With the great biodiversity that houses the marine environment, it was not for less that it offered us something as curious as a fish that has the ability to fly over the waters of seas and oceans. That’s right, fish that can get out of the water and fly exist, hence the name they get from flying fish. Very curious, right?

Flying fish

Are you interested in discovering these unique fish called exocetids(Exocoteidae)?? If so, go ahead and delve into this article that we propose from fishlists, where we detail everything about flying fish: where they live, species, curiosities and images.

What are flying fish and where they live

Belonging to the family of exocetid fish(Exocoteidae), there are currently about 70 species of flying fish. These fish are found to be adesting the warm waters of seas and oceans around the world. It is considered that these fish have evolved developing particular morphological characteristics that have allowed them to acquire this ability to plan in order to escape from their numerous predators, such as tuna, mackerel, swordfish and other large fish. However, the exit of the water also entails exposure to other predators, such as birds.

Characteristics of flying fish

As for their morphology, flying fish measure an average of between 17 and 30 centimeters and highlights the shape of their body in the form of an aerodynamic torpedo, which makes it easier for them to reach high speeds. In general, two types of flying fish are distinguished, depending on the development of their fins.

  • Two-winged flying fish: there are species with very large and developed pectoral fins.
  • Four-winged flying fish: characterized by having two pectoral fins and two very enlarged and long pelvic fins.
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Usually, these fish keep their long fins folded along the body while swimming. All have their tail forked irregularly and with the lower lobe longer than the upper one. In addition, this type of fish has flat eyes which help them to see out of the water.

Flying fish

Where flying fish live

Because of their characteristics, flying fish are found inhabiting shallow,near the surface, and in waters far from the coast. Although these species are found in various regions, they are typical of temperate and warm waters, being found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters, especially in areas of the Caribbean, but they are also found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Although they are typical species of the open ocean, some species live in the outer areas of coral reefs. They can feed on a variety of foods, with plankton being the main component of the diet, although sometimes they can also feed on small crustaceans.

Before continuing to delve into these curious species, we encourage you to learn more about fish with these other articles about the Classification of fish and How fish breathe. Another characteristic of flying fish is that, although they can glide over water and spend some moments in the air, they breathe underwater and not in the air

Flying fish species

Flying fish species are grouped into 7 genera:

  • Cheilopogon (Lowe, 1841).
  • Cypselurus (Swainson, 1838).
  • Exocoetus (Linnaeus, 1758).
  • Fodiator (Jordan and Meek, 1885).
  • Hirundichthys (Breder, 1928).
  • Parexocoetus (Bleeker, 1866).
  • Prognichthys (Breder, 1928).

Within these genera, the most common species of flying fish is Exocoetus volitans (or tropical flying fish); with a length of up to 50 cm, this species usually frequents tropical waters near Florida, Cuba or Costa Rica, at a maximum depth of 20 meters. They are also common:

  • Cypselurus furcatus (or spotted flying fish from the Atlantic and Latin America).
  • Cypselurus californicus (or the big flying fish).
  • Fodiator acutus (or weevil flying fish).
  • Cypselurus cyanopterus (or Caribbean Guineaman).
  • Danichtyhys rondeletii (or sea swallow).
  • Hirundichthys affinis (or flying fish from the West Indies).
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As for the classification between those with two or four fins as “wings”, these are some epsecies of flying fish:

  • Two-winged flying fish: Exocoetus volitans, Exocoetus evolans, Exocoetus spilopus and Exocoetus rondeleti.
  • Four-winged flying fish: Cheilopogon exsiliens (urañola), one of the species with the largest fins reaching the entire length of its body, Cypselurus heterurus (juriola), Cypselurus californicus and Exocoetus lineatus (arañola).

Already knowing several characteristics of these aquatic animals, we are going to comment on some other curiosities of flying fish:

Curiosities of flying fish

Already knowing several characteristics of these aquatic animals, we are going to comment on some other curiosities of flying fish:

How Flying Fish Fly

Despite their name, in reality, flying fish do not fly as such, but glom in the air after propelling themselves at full speed out of the water. Still, have you ever wondered how flying fish fly? The planning process is complex given its size and is not limited to a simple jump out of the water. In order to lift the flight and glide, flying fish first need to reach a very high speed underwater, up to about 60 kilometers per hour. Heading towards the surface, the flying fish propel themselves out of the water and unfold their fins as wings as they cross the surface of the water, while waving their tails still in the water to give them more momentum. In the image below, you can see this movement.

How many meters can a flying fish fly

Once in the air, they can reach the meter in height and even exceed it, and plan distances up to 200 meters at a speed of 16 kilometers per hour. It is a considerable distance considering that they do not have wings, but that they achieve by waving the caudal fin up to more than 50 times per second. When they approach the surface again, the flying fish can beat their tail to continue flying without returning to the water, being able to extend their flight to distances of 400 meters thanks to these successive glides.

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How long flying fish can be flying

This is one of the most common doubts to know that they are fish that can go through the air flush with the surface of the water, but that they need to be in the water to breathe. The truth is that it has been seen that they can plan for 45 seconds.