect for research.

Habitats Of Saltwater Fish

If you want to see these common saltwater fish up close, knowing where to find them is the first thing you should do. It is also essential to know that saltwater fish thrive only in three types of marine environments or habitats.

  1. Pelagic Zone – Pelagic fish species living in the ocean’s pelagic zone settle in areas that are not near the zone or close to the bottom. Usually, they spend time swimming across the water column while following a migratory route.

    Among the examples of pelagic fish are the popular Bluefish, Tuna, Atlantic Herring, Chub Mackerel, and many more.

  2. Coral Reef Systems – Fish that live within coral reef systems, are called reef fish. Groupers, Clownfish, Sharks, and Trout, are some of the examples of this group.

  3. Near Bottom Of The Ocean – Demersal fish or groundfish are fish species that thrive near or on the bottom of the ocean. They settle in environments composed of gravel, mud, sand, or rocks. Popular saltwater fish like Pacific Halibut are among the examples of demersal fish.

Fishing For Saltwater Species

Now that you know where particular saltwater fish species live, you are ready to catch them. But for first-time saltwater anglers, it is ideal to hire an experienced charter captain or guide to educate them about the techniques and strategies for catching each species.

It will also help you read a list of saltwater fishing questions and answers before your fishing activity to reap good results.

Most Common Fish In Ocean Fisheries

The world’s ocean fisheries data can show the most common fish grown and caught for commercial purposes. Among the ocean fisheries on the list is the Pacific ocean, which contributes over 70% of the world’s catch from the ocean.

The Pacific Ocean

The world’s largest ocean is the Pacific Ocean, and it extends from the north’s Arctic to the south’s Antarctica, covering an enormous 169.2 million square kilometers.

The Pacific Ocean is more extensive than all the combined land areas of the Earth. It contains 15,000 islands, more than half of the world’s islands, and most of them reside in the south part of the equator.

The biggest asset of the Pacific Ocean is its fish. The most common fish caught in the continent’s shoreline waters and temperate islands include sardines, herring, salmon, swordfish, snapper, shellfish, and tuna.

The Atlantic Ocean

The second-largest ocean in the world is the Atlantic Ocean. It covers around 106.4 million square kilometers, and its coastline measures about 111,000 kilometers.

It occupies nearly one-fifth of the Earth’s surface with its vast area. It stands as one of the world’s homes of the richest fishing resources, particularly in the waters wrapping the shelves.

The important fish species caught in the Atlantic Ocean are hake, cod, haddock, mackerel, and herring. Aside from that, lobster, eel, and whales are also seen in significant quantities.

The areas where most fish thrive include the shelf area off Nova Scotia, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the Bahama Banks, the Georges Bank off Cape Cod, the Irish Sea, the waters around Iceland, the Falkland Banks, and the Dogger Bank of the North Sea.

Different international treaties exist to reduce pollution in the Atlantic Ocean. It is mainly that marine debris and oil spills cause threats to the ocean environment, and toxic waste incineration at sea happens.

The Indian Ocean

With its waters covering 73,556,000 square kilometers, the Indian Ocean has been declared the third-largest ocean globally. Its total area consists of about 20% of the water on the Earth’s surface. The continental rims can be seen with small islands that look like dots at a far distance.

The ocean’s continental shelves are narrow, with an average of 200 kilometers in width. Meanwhile, the western coast of Australia is exempted where the width of the shelf exceeds 1,000 kilometers.

The ocean has a depth of 3,890 meters or 12,760 feet. The last 14% of the ocean is layered with terrigenous sediments responsible for the ocean’s significant amount of salt. On the other hand, the southern latitudes are dominated by glacial outwash.

Since the Indian Ocean is warm, it keeps the production of phytoplankton low, making life in the ocean limited. But not along the ocean’s northern fringes and in a few areas elsewhere.

Fishing is limited to subsistence levels. While having limited fishing resources, bordering countries rely on the ocean for export and domestic consumption. Fishing fleets from Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and South Korea exploit the Indian Ocean, mainly tuna and shrimp.

But because of ship and oil pollution, the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf are threatened. Today, marine conservationists continue to monitor fishing activities in the ocean to preserve endangered marine species like seals, dugong, whales, and turtles.

The Southern Ocean

The fourth-largest ocean in the world is the Southern Ocean; it covers around 20,327,000 square kilometers and is usually around 4,000 to 5,000 meters deep.

Limited ocean areas have shallow water, and usually, the Antarctic continental shelf is narrow and deep. Its edge also rests at up to 800 meters compared to the global mean of 133 meters.

The Southern Ocean is rich in marine life, such as toothfish and krill, which fish species the fishing industry has taken an interest in.

The ocean also yields other fish species, including Antarctic rock cod and mackerel icefish. But despite these fishing activities, many are still unaware that the region has active fisheries.

The Southern Ocean has less fishing activity than other oceans because of dangerous conditions, making it expensive and difficult for anglers to fish.

The root of the problem in the Southern Ocean is the increased solar ultraviolet radiation due to the Antarctic ozone hole. It began damaging some fish species’ DNA and reduced phytoplankton by nearly 15%, resulting in low marine primary productivity.

Aside from that, the sustainability of Patagonian toothfish is also affected due to unregulated, illegal, and unreported fishing. An estimated 5 to 6 times the amount of the stock is being caught compared to the regulated fishery. Seabird mortality is also high due to long-line fishing of toothfish.

The Arctic Ocean

To complete the list is the Arctic Ocean, the smallest and the shallowest of the five major oceans in the world. North America and Eurasia surround it, essentially wrapped by sea ice.

Its salinity and temperature vary every season because the ice freezes and melts according to season. The Arctic Ocean has the lowest average salinity compared to other significant oceans.

Due to its limited outflow and connection to surrounding ocean waters with high salinities, low evaporation, and heavy freshwater inflow from streams and rivers. The ice pack in the ocean also shrinks about fifty percent in summer.

Despite its extreme weather conditions, the Arctic ocean has significant stocks of living marine resources. The population of regional fish is changing.

Numerous fish are produced in the Bering Sea, such as shrimp, halibut, squid, scallops, crab, pollock, cod, capelin, Pacific salmon, etc.

Overfishing In The Ocean

The issue of overfishing has been around for some time. If not because of different efforts to regulate the world’s oceans, the world could run out of fish pretty soon.

The FAOSTAT shows that nearly 90% of fish stocks worldwide are either fully fished or overfished. Aside from that, reports also say that the world consumption of fish in every capital is very high due to high demand.

For instance, every individual eats 44 pounds of fish yearly compared to the 1960s average consumption of 22 pounds each person.

In the Mediterranean and Black Seas, 59% of fish sticks are caught at unsustainable levels. The climate change in the region also attracted invasive fish species in the region that affects the native fish.


Knowing the most common fish in the ocean allows you to learn more about what fish species thrive more in the oceans. As mentioned earlier, Cyclothone Bristlemouth takes the number one spot in the list due to its unique population.

While fish like Cyclothone have a successful number, other fish species suffer from overfished. Anglers need to fish only the legal amounts to sustainable fish stock.