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Which Saltwater Fish Are Edible?

Updated July 20, 2017

A lot of saltwater fish are edible. In fact, many of the fish we eat come from the ocean such as tuna, flounder, halibut, mackerel and mahi mahi. Most of the saltwater fish we find in the grocercy store and in restaurants are harvested by commercial fishing enterprises; but for many, there's nothing better than getting out on a boat, whether its a charter or their own, and landing a prize fish they can take home for dinner.

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Several kinds of tuna are caught in saltwater, including ahi, yellowfin, and albacore. This fish is tender, and flaky and is also known for its high fat content. Tuna has a strong taste and yellowfin tuna is often eaten raw in sushi restaurants.


Anchovies are found in saltwater, and although they have a salty taste, it is not from the saltwater in which they reside. Processed anchovies are preserved in salt, so they often sit for long periods of time in salt baths. But if you are not a fan of salt, try a white anchovy. White anchovies are not cured in salt so they have less of a salty taste. They do, however, perish more quickly.


Cod is a common and has a mild taste. Cod is often used in processed products, like fish fingers and fish patties. If you order fish and chips, chances are it's cod your find inside that crunchy battered coating.


A type of flat fish found in saltwater, flounder is known for its oval body and horizontal swimming style. Flounder has a mild taste, similar to many other types of flat fish, so if flounder is not available, try halibut or dabs.

Flying Fish

Flying fish are unique in their ability to "fly" out of the water, but not unique in that they are another kind of edible saltwater fish. Commonly used in stews, flying fish can be baked, fried, grilled or steamed. They also go bad quickly, so cook them as soon as you can.


Groupers are one of the largest fish, sometimes weighing over 45.4 Kilogram. But saltwater groupers caught for commercial use generally only weigh around 6.8 Kilogram. They can be cooked by boiling, poaching or baking.


Found in cold saltwater, herring are a small fish, often growing no more than a foot in length. Herring can be smoked, pickled or salted.


Two kinds of mackerel are found in saltwater, kingfish and regular mackerel. Kingfish can weigh over 45.4 Kilogram and are quite oily. Smaller mackerel are also an oily fish, but easier to catch. Mackerel is often used as a substitute for tuna, swordfish or marlin.

Mahi Mahi

Also known as dolphin fish, mahi mahi produces a good flavour, but is fatty. Mahi mahi appears opaque if cooked correctly. It is easily prepared by grilling or broiling as has become a restaurant favourite over the past decade.

Orange Roughy

Orange roughy is only found off the coast of New Zealand and Australia, and is often hard to find in the United States. This white fish has a mild, sweet flavour and can be prepared by baking, steaming or frying.


The snapper family has different species, all found in saltwater. The most popular of the snappers is red snapper, which is a lean fish. Snapper is sold either as a whole or as steaks and fillets. They can be prepared using almost any cooking method.


Swordfish is one of the most popular, edible saltwater fish. Sport fishermen love them because they can weigh up to 454 Kilogram, but are generally caught at around 113 Kilogram. Swordfish has a mild flavour and meaty texture, resembling chicken. Swordfish is available frozen throughout the year and can be prepared by broiling, baking, steaming or grilling.

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About the Author

Sara Gaul began writing in 2008 at her college newspaper "The Duquesne Duke." Along with being published in "The Duquesne Duke," she interned at Culture Saving, a start-up online magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Duquesne University.

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