Unveiling the Underwater Kingdom: A Journey through English Fish Types

Ellison ClaptonRevisado porIryna Andrus / más sobre Proceso editorial6 min
Creado: Jul 27, 2023Última actualización: Feb 13, 2024
English Fish Types

The underwater realm is a wonderland of colorful creatures, teeming with life in every corner. Among them, fish stand out with their fascinating diversity: from tiny neon tetras to the formidable great white sharks. So let’s learn more about different types of fish, including those dwelling in freshwater bodies and unlimited depths of seas. We will also introduce some idioms inspired by these creatures, helping to enrich your vocabulary and unveil the culture and history intertwined with the aquatic world. 

Types of Fish: Freshwater vs. Saltwater

When we dive into the vast universe of fish, we enter a split realm – that of freshwater and saltwater. Each habitat type requires unique adaptations and strategies for survival, which gives rise to an astonishing array of fish species.

Imagine a river, lake, or pond, home to freshwater fish. These species represent over 40% of all fish species. The goldfish is a resilient creature that adjusts to various temperatures, making it a favorite for many aquarium enthusiasts. Then there’s the catfish, a master navigator of murky waters. It uses whisker-like structures to feel its way around and locate prey.

Our journey now takes us to the ocean’s vastness, the domain of saltwater fish. Here, survival means adapting to a different set of rules. The species we find here range from the tiny clownfish to the mighty great white shark, the apex predator of our oceans. These fish have evolved unique survival strategies and adaptations to thrive amidst saltwater.

Uncovering Freshwater Fish in English

Freshwater fish in ponds and rivers come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Each species possesses unique characteristics that set it apart in the aquatic world. Let’s learn several English fish names: 

  • Goldfish [ˈgoʊldˌfɪʃ]. Beloved by many as a pet, the goldfish is an iconic freshwater species.
  • Rainbow Trout [ˈreɪnˌboʊ traʊt]. A popular target for freshwater anglers, rainbow trout are known for their distinctive coloring.
  • Betta Fish [ˈbeɪtə ˈfɪʃ]. Known for their vibrant colors and elaborate fins, betta fish are native to Southeast Asia.
  • Catfish [ˈkætˌfɪʃ]. Equipped with unique ‘whiskers’ or barbels, catfish use these sensory organs to navigate and hunt in murky waters.
  • Zebrafish [ˈziːbrəˌfɪʃ]. Commonly used in scientific research due to its regenerative abilities.
  • Carp [kɑːrp]. A hardy fish, often found in heavily polluted waters where other species cannot survive.
  • Guppy [ˈgʌpi]. A small, colorful fish popular in aquariums.
  • Koi [kɔɪ]. Valued for their beauty and size, koi are a staple in ornamental ponds.
  • Piranha [pɪˈrɑːnə]. The fish are known for their sharp teeth and aggressive behavior.
  • Sturgeon [ˈstɝːdʒən]. A species prized for its roe, which is processed into caviar.
  • Tetra [ˈteɪtrə]. Small tropical fish, famous for their bright colors.
  • Gourami [gʊˈrɑːmi]. Native to Asia, they are known for their unique feeler-like pelvic fins.

It is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the varied world of freshwater fish. Each species, with its unique traits, contributes to the rich biodiversity of our ecosystems.

Saltwater Stars: A Tour of Oceanic English Fish Names

The deep blue seas are home to an astounding array of saltwater fish species, each boasting features, and abilities designed for survival. Let’s take a look at some of these ocean dwellers:

