Sailfish vs. Swordfish: What’s The Difference?

Sailfish and swordfish are both large, predatory fish that live in warm waters. Both species have long bodies with a pointed snout and a dorsal fin running along the back of their body. The main difference between these two species is that sailfish have a long sail-like dorsal fin while swordfish do not.

Sailfish are also known for their ability to leap out of water when attacking prey or escaping predators; however, this behavior is only seen in males because females do not have such an appendage on their backs.

What is Sailfish?

A sailfish is a type of billfish belonging to the family Istiophoridae, which also includes marlins and spearfish. They are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world and are known for their large size and fast swimming speeds, with the ability to reach up to 68 miles per hour. They have an elongated upper jaw and a long sail-like dorsal fin, which gives them their name. Sailfish are also popular game fish and are often caught for sport.

What is Swordfish?

A swordfish is a type of billfish that belongs to the family Xiphiidae. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans and are known for their long, flat bills that resemble swords. Swordfish are among the largest of all fish, growing up to 14 feet in length and weighing over a thousand pounds. They are also popular game fish and are often caught for their meat, which is commonly served in restaurants.

The Main Differences Between Sailfish and Swordfish


The sailfish and swordfish are both large, predatory fish that inhabit tropical waters. The most noticeable difference between the two is their dorsal fin: the sailfish has a tall, narrow one while the swordfish’s is wide and triangular in shape. In addition to their different dorsal fins, they also differ in body shape and size–the average length of a sailfish is about 6 feet (1.8 meters), while an average swordfish measures up at around 11 feet (3.4 meters).

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Sailfish have long bills with sharp teeth at each end; these bills are used for hunting small fish and squid by slashing through schools or shoals with rapid movements of its head from side-to-side. Swordfish use their long bill to spear prey such as smaller fish or crustaceans like shrimp; they mainly eat krill but will also feed on squid if available

Habitat and Distribution

Sailfish and swordfish are both pelagic, meaning they live in the open sea and rarely come close to shore. They can be found throughout the world’s oceans, from tropical waters to cooler temperate regions. They prefer water temperatures between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius).

Sailfish prefer warm tropical waters with low salinity levels, while swordfish tend to inhabit colder temperate areas where there is more plankton available for them to eat. Both species spend most of their time near the surface of the ocean but will dive as deep as 1,000 feet (300 meters) when hunting prey or evading predators such as sharks or killer whales.

Physical Differences

Sailfish and swordfish are both large predatory fish that have some key physical differences.

  • Size and Shape Differences: Swordfish are generally larger than sailfish–the average size of a swordfish ranges from 5 to 10 feet in length and can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, while the average size of a sailfish ranges from 6 to 11 feet and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Swordfish are also more elongated in shape than sailfish, with a long, flat bill.
  • Differences in Fins, Bill, Teeth, and Scales: One of the most notable differences between sailfish and swordfish is their fins. Sailfish have a large, sail-like dorsal fin that runs almost the entire length of their body, while swordfish have a much smaller dorsal fin. Sailfish also have a long, pointed bill that is used to attack prey, while swordfish have a flat, broad bill that is used more for slashing at prey. In terms of teeth and scales, sailfish have more teeth and smaller scales than swordfish.
  • Differences in Eyesight: Swordfish have much larger eyes than sailfish, which helps them to see better in dim light and deep water. This means that swordfish are better adapted to hunting in the depths of the ocean, where there is less light. Sailfish, on the other hand, are better adapted to hunting near the surface of the water, where there is more light. Sailfish also have a higher number of cone cells in their eyes, which allows them to see more colors than swordfish.
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Sailfish and swordfish are both rich in protein, but the nutrient content of each fish varies.

Protein: Both sailfish and swordfish contain about 20 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat.

Fat: The fat content of these two fish is also similar; both contain about 1 gram per 100 grams of meat. However, while swordfish has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are linked to better heart health than saturated or trans fats, it has less omega-3 fatty acids than its counterpart–in fact, some studies show that the amount found in swordfish may not be enough to provide any significant benefits for your heart health or brain function

Taste and Cooking

Sailfish and swordfish are both considered to be high-quality fish, but they have different tastes and textures. Sailfish has a milder flavor than swordfish. It’s also softer in texture, which makes it easier to eat if you’re not used to eating fish that has bones in it.

Swordfish is firmer and more flavorful than sailfish–it has a “meatier” taste that some people prefer over other types of seafood like salmon or shrimp because it isn’t as delicate as those other options can be when cooked properly (or improperly). To reduce the strong odor associated with cooking any type of seafood, try using lemon juice instead of vinegar when marinating your meat before cooking; this will help cut down on any unwanted odors while adding some extra flavor!

Price and Availability

Sailfish and swordfish are both popular fish that are available in the market. However, there are some differences between these two species and their availability in the market.

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The sailfish is a small marine fish that can be found in tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, swordfish is a large marine fish found primarily in temperate oceans around North America and Europe but also occasionally seen off Africa’s west coast as well as Japan and Australia’s east coast. This means that you’ll have more chance of spotting a sailfish if you’re vacationing somewhere along Florida or Hawaii than if you’re vacationing somewhere off Norway or South Africa!

Furthermore, while both types of seafood cost about $10 per pound (USD), swordfish tends to be less expensive because it’s easier for fishermen who catch them at sea–and therefore less laborious on their part–than catching sailfishes which tend not only swim faster than their counterparts but also live deeper under water where they’re harder for humans (or even machines) to reach without special equipment like scuba gear!


Sailfish and swordfish are both great options for eating fish. They’re both high in protein and low in fat, but they differ in taste and texture. If you want something that’s milder than swordfish but still has a firm texture, then sailfish is the way to go! It also has less mercury than swordfish (which means it’s safer for pregnant women).

If you like bolder flavors and a softer consistency when eating seafood, then swordfish is probably better suited for your palate. The only downside is that this type of fish may be harder on your wallet than its counterpart due to its popularity among chefs who use it as an ingredient in many dishes at restaurants across America–but if money isn’t an issue for you then go ahead!

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