Classification / Names

Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Lutjanidae (Snappers) > Lutjaninae


Size / Weight / Age

Max length: 150 cm
Common length: 80.0 cm
Max published weight: 8,700 g
Max reported age: 31 years


Reef-associated; oceanodromous; marine; freshwater; brackish; depth range 10 – 120 m

Climate / Range

Subtropical; 16°C – 30°C; 32°N – 24°S, 40°E – 180°E


Properly called dolphin or dorado, the mahi-mahi is not related to the mammal called dolphin. It is one of the most beautiful fish in the sea; brilliantly colored with an iridescent bluish green and gold body, and golden yellow fins and forked tail. The average size is 3-6 pounds but they have been known to grow as large as 5 feet and reach 70 pounds. One distinguishing characteristic between males and females is the head. The male's head is more rounded while the female's head slopes down to the mouth. One of the fastest swimming fish in the sea, they prefer the warmer tropical and subtropical waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast of Florida. Their spawning season extends from late spring through early summer. Mahi-Mahi feed offshore, near the surface on small fish, shrimp, squid and crabs and are commercially harvested by hook-and-line.


Fresh mahi-mahi is available all year round in this area but the supply is most plentiful April through August with May being the heaviest month. In Central and South America the season runs from November until March. It is available frozen all year round, sold as fillets usually with the skin left on.

Nutritional Value

A 4 -ounce portion of mahi-mahi yields approximately 100 calories, 18.5 g protein, 1 g total fat, 15 mg calcium, 1.3 g iron, 143 mg phosphorus, 416 mg potassium, 88 mg sodium, and 180 IU vitamin A.

Preparation and Use

The meat of mahi-mahi is firm and lean with large, moist flakes and has a sweet mild flavor. Some people claim it is the best eating of the fin fish. The skinned meat can be prepared in virtually any cooking method, broiling, poaching, steaming, baking