15 Different Types of Tuna – Complete Guide 2021

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types of tuna

We’ve been told for years that fish is healthy, but just which species of fish should we eat?

It turns out, tuna is an excellent fish that has many health benefits. It is also versatile, as you can eat it raw, cooked, and even canned.

How many types of tuna are there?

There are 15 species of tuna, although within these there are more sub-species.

15 Different Types of Tuna

different types of tuna

Longtail tuna

Also known as Northern bluefin tuna, longtail tuna is a slimmer species. It also has shorter fins than other tuna and so is quite distinguishable.

Longtail tuna can be found in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It is medium in size, measuring 4 feet long and weighing 80 pounds.

Unfortunately, longtail tuna are at risk of being overfished. This is because they grow slower and live longer, and so don’t have the reproductive turnover that other types of tuna have.

Blackfin tuna

While some tuna are enormous, others, like the blackfin tuna, is much smaller. In fact, these little guys only grow to be 3 feet long and weigh just 45 pounds.

Blackfin tuna live in the Atlantic Ocean, but can be found as far north as New York and as far south as Brazil.

It can take a bit of effort to properly catch a blackfin tuna. While you can use live or artificial bait, they will put up a fight.

However, once reeled in, blackfin tuna make a delicious meal and a whole fish can feed quite a few people.

Pacific bluefin tuna

The king of tuna, Pacific bluefin tuna is a massive fish. In fact, it can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 1000 pounds.

While there are many types of tuna, as we will see in this article, when most people think of tuna, this is the species that comes to mind.

There are many interesting tidbits about Pacific bluefin tuna. They are a pelagic fish, which means that instead of swimming near the bottom of the ocean floor or by the shore, they instead swim in the open water.

Pacific bluefin tuna are prized for their delicious taste and are a staple with sashimi. In fact, the market is so high for them in Japan that they are often bid on at exorbitant prices.

Skipjack tuna

Fish are funny creatures and the skipjack tuna is no exception. It has its name because it likes to skip and jump while swimming through the ocean.

Other characteristics of skipjack tuna include dark lines on their bellies. They are small in size, and grow to be 3 feet in length and about 60 pounds in weight.

You can find skipjack tuna in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. While you can eat skipjack tuna whole, it is often canned instead. If you see a can of tuna labeled “chunk light tuna” then it usually contains skipjack tuna.

Yellowfin tuna

Sometimes names just make sense, as is the case with yellowfin tuna. It has distinguishable yellow fins.

Yellowfin tuna can be found in the Atlantic Ocean but are more populous in the Pacific Ocean. They especially thrive in warmer waters around the Philippines and Thailand and can grow to be 6 feet long and 200 pounds in weight.

In combination with bigeye tuna, they are known as ahi. If you order a poke bowl or sushi roll, it will likely have ahi tuna in it.

You can also enjoy yellowfin tuna on its own, as it grills and sears nicely.

Little tunny

Another name for little tunny tuna is false albacore as they share similar physical characteristics. However, this is a small fish that is only about 2 feet in size and 30 pounds in weight.

Little tunny can be found in both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. While you can eat little tunny, because of their size they are often used as bait for larger tuna fish.

Albacore tuna

Albacore tuna live in the Pacific Ocean and can be found from California to British Columbia. They have long pectoral fins, which distinguishes them from other species of tuna.

While albacore tuna can be caught with live bait, they are also trolled with artificial lures.

If you’re familiar with the term, “chicken of the sea” this is the species of tuna it is referring to. The meat of albacore tuna is white-colored, and when you purchase canned tuna in a grocery store, this is often the type of fish you will find.  

Bullet tuna

Small and slender in size, bullet tuna is usually found in the Mediterranean Sea and warmer parts of the Pacific Ocean. It is blue-black in color and has interesting dark markings on its body.

Bullet tuna only grow to be 20 inches long and don’t weigh very much. It is regularly eaten and can often be found in fish markets at an affordable price.

Mackerel tuna

Not to be confused with the different fish species, mackerel, mackerel tuna is actually different. They are small in size but fight really hard when caught on a line.

Because there is not much meat on mackerel tuna, they are often used as bait for larger fish.

Slender tuna

Found in the Southern Hemisphere, slender tuna are indeed quite slender. They have a long, thin body with one side being blue-black and the other size silvery and grey in color.

Slender tuna are small in size, measuring 3 feet in length and 25 pounds in size on average. They are not usually fished but when caught, their meat, which is quite oily, is often used for canned tuna.

Black skipjack tuna

Unlike traditional skipjack tuna, black skipjack tuna is a very bony fish. In fact, unlike other fish, whose skeleton is made from softer cartilage, this species actually has bone for their skeleton.

While you may encounter black skipjack tuna on your fishing adventures, it is not a fish that most people eat. There just isn’t enough meat on it to warrant all the effort.

You also won’t find black skipjack tuna at a fish market.

Bigeye tuna

Popular in the Western Pacific Ocean, bigeye tuna are a close cousin to yellowfin tuna and are often confused with each other. In fact, both these species are classified as ahi tuna.

Bigeye tuna actually have larger eyes than other tuna, especially yellowfin, which is how they received their name.

While not as large as some of the massive species of tuna, bigeye tuna can still be quite impressive. They can be 7 feet long and sometimes weigh over 400 pounds.

Southern bluefin tuna

Like all bluefin tuna species, the Southern bluefin tuna is a heavily prized fish. It is targeted for its size and taste, and as a result its population has dramatically declined in the past decades.

The overfishing of Southern bluefin tuna is linked to technological advances in the fishing industry, including satellite imagery and GPS. The result is that there are now strict restrictions on how many pounds of fish each country is able to catch.

Southern bluefin tuna are large, though not as big as other bluefin species. They can be up to 600 pounds in size and 8 feet in length. You can find Southern bluefin tuna in the Southern Hemisphere.

Atlantic bluefin tuna

Similar to other bluefin species, the Atlantic bluefin tuna is a very large fish. It can grow above 1000 pounds and is prized for its meat.

This species is so prized that is has become a very lucrative business for fisheries. In particular, the Japanese raw-fish market regularly bids for these enormous fish. Sushi and sashimi dishes will often include Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Unfortunately, what sets Atlantic bluefin tuna apart from other species has led to its downfall.

It is on its way to being overfished and there are now many regulations about how it is caught, although some scientists believe further action needs to be taken to preserve this species.

Frigate tuna

Frigate tuna are quite small in size, and usually only grow to be 25 inches in length and weigh 3 to 4 pounds.

You will find frigate tuna in many oceans around the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans because they are a highly migratory species, and therefore are always on the move.

What kind of tuna is canned tuna?

canned tuna

Most canned tuna is albacore tuna. It has a white color to its meat and has a nice, soft flavor to it.

What type of tuna is best?

Bluefin tuna is often regarded as the best type of tuna. This includes both Atlantic and Pacific bluefin. The taste of this tuna is superb because the fat and the protein elements are extremely balanced.

Which type of tuna is most expensive?

Knowing that bluefin tuna is deemed the best, it should come as no shock that it is also the most expensive. On average, a 1000-pound bluefin tuna can cost as much as $10,000.

Conclusion

Whether you want to eat canned tuna or fresh tuna sashimi, there is a variety available. Tuna is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, meaning you should try to add more of it into your diet.  

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