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15 Fish Similar to Mackerel

Mackerel in Thailand on a white background.

The mackerel is a fish that is enjoyed by humans and many large predators of the sea, but it is also a fascinating fish that travels in schools in ocean and sea environments. The mackerel is a beautiful fish with vertical stripes and a forked tail. They tend to prefer tropical and temperate climates, but can be found in many coastal fishing areas.

Depending on the species of mackerel, they can live anywhere from four to eighteen years, and live winters in an almost dormant state in their surroundings. There are many different kinds of mackerel, including Indian mackerel, blue mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, and chub mackerel to name a few of the main species. They range in length from one foot to just over two feet long, and can weigh as much as six pounds.

There are many kinds of fish that are similar to them, and will come from other large bodies of water. The diet for mackerel consists of other sea creatures, and they will usually eat squid or sea plankton.

1. Tuna is a fish that is commonly compared to mackerel but lives longer and has different diving patterns

School of tuna swimming on a tuna trap.

The tuna is a fish that is very similar to mackerel in a number of ways, from habitat to schools of behavior. The blue tuna in particular is much larger than the mackerel, and can weigh up to 1500 pounds at 10 feet long. Not all tuna species are this large, but tuna overall can be very big, and that is what makes them so popular as human food.

One large tuna catch will feed many, but otherwise, tuna will live for decades. Tuna can migrate across an ocean, and they are deep divers that can go down to 3,000 feet in the ocean. They swim like a large submarine, pummelling through ocean waters.

Although they are compared to the mackerel sometimes, the larger species will prey on the mackerel.

2. Grunion are smaller fish that eat smaller prey, and they know how to avoid predators quickly

A photo of dying California grunion fish.

The grunion, also commonly known as the California grunion as it is very often found here, is a smaller fish that is typically one-half of a foot long, and weighs only a few ounces. It travels in schools and is very similar to the mackerel in terms of size, but can be much smaller. The grunion will live longer than a mackerel in many cases, but they have a similar diet. The grunion will eat plankton or small crustaceans in the sea.

The grunion is typically characterized by its large eyes and its eyesight matches the size of their eyes. Their excellent vision helps them to locate and attack their prey when they aren’t already feeding off of smaller animals. At the same time, it helps them to avoid predators like the shark or other larger sea animals.

They are commonly located near California shores during high tides and full moons, where they will dig holes and lay their eggs during mating season.

3. The hake lives a long time and spends its life on the floor of the sea while hunting for smaller prey and plankton

Two hake fishes on a white background.

The hake is also known as the Chilean hake due to its location off the shores of Chile, but the hake fish are also commonly near Peru as well. These are very similar to mackerel in size and lifespan, with lifespans reaching as high as 14 years. Additionally, they can be as long as 3.5 feet long, with the females typically being larger than the males, and this is the case with mackerels as well.

The diet of the hake is very similar to mackerel as well, with hake also eating plankton and squids, and other invertebrates from the seafloor. There are a number of different species of hake, with the two most common being the Chilean and the Peruvian. The two species live with a five degrees of latitude difference between them, but they do not typically mix or breed between the species interestingly enough.

4. The salmon is a fish that travels in schools and can live to be a great size

A group of salmon fish actively swims inside the aquarium.

Salmon are another kind of fish that are sold as food in the mass markets because they can get very large and make good money for fisherman. In this respect, they are unlike mackerel, who are typically never large enough to be broken down into several different meals. They can grow to be over four feet long, and as heavy as 126 pounds.

Their lifespan can also be as long as two to seven years. Like the mackerel, the salmon have a diet that consists of squid and sea or ocean plankton. Unlike mackerel, they are known to have a long migration cycle where they can travel for thousands of miles during spawning season.

When they arrive at their destination, the salmon will nest and lay eggs in the bottom of the ocean floor.

5. The Atlantic cod can grow large and live long and are comparable to mackerel in many ways

Raw photo of Atlantic cod.

