What Do Tuna Fish Eat? Food List | Diet | Eating Habits

The tuna fish is an adaptable type of eater and feeds on anything to be found around. They are successful predators that foresight their prey and know best to use their eyes while chasing and capturing their prey for eating.

Tuna fish are opportunistic in eating, but they prioritize the food. The most common tuna fish foods are whitebait, smoked herrings, some crabs, squids, shrimps, mollusks, cuttlefish, fishes of deep dark waters, and jellyfish.

Their conquests in the deep and shallow waters and a wide variety of prey make them one of the successful marine ecosystem’s successful predators.

What Do Tuna Eat in the Ocean?

Tuna is also considered to be one of the opportunistic and unprincipled eaters in the sea waters.

What  Do Tuna fish Eat
What Do Tuna Eat?

Being opportunistic in eating means tuna can eat anything that they think they can easily consume. Whatever they find in their surroundings, some tuna species are known for their appetite and long journeys searching for food.

If you look at the tuna fish eating preferences, their diet varies from region to region. Most of the fish species that tuna fish preys on travel in assemblages or schools. Being large-sized fish, the small fish species make up a huge portion of tuna fish’s diet.

Most of the fishes that tuna usually prey on range from 1.5 to 6 inches in size and travel in groups. Some examples of fish that makeup tuna fish food are different species of the siganidae family, flying fish, also known as gliding fish.

Venomous types of fish such as surgeonfish, different pelagic and mesopelagic fish, balloonfish, toadfish, and two-spined triggerfish are tuna foods. Bluefin tuna fish grows up to the maximum size that any tuna fish can ever grow.

It can weigh up to 800 kilograms and can be 14 feet long. This huge hunger pushes it to travel all across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico to the coasts of Europe and Atlantic Africa in search of food.

Best Foods for Baby Tuna Fish

Surprisingly, even such a large and gigantic predatory species has to go through a tiny larva stage a few centimeters long and weigh in at a few milligrams.

They reach the age of sexual maturity within an average of 4 years of age. At this point, they can be as long as a five-year-old human child and can reproduce.

Since the tuna fishes go through such complex and unbelievable Physical and morphological changes over time, their diet varies greatly at different times of their lives.

At a very young age, baby tuna fish feed on zooplankton or heterotrophic plankton, small shrimps, and other small meaty diets that float around in the oceans.

The diet for baby tuna changes with their size and age. One thing which is common in all stages of their lives is that they are purely meat-eaters.

Being young and small, they feed on small meaty marine creatures, and when they grow up, they are one of the mightiest predators that rule all of the tropical Atlantic waters.

What Do Bluefin Tuna Eat?

Bluefin tuna is a giant quick, and aggressive eater that can weigh up to 800 kilograms and grow up to 14 feet. With tremendous size and combativeness, bluefin tuna feed on a wide range of prey and travel immense distances across the Atlantic ocean.

The adult Bluefin tuna fish is highly migratory, making long and immensely distanced migrations every year.

Different researches made on the feeding behavior of tuna fish reveal some interesting facts about bluefin tuna. Bluefin has a huge eating capacity. Their quick and hostile nature makes them quick eaters as well.

Bluefin tuna need to eat the food in immense quantities. In the western Atlantic, baits, and menhaden belonging to the herring’s family are the Bluefin tuna fish’s usual prey. In the North Atlantic, it largely feeds on several species of sand eels.

Other common preys of the Bluefin tuna fish comprise whitebait, fishes belonging to herring’s family, Atlantic sanddabs, small forage fish like anchovies, some crabs, squids, shrimps, gliding fish, and the surfperches belonging to the family of perciform fishes.

The amount of food and the size of the prey that the Bluefin tuna feeds on have a straight concurrence with its size and age. Bluefin tuna fish is a time-specific hunter. It usually hunts when the early morning sun’s rays sneak peek with the ocean’s tides, midday, and dusk.

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What Do Yellowfin Tuna Fish Eat?

Yellowfin tuna fish or commonly known as ahi fish swims in the pelagic zones of the tropical and subtropical waters all over the planet’s oceans.

what do yellowfin tuna eat, foods for yellowfin tuna

Their prey also varies as their size varies. Normally they grow about 40 centimeters and weigh about 20 kilograms, but the large-sized yellowfin tuna can weigh up to 175 kilograms reaching a length of more than 180 centimeters.

Yellowfin tuna fish preys on other fish species, especially schooling fishes, flying fish, squids, and many marine crustaceans such as crayfish, lobsters, and mollusks.

Their streamlined bodies have added a lot more agility and momentum, permitting them to seize even speedy swift preys like saury fish, swift flying fish, baitfish, and most of the fish belonging to the family Scombridae known as mackerel.

Being warm-blooded has given them an edge over other big predatory fishes, and that is the ability to gain enormous speed and cover huge distances in search of food.

Large-size yellowfin tuna fish can even feed on little members of the tuna fish family.

The other common foods of the yellowfin tuna fish are slender-bodied bottom-dwelling driftfish, light-producing Symbolophorus Bernardi commonly known as lantern fish belonging to the Myctophid family, small anchovies, and other small fishes belonging to herring’s family such as sardine or pilchard fish.

Tuna Fish Food List

Many tuna fish species have been found, but 4 of them got a special distinction, and these are the big aggressive Bluefin tuna fish, the speedy and swift Yellowfin tuna fish, the Bigeye tuna fish, and the albacore tuna fish.

The eating habits and hunting patterns of tuna fish vary widely based on their size, age, and what tuna group they belong to. Here is the list of food given below that different species of tuna fish feed on.

Foods for Bluefin Tuna Fish

  • Baitfish
  • Manhaden
  • Different fish belonging to herring species
  • Sand eels
  • Atlantic sanddabs
  • Small forage like anchovies
  • Crabs
  • Squids
  • Shrimps
  • Flyingfish
  • Surfperches  and other perciform fishes
  • Different shoaling and Schooling fishes

Yellowfin Tuna Fish Food

  • Anchovies
  • Flyingfish
  • Squids
  • Crustaceans such as crayfish lobsters
  • Mollusks
  • Saury fish
  • Crabs
  • Flyingfish
  • Baitfish
  • Driftfish
  • Myctophids
  • Sardine fish

Foods for Bigeye Tuna Fish

  • Encephalopods
  • Crustaceans
  • Mollusks
  • Lobsters
  • Crawfish
  • Shellfish
  • Squids

Epipelagic Fish Foods

  • Some herring species
  • Anchovies
  • Scad
  • Sardines
  • Small mackerels
  • Scad fish

Foods for Mesopelagic Fishes

  • Lanternfish
  • Bristle mouths
  • Hatchet fish

Albacore Tuna fish Foods

  • Pelagic fishes
  • Crustaceans
  • Cephalopods

From their overall swiftness and immense size to survive in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters, many things have made them one of the successful predators and a key component in the maintenance of the marine food web.

What Animals Do Tuna Eat?

The tuna fish is known to be one of the terrifying predators in marine waters. They are horrifying predators. They ambush and stealth on their prey.

In the wild, Tuna feed on almost every living animal compatible with their eating size. Their wide distribution over different regions in the world’s marine waters with a lot of diversity in the food available makes them diverse eaters.

The animals that tuna fish eat in the wild, include crustaceans like mollusks, lobsters, crawfish, squids, crayfish, and shellfish, Epipelagic fishes like a few herring species, scads, sardines, anchovies, and mackerels, Mesopelagic fishes like lantern fish, hatchet fish, bristle mouth fish, crabs, manhadens, flying fish, baitfish, surfperches and different kinds of schooling fishes.

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They are obligate carnivorous, though some species do feed on grassy foods occasionally. Some tuna fish species are gigantic, like Bluefin tuna, big size and ability to travel immense distances searching for prey make them terrific predators.

How Often Do Tuna Fish Eat?

Tuna fish eats whenever it finds a chance to eat. Tuna fish are known for their appetite. They eat almost all the time and cover huge distances just for eating.

Because some tuna species are covering large distances, they need their tank full of fuel. So, we can say that they travel for eating and they eat a lot for traveling.

Bluefin tuna, the largest predator tuna species, has a biological clock fixed in the wild for eating. It has time stimulated pattern of eating. It goes hunting at dawn, midday, and dusk.

Given the speed, flexibility, and agility, tuna fish needs a high amount of energy. The energy needs to meet the high metabolism rate are fulfilled by quick and timely hunting.

Do Tuna Fish Eat Humans?

Among all other tuna species, the Bluefin tuna is the largest and most aggressive one. The Bluefin tuna sits very high on the top of the food pyramid in marine waters.

Blufin tuna are ravenous and aggressive predators, but it is very unlikely that they will eat humans. The tuna fish attack predators and they trail down the schooling or shoaling species of many small fish and squids, etc.

If you search for tuna fish images, you would see that tuna fish have a small rounded mouth that is not adapted for tearing down their prey.

The tuna fish does not eat like a shark. The shark is known for tearing its prey which makes it one of the biggest threats to humans.

We have already gone through a list of food that tuna fish mainly eat, and it mainly includes small shoaling fishes, Squids, crustaceans, and anchovies.

Moreover, tuna fish are afraid of humans. They are defensive to humans, but recently the human presence and their fishing activities in the oceans have made the tuna fish pretty brave. On interaction with humans, they prefer to swim away than to attack.

Do Tune Eat Squids?

Tuna fish eat squid and squids are one of the common foods for tuna. In squids, bobtail squids are one of the favorite foods of tuna that they prey on. Bluefin tuna get easily attracted to the squids to fulfill their hunger requirements.

What do tuna prey on?

Most of the fishes that tuna usually prey on range from 1.5 to 6 inches in size and travel in groups. Some examples of fish that make up the food of tuna fish are different species of the siganidae family, flying fish, also known as gliding fish.

Do tuna eat dolphins?

No, there is no evidence or any research found yet that we can say tuna eat dolphins. Tuna fish usually prey on small fishes, and dolphins are not small fish.


Tuna fish swim throughout the world’s marine waters. They are mainly tropical, but some of the species are temperate as well.

Different types of Tuna fish have similar eating habits and eat similar foods, as briefly mentioned above.

The size of tuna fish ranges from one and a half feet up to a maximum of 15 feet for some Bluefin species, and their priority to prey varies accordingly to their size.

Many tuna species have been found, but four species are most distinct and more common than others.

These are Yellowfin Tuna fish, Bluefin Tuna fish, Bigeye Tuna, and Albacore Tuna. All these types of Tuna Fish are very active when it comes to eating habits.

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