Coryphaena Hippurus (Dolphin Fish Mahi Mahi)

Coryphaena hippurus

Last updated on June 30th, 2022 at 06:51 pm

Coryphaena hippurus (Dolphin fish or Mahi mahi) is a species of dolphin fish, one of the several species of Coryphaena fish that inhabit tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. Like most other species in its genus, the dolphin fish has conspicuous spots on its dorsal fins and dark lines along its body and tail.

Dolphin fish is an unusual fish that has been recorded in all tropical and subtropical oceans of the world, including the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. It can be found in relatively shallow water and most commonly occurs between 10 and 300 m depth, but has been recorded to depths of up to 400 m in the Mediterranean Sea, while other research has found it at depths of up to 1,000 m in the Atlantic Ocean.

Origin and description

Coryphaena hippurus

Coryphaena hippurus, commonly known as Dolphin fish or Mahi-mahi, are found in the tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. They are one of the most popular sport fishes caught by anglers around the world and are considered to be an excellent game fish. Their rich oily flesh is also widely used as food, particularly in Hawaii where they have been introduced from their native range in the Pacific.

The dolphin fish has an average length of about 1.5 metres (4.9 ft). The body is slender and laterally compressed, with a single long-based dorsal fin extending for about two-thirds of its body length. The color is blue dorsally, grading through silversides to white ventrally; all fins are pale yellow to white.

Species profile

Coryphaena hippurus

The name Coryphaena comes from Greek work and means head like a helmet. It refers to their large heads and wide, shield-like bodies. The name Hippos means horse in Ancient Greek, perhaps due to their typical behavior of swimming with its head out of the water at times.

The species name comes from Ancient Greek, meaning a female horse rider. Another common name for Dolphin fish is Blackfin tuna which can be used interchangeably with dolphin fish. It is one of three members of the genus Coryphaena along with C. anchova or Thunnus albacares (Yellowfin Tuna) and Coryphaena dussumieri or Thunnus thynnus (bluefin tuna). A fourth member was recognized by some but later determined to be synonymous with C.dussumieri.

Pomatomus Saltatrix (Bluefish) Facts

The mahi-mahi is a medium-sized saltwater fish with a wide geographic range. It can be found in tropical oceanic waters around South America, Africa and Oceania. It gets its name from its unusual body shape which has led it to be described as dolphin-like.

Dolphin fishes have strong jaws and long snouts. They feed on small fish such as anchovies, mackerels, and sardines; they hunt by thrusting their sharp teeth into their prey then thrusting them out quickly so that they become stuck in objects underneath coral reefs such as rocks, coral heads, or shipwrecks.

Coryphaena hippurus common name

The common name of the Coryphaena hippurus is dolphin fish

Coryphaena hippurus habitat

The Dolphinfish is warm water, subtropical species that inhabit coral reefs and lagoons in most oceans. They are found at depths ranging from around 10 meters to 30 meters and tend to inhabit areas with sandy bottoms. Large schools of dolphin fishes will use these sandy bottoms as a preferred place for resting and feeding.

This schooling behavior can be attributed to their being hermaphrodites; if one individual finds food it will quickly alert others so they can all feed together. Herding has also been seen when fishing groups come across unsuspecting prey. Once a school of dolphins discovers its meal, individuals coordinate in order to snatch up as many meals as possible before moving on.

These schools range anywhere from tens to thousands of individuals depending on location. There have been reports of some dolphins forming large schools up to 2 kilometers long!

Mahi mahi size

Dolphin fish can grow as large as 6 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds. They are generally smaller than other reef-associated species of comparable size, such as groupers, jacks, snappers, and porgies. The largest dolphin fish recorded weighed 133 pounds. Though it is possible for adult dolphin fish to exceed two feet in length they rarely exceed two feet in captivity.

Coryphaena hippurus tank size

75 gallons or larger is recommended for a specimen of Coryphaena hippurus (Dolphin fish or Mahi mahi). That said, some hobbyists are able to keep Coryphaena hippurus in smaller tanks, around 50 gallons, but good filtration and frequent water changes will be required.

Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus Imperator)

Coryphaena hippurus tank set up

Tank setup for a Dolphin fish is relatively easy, but there are some tricks to know. The tank can be as small as 30 gallons if you are just starting out, though you will want to double that amount if you plan on putting any other species in with your Dolphin fish. They do not require an overly large space due to their peaceful demeanor.

They should always have plenty of hiding spots in case they feel threatened by their surroundings or another animal and having several caves and overhangs is ideal. Having rocks and driftwood arranged around the glass in a way where they can perch from time to time also works well for them.