Cod are a very common type of fish with Atlantic cod being the most common in the species. The Atlantic species is found in the Atlantic Ocean, but there are different species of cod all over the world. Most types of cod are similar in size and lifespan to the mackerel, and can grow as large as 12 pounds living as long as 20 years.

The average cod will also grow to be between two and three feet in length. The cod will also eat very similar things to the mackerel, but typically prefer larger animals like lobster and some bony fish, whereas the mackerel prefers invertebrates. In color they are different as well, with cod being a grey and green or brown and red color whereas the mackerel are grey on the underside with a green and black striped back.

6. The wolfish is a fierce predator that likes to hunt and live alone and is not a fish you want to interfere with

Close-shot of head of a wolfish.

If you don’t have to come into close contact with a wolfish, then don’t, as its name means what you think it might. The wolfish looks like a wolf-like fish, and has the jaws and canines to go with it. Unlike the mackerel, the wolfish feeds off of bigger fish and prey, but it does enjoy some smaller animals like crabs and snails.

It has a similar size and lifespan of the mackerel, living up to 12 years long, and can reach lengths of up to give feet. Also different from the mackerel is how the wolfish swims, and it prefers a solitude life over swimming in schools. During mating season, this fish will swim in pairs.

The fish lives largely in the Atlantic Ocean where the waters are colder. The wolfish has a specific chemical compound to its blood that prevents it from getting too cold, even in cold oceanic temperatures.

7. The dolphinfish is not as gentle a soul as the dolphin sea animal that captivates with oceanic flips

Raw of a dolphin fish placed on a wooden board.

The dolphinfish is a fish that has the diet of a mackerel, but is vastly different when it comes to size and coloring. The dolphinfish is largely green on its entire body, and can get very large, even as large as 90 pounds. The lifespan is somewhat similar, with a lifespan of approximately 7 years, but its length can vary and can get as long as 6 feet.

Its diet consists of squids and plankton, and other crustaceans. It will also eat small fish when it can find them. In this species, the male is typically larger than the female.

While the dolphinfish can become extraordinary in size, it can also be the exact size that you would see in a large mackerel. Like dolphins, the dolphinfish is largely an ocean fish and prevails best here, preferring warm waters to colder oceans like the Atlantic.

8. The red snapper is not a friendly fish, but is a beautiful one to watch if you get the chance

Close-up of a fresh red snapper.

The red snapper is called a snapper with good cause, and is considered a predator in its own right. To that end, it differs from the mackerel. The red snapper will eat almost anything that it can find, if it is smaller than it.

It functions well on hard bottom sea or ocean floors, and also likes the ocean reefs, artificial or otherwise. The snapper is similar to the mackerel in terms of lifespan and size. It ranges from one to three feet, and five to 20 pounds in body weight, with an average lifespan of three to five years.

The snapper has a unique mating ritual where the female send out their eggs at the same time the males send out their sperm into the ocean floor, so that the eggs can be fertilized without getting eaten by predators.

9. The orange roughy is not an avid hunter but takes the lazy approach to being a predator

A group of dead orange roughy.

The orange roughy is a fascinating fish that lives near the floor of the sea like many others, but it likes to be near a strong current. That is because it prefers that the current bring its food to them. The diet of the roughy is squid and sea snails, and they are prey to sharks and larger fishes.

In appearance, the roughy looks like an oversize goldfish, and can live to be 20 years or more like the mackerel. They are also as long as the mackerel and can grow up to 3 feet long, with a large orange roughy weighing in at 15 pounds. The roughy likes the ocean to live in, and has a mating ritual to ensure the most eggs are fertilized at the same time.

It is considered a predator of sorts, but is also prey, considered to be on the path to extinction by some activist groups.

10. The herring has a similar size to the mackerel, and it comes with a silver lining

A group of herring fishes under the sea.

The herring is one of the most colorful fish that can compare to the mackerel, and typically compares when it comes to size. The herring also has some similar coloring to the mackerel, with green and blue tint on the top of the fish, and a silver side along its stomach like the mackerel. It may even be easy for some fisherman to confuse herring with mackerel, as their size, coloring, and habitat are all so similar.

The herring does not come with the stripes on the back that you will find on the mackerel, a key way to determine the difference between the two. The herring can reach just over one foot in length, and it has a similar lifespan that can reach four years in the wild, and up to 10 years in captivity.

11. To many of its prey, the anchoveta seems to have eyes in the back of its head

Anchovetas on a white plate.

The anchoveta, also known as the Peruvian anchoveta, is known in the fish world for its exceptional vision, giving it a reputation for almost having eyes in the back of its head. Although their eyes look and seem normal, it is an unusual characteristic of theirs to be able to filter the way they see their prey. They can eat almost anything, and can even find prey that is smaller than other fish can find, because they can see it better than other fish.

In size, the anchoveta compares well to the mackerel, with a lifespan of up to three years. The anchoveta is a little smaller, at just under one foot long on average. This is another fish species that sends out its eggs and sperm all at the same time in mating season, a process known as broadcast spawning.

12. Ratfish earns its name like other fish named after animals do, and is just as nasty to cross

A spotted ratfish close-up.

The ratfish is a fish that has earned its name by looking like its Animal Kingdom counterpart, and in this case, with a long and strange tail. It is also considered in some circles to be similar to a ray or a shark, but isn’t as large as one. The ratfish can be compared to the mackerel in terms of size.

It is approximately two feet long on average, and will weigh between two and five pounds. The ratfish is a known predator in the ocean, at least to crabs, clams, and other shellfish. Its teeth are very similar to the animal rat as well, with long sharp teeth it uses to break through the shells of the crustaceans it enjoys eating.

13. The flounder is a common fish with a visual field that is anything but

A fresh flounder isolated on white.

The flounder is a fish that is very common on the Atlantic coast, as it likes the cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It likes the bottom of the ocean floor, and has a very ordinary fish appearance to it. Flounder is grey or silver in color.

It has size similarities to the mackerel, growing up to as long as three feet long, with a lifespan as long as 10 years long. The flounder’s eyes are on either side of its head, and when they lie down, their eyes face the water. It makes for a very interesting way for them to catch their prey, and also avoid becoming prey themselves.

Their coloring, while it may seem bland, is actually a way they can disguise themselves by hiding on the bottom of the sea floor, with its grey tone appearing like the mackerel in some cases, but more muted in tone than the silverish hues the mackerel has.

14. The sunfish is a larger sea fish that earns its name by sunbathing in its unique floating technique

A beautiful sunfish swimming in an aquarium.

The sunfish is a fish that gets its name from floating on its side while in the sun on the surface of almost everybody of water that it is in. Sunfish are on average, larger than mackerel, being as long as 14 feet in some cases, with a lifespan of up to 25 years, a little bit longer than most mackerel. The sunfish live in the ocean, and will eat a wide range of seafood.

They like to forage, and have a wider diet than the mackerel, eating sea lions and sometimes even jellyfish. This is another species that mates through broadcast spawning, with this species being able to release as many as 300 million eggs at once. That is not easy to see at first though, as the eggs themselves are approximately 60 million times smaller than the fish they become.

15. The sablefish lives in the Pacific Ocean and preys on smaller fish

A group of dead sablefish.

The sablefish is like the mackerel in that it looks like the mackerel in shape and coloring but can grow to be much larger in size. The average sablefish can grow to be as long as four feet and 55 pounds in weight. A small sablefish can be as short as 28 inches in length and weigh as little as 9 pounds.

The lifespan of a sablefish is significantly larger however, and can reach up to 65 years. The diet of the sablefish is that of a larger fish, with sablefish liking cod, squid, pollock, and sometimes jellyfish. These fish are good at avoiding prey, and can move up to 2,000 miles to avoid getting caught.