What They Eat

Despite its appearance as a barren wasteland, perhaps a desert, of snow and ice, the Arctic has plenty of living organisms thriving in its freezing temperatures.

But because of the fewer flora and fauna, the food chain is more straightforward than in most other ecosystems, such as tropical and temperate regions.

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In the Arctic, most of the food chain or food web dynamics still apply. Here is the typical food that fish in the Arctic eat, starting from the microorganisms. Smaller fish eat phytoplankton that, in turn, can be eaten by larger fish and so on.


Also called microalgae, phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that contain chlorophyll and, thus, need sunlight for their growth and survival.

Most types of phytoplankton are buoyant, a characteristic that allows them to float near the ocean surface where the sunlight can still penetrate the water barrier.

They also convert inorganic nutrients like sulfur, phosphates, and nitrates into macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Like all things in nature, too much and too little phytoplankton will adversely affect the ecosystem. Too much phytoplankton can form algal blooms that generate highly toxic compounds with harmful effects on fish, mammals, and birds.

Too little, and the marine animals that depend on them, such as fish, whales, jellyfish, snails, and shrimp, can starve.

As in most marine ecosystems, a balanced environment is necessary for the creatures living in it to thrive, from the phytoplankton to the whales. Phytoplankton, after all, is the critical food source for krill, shellfish, and fish that are food sources for other animals that are higher in the food chain.


While it only measures about two inches in length, krill is the vital link that connects nearly everything in the worldwide food chain, from plants to animals, including humans.

These small, shrimp-like crustaceans feed on phytoplankton and, in turn, are the main staple in the daily diet of hundreds of animals. These include numerous species of marine animals like fish and whales (baleen whales, in particular) and land animals like birds.

Many of these animals are also on the diet of humans, primarily fish.


In the Arctic, it’s a fish-eat-fish world! The salmon shark is a giant shark considered an apex predator that eats squid, herring, and sablefish, with its favorite being salmon.

They are endothermic fish, meaning they can stay warm during the winter in the Arctic’s cold waters by controlling their internal body temperature.

The gelatinous sea snail, a small tadpole-shaped fish, lives up to 6,000 feet in the Arctic’s freezing waters. But don’t dismiss it for being small and ugly because it’s among the staple food sources for Atlantic cod, among other predatory fish with commercial value.

Fish doctors eat amphipods and copepods, and, in turn, they are then eaten by predatory fish like cod. It’s a good thing, too, that they live year-round in the Arctic since their fellow fish need to eat year-round.


In conclusion, fishing in the Arctic is a worthwhile activity. It is because it completes the food chain from the phytoplankton to humans. If you’re thinking about going on an Arctic fishing trip, you should be well-prepared to cope with the Arctic’s cold temperatures.

To protect your feet, be sure to wear the proper boots, such as the Muck Boots Arctic Ice Extreme Conditions Tall Rubber Men’s Winter Boot. Use clothes that allow your body to stay relatively dry and warm.

The Riverruns Fishing Wading Jacket or the Navis Marine Offshore Sailing Jacket with Bib Pants is among the best.