  • Clownfish [ˈklaʊnˌfɪʃ]. These vibrant swimmers, famous for their symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, gained popularity through animated films.
  • Blue Tang [bluː tæŋ]. Recognizable by its striking blue color, this species has a unique ability to release toxins when threatened.
  • Great White Shark [greɪt waɪt ʃɑːrk]. Though often feared, this apex predator plays a vital role in maintaining the ocean’s balance.
  • Yellowfin Tuna [ˈjɛloʊˌfɪn ˈtuːnə]. This fast-swimming species is highly prized by commercial fisheries.
  • Swordfish [ˈsɔːrdˌfɪʃ]. Known for their elongated bills, these fish are agile swimmers and skilled hunters.
  • Marlin [ˈmɑːrlɪn]. Like the swordfish, the marlin is one of the fastest fish in the ocean.
  • Seahorse [ˈsiːˌhɔːrs]. With their unique appearance, seahorses are known for the male’s role in pregnancy and their ability to change colors.
  • Lionfish [ˈlaɪənˌfɪʃ]. This venomous species is known for its spectacular fin displays.
  • Barracuda [ˌbærəˈkjuːdə]. A fierce predator known for its speed and powerful jaws.
  • Angelfish [ˈeɪndʒəlˌfɪʃ]. With their distinct shape and vivid coloration, these fish are a favorite among divers.
  • Hammerhead Shark [ˈhæmərhed ʃɑːrk]. The species is known for its distinctive head shape, which aids in locating prey.

The diverse world of saltwater fish, from lionfish to whale sharks, is a testament to the incredible adaptability of life. Each species plays a unique role in maintaining the health and balance of oceanic ecosystems.


Idioms and Phrases Involving Fish

Let’s plunge into the sea of language, where fish aren’t just creatures of the water. They swim into our daily conversations through idioms and phrases, adding color and vivid imagery to our expressions. Here are some common English phrases involving fish:

  • Like a fish out of water. Feeling uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a situation.
  • Fish for compliments. Trying to coax others into saying nice things.
  • Drink like a fish. Drinking alcohol excessively.
  • A cold fish. An unfriendly or emotionally distant person.
  • A big fish in a small pond. Someone important or influential within a small group.
  • Neither fish nor fowl. Something that doesn’t fit into any specific group.
  • To have bigger fish to fry. Having more important things to do or worry about.
  • Something is fishy. Something is suspicious or not right.

Isn’t it fascinating how fish have wiggled into our everyday language? These idioms paint pictures of human emotions, conditions, and experiences using the world of fish as a canvas.

Learn New Vocabulary with Promova

Are you looking to expand your vocabulary and learn new words? Promova has everything you need – it will help improve your lexicon quickly and efficiently.

First, we provide guided courses for different levels, from beginner to advanced. They come with word lists, quizzes, and interactive exercises to test your knowledge and help you retain new words. 

Whether you prefer to learn English in a group setting or through personalized sessions, Promova has options for both. You can join our group lessons, where you’ll have the opportunity to practice with fellow language learners. Alternatively, you can opt for 1x1 classes with our expert tutors, who tailor the lessons to meet your needs and learning style.

But that’s not all! We want to make it even easier for you to start your language-learning journey. We offer a free lesson for 1x1 English classes when you sign up with Promova. It’s a great way to experience our platform and see how effective our approach is.


The world of fish is a fascinating realm filled with various species and characteristics. From freshwater habitats to the ocean’s depths, these creatures captivate our imagination. Exploring all kinds of fishes in English expands our knowledge and introduces us to idioms and phrases that add color and depth to our language usage. We hope this guide has inspired you to dive deeper into the world of fish and broaden your vocabulary with these aquatic wonders.


Why do some fish have such unique names?

Fish often get their names from distinctive features or behaviors. For example, the swordfish has a long, sword-like bill, and the clownfish’s vibrant colors may remind people of a clown’s makeup.

Are there fish that can live both in saltwater and freshwater?

Salmon is a famous example. Born in freshwater, they spend most of their adult life in the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn. The ability to live in both freshwater and saltwater is known as ‘anadromous.’

What’s the difference between a fish and a mammal that lives in water, like a dolphin?

While both fish and dolphins live in water, they are quite different. All types of fish are cold-blooded, breathe through gills, and most lay eggs. Dolphins, conversely, are warm-blooded mammals that breathe air through the lungs, give live birth, and nurse their young with milk.

Are there resources for learning new vocabulary about aquatic life?

Yes, there are many digital resources available. Online dictionaries like Merriam-Webster or the Oxford English Dictionary provide definitions, pronunciations, and even illustrations. Moreover, websites like National Geographic have many articles and videos about aquatic life.


Lola Aug 31st, 2023
I never realized how many fish types there are in English! Thank's Promova!