Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.
While some animals eat fish as a side dish besides the main dish, fish is an indispensable food source and staple element in many other creatures’ diets.
Not only do aquatic animals eat fish, but many studies have shown that some terrestrial predators also like eating fish as well.
Today, we’ll get some insight into what eats fish, either as an essential or supplement. Stay tuned for a bunch of interesting facts.
What Eats Fish?
There are many species of animals that prey on fish, such as fishing spiders, orcas, seagulls, bald eagles, crocodiles, sea lions, penguins, and more.
This section includes the 15 most popular animals that feast on fish. Some eat it every day, while some consume other components.
One of the on-land predators is the bald eagle, who primarily lives in North America, particularly in water areas with plenty of aquatic vertebrate creatures.
Eagles start hunting for food by flying low to search for unlucky victims. Once they detect the prey, they’ll pounce it with their swift feet.
The sharp paws and superior speed helps the birds earn a meal effortlessly. Simply repeat snatching, and they’ll be full without much fighting.
Eagles don’t need to eat daily, but they can consume pounds of food within minutes during feeding time.
They also feast on other supplements to fill their stomachs, such as carrion, reptiles, mammals, and other birds.
When talking about what eats fish in the ocean, we can’t go on without mentioning this opportunistic feeder: the shark.
Large marine and on-land animals account for the largest proportion of a shark’s diet. It also consumes aquatic creatures if the main food sources are unavailable.
Sharks don’t swallow a whopping pound of catfish like baleen whales. They’ll feast on large species while looking for other meals to attack.
It’s no surprise that this giant animal eats other smaller aquatic creatures since it lives entirely underwater.
Some whale species are carnivorous; thus, fishes act as an essential element in their diet.
For example, sperm whales predominantly consume octopus, squid, and fish. They catch the prey with their large mouths and chew it using their teeth.
Yet, baleen whales also eat vertebrates, though they don’t have teeth, unlike other species.
This species chooses smaller fishes to eat and often consumes in shoals. Instead of teeth, it captures the prey with a sizable sieve in its mouth.
Dolphins may appear adorable, funny creatures on TV or in theme parks, but larger species are fierce apex predators.
Giant marine animals are usually ‘‘piscivores’ or those loving to consume fish, and dolphins are no exception.
The bottlenose species hunts and eats those aquatic creatures its whole life. This dolphin type can weigh 1400 pounds and have a maximum length of 13 feet.
A unique feature found in eels is that they are cannibalistic and predatory, meaning they can feast on other individuals of the same species and smaller fishes.
While small underwater creatures account for a large part of an eel’s diet, it also attacks and kills other smaller eels to eat.
Eels are opportunistic animals. They rarely choose creatures of the same size to attack but pursue those of smaller sizes whenever they have a chance.
People mostly find sea lions in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere oceans.
These aquatic mammals have a mixed diet with various fishes, and sardines and herring salmon are their preferred ones.
They are clever creatures, usually hunting in large groups when food is abundant. In particular, they would gather to form a crowd and catch those near the cliffs or edges.
Sea lions can consume food of 35 pounds or more every day. Aside from the primary food source, they also munch on octopuses, squids, and crabs.
Killer whales or orcas are members of the dolphin family, featuring a distinguishable white and black body color.
While some species only have fish in their diet, some feast on other water creatures in addition to the main dish, such as other dolphins, walruses, and seals.
Killer whales can eat 30 various aquatic species of up to 500 pounds a day, depending on the prey’s size. Isn’t it incredible?
These predators can hunt in groups or individually. When going in groups, they will use cooperative hunting tactics called carousel feeding, surrounding a school of prey and herding them into a tight ball.
Two of the favorite foods of penguins are krill and fish. These carnivores will go out and find food more regularly and feed more than in the wintertime during the summertime.
Penguins primarily rely on their speed and vision when hunting.
They will dive about 50 feet deep underneath the water surface and swiftly swim upwards once they identify the prey. After that, they use their powerful beaks to capture it.
An adult penguin can eat 3-5 pounds of food a day. However, before the winter approaches, they can munch on twice that much to prepare for the cold months.
Guess what eats fish in a pond? That’s a fishing spider. It is a sizable semi-aquatic spider called a wharf spider or raft spider.