For substrate, we recommend using anything from sand all the way up to crushed coral that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible, so don’t skimp out on it! Be sure there aren’t any sharp objects sticking up so you don’t harm your friend when feeding him food items like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and pellets! It’s best to feed smaller foods three times a day and make sure he gets enough protein since he is indeed carnivorous.

He may eat a variety of vegetables, but they do not form a significant part of his diet and should only be given occasionally. The addition of filtration helps keep his water clear while removing excess nutrients from leftover waste products and adding fresh oxygen into his home at the same time. This means less stress on your pet Dolphin fish which helps keep him alive longer than those without adequate filtration systems.

Also, remember that these guys love oxygen-rich environments; lots of flow coming through their home via powerheads or airstones are highly recommended!

Coryphaena hippurus tank mates

Most marine aquarium keepers will house them with other small, non-aggressive saltwater fish like gobies, damsels, blennies, fairy wrasses, and Chromis. They are also tolerant of clownfish when introduced at a young age. Fishes like certain Tangs and Surgeonfishes may nip on them due to their small size, but if well-fed will generally leave them alone.

Yellow Tang Fish "Zebrasoma Flavescens"

Coryphaena hippurus breeding

Coryphaena hippurus

The mahi-mahi is an anadromous, pelagic spawner that migrates between nearshore nursery areas and offshore spawning grounds to which it returns within a few years of its birth. Spawning occurs throughout much of the year in inshore waters of tropical oceans. Large mature fish tend to spawn on annular calms at night.

Most eggs sink upon being spawned, but some are floating and will hatch in 2 to 5 days if they survive predation by larvae of mackerel seabreams. Fertilized eggs become buoyant after 1 to 2 days. Newly hatched larva remain near shore for 4 to 5 months before beginning their migration into the open ocean at 5 to 10 cm SL size; they then return as adults after 1 or 2 years to coastal habitats within 50 km from their birthplace.

Are Coryphaena hippurus aggressive or peaceful?

Although Coryphaena hippurus is a popular sportfish, it can also be aggressive when threatened and should not be kept with smaller, non-predatory species.

Coryphaena hippurus care

Coryphaena hippurus

Dolphin fish are hardy and tolerant of a wide range of conditions. They are usually fed pellets, wafers, thawed frozen seafood mix and live seafood. A high quality dry food is also fine to feed these carnivores on occasion. They can adapt to most water conditions and tend to be very active swimmers requiring a minimum tank size of 75 gallons with plenty of swimming room and hiding places.

The optimum temperature for dolphin fish is between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important that you keep their environment clean since they are messy eaters; you should make sure that your aquarium has ample filtration, an efficient biological filter, large enough to handle its bioload, so waste products aren’t released back into the aquarium. Be careful not to overfeed them since they will release nutrients back into your water which can cause harm to other tank mates in your aquarium system.

What do Coryphaena hippurus eat?

Coryphaena hippurus eat a variety of foods, such as crustaceans, plankton, squid and small bony fishes. They mainly feed on squid at night. This species is not a predator but rather an opportunistic feeder.

Water parameters

Coryphaena hippurus

The water temperature should be comfortable from 75° to 82°F (24 to 28°C). If your local water temperatures are much lower than 82°F, you may want to move your aquarium closer to a heat source. The pH of natural seawater is between 8.0 and 8.3, while most aquarists prefer to keep their aquarium’s pH between 8.1 and 8.4 to reduce stress on corals and other invertebrates that require more acidic conditions.

Blenny Fish Care And Species Profile

Use crushed coral or aragonite sand to buffer against rapid changes in salinity by raising specific gravity via evaporation. Large fluctuations in dissolved oxygen and salinity can stress many saltwater animals and trigger parasites which lead to bacterial infections.

Coryphaena hippurus lifespan

Coryphaena hippurus has a lifespan of up to 7 years in the wild and as many as 10 years in captivity.

Parasites and diseases

The most important diseases affecting all coryphaenids, including dolphin fish, are bacterial infections of skin and gills; protozoan infections such as Cryptocaryon and Amyloodinium; nematode infestations such as Parapharyngodon and marine isopods on gills. In addition to these external parasites, there are a number of parasitic copepods living in internal organs.


Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin fish, are eaten by sea birds, sharks, and large carnivorous fishes. They are an important food source for larger carnivorous fishes such as sharks, tuna, and sea lions. Large cetaceans sometimes eat them when they come up for air.

Do Coryphaena hippurus make good pets?

In short, no. Coryphaena hippurus are wild animals and not domesticated like other species of fish. They can become too big for your home, constantly eat your other aquarium inhabitants, grow to large sizes that may be illegal in some states, grow too fast resulting in a shortened lifespan, and they may be hard to control when they get older. It’s best to leave these magnificent creatures where they belong in their natural habitat of warm tropical waters all over the world!