Fishing spiders usually inhabit wetland environments, such as slow-moving ponds and streams, where they can find plenty of small fishes.
This spider species shows off a fantastic hunting tactic. In particular, it will anchor itself at the water surface’s edge while its front limbs are underneath the surface.
Once an unfortunate ripple passes by, it’ll attack by injecting venom into it. Aside from the main food source, wharf spiders also eat various insects.
Sharks and bald eagles eat large fish, so what eats small fish? The answer is turtles.
These voracious reptilian waters feature sharp jaws, consuming some sea creatures, including fishes and crustaceans.
If you raise a turtle in your aquarium tank, you can feed it small fish as a complementary part of its diet.
Freshwater species like the Slider (famous for red ears) munch on moss, algae, tiny fishes, and other aquatic vegetation creatures, whereas others consume insects and tiny fishes (like the Painted species).
It’s not new knowledge that bears are excellent hunters and omnivores.
Foods rich in fat are their favorites; that’s why the image of a Grizzly bear devouring a salmon is easy to encounter.
Salmon has a high-fat content; that’s the reason. Bears also find other creatures like salmon to add to their diets during spring.
Why do bears hunt more frequently during spring? Because streams usually thaw and reveal tons of fish, particularly more than other months throughout the year.
Also, bears prefer small-sized species like trouts since they’re more straightforward to track.
When it comes to scary predators that other animals have to fear in nature, wolves must rank in a high place.
These carnivores hunt and eat various creatures, including fish. They usually munch on fishes found in tidal pools and water bodies.
Nevertheless, sea wolves can swim a long distance to chase and catch animal carcasses and small creatures with their extraordinary swimming skill.
Some studies suggested wolves, particularly Gray wolves inhabiting the Alaskan peninsula, chew only a salmon’s head, not its entire body.
The reason wolves primarily choose the Alaskan peninsula to search for food is the high availability of fish.
We’re so fond of this eye-catching, unique bird because of its beautiful appearance. People often see its stunning orange-pinkish plumage appearing in water rather than on land.
Tiny fishes are the most regular, essential part of a flamingo’s diet out of all marine species.
Studies have indicated that this bird’s plumage color changes according to the nutrients that it consumes.
For instance, if it eats more pink creatures like pink salmon, its feathers tend to feature a pinkish hue.
We can find piranhas mostly in South America, particularly in areas with tropical freshwater. These omnivorous animals eat fish as the main dish of their meals and supplement it with other plant materials.
Piranhas attack the prey using their powerful jaws and razor-pointy teeth, which give them the sharpest bite among all the vertebrates in the wild.
An average piranha can consume a lot of food but no more than ⅛ of its overall body weight.
Great Blue Heron
Great blue herons are wading birds living mostly in Central and North America, mainly with plenty of water habitats. You can find many of them on shorelines, lake edges, marshes, and mangrove swamps.
Since they are carnivorous animals, fishes are the primary food source and an indispensable component in their diet, supplemented with frogs, insects, crabs, and other birds.
Here’s how a blue heron catches its prey: It stays still patiently until an animal enters its scope and uses its extended neck to snatch and attack the animal quickly with its beak.
A mature heron typically consumes about one pound of food or more a day.
How Do Fishes Protect Themselves From Predators?
Most fishes feature armored scales and sharp spines, which help them fight predators and defend themselves.
Besides, pufferfishes and balloon fishes can size up their bodies, hardening numerous sharp spines.
The sharply-pointed, rigid spines hurt the attacker with an unpleasant bunch of needles and nails instead of a breezy meal.
Meanwhile, without sharp spines, sea horses and boxfishes can still make it challenging for predators to capture or injure them with armored scales – an effective tool for hardening their bodies.
There are boundless answers to ‘what eats fish?’ aside from the above predators. Even we humans also consider it a nutritious and healthy meal.
It’s no surprise when fishes are an imperative part of many animals’ diets since most species have a low-fat content (except salmon) and are rich in protein.
Hi, my name is John, and I’m an animal lover. I’ve been fascinated with the animal kingdom since I was 5 years old, and my passion keeps growing bigger as I age. And this blog is where I share my researches and passion with animal lovers all around the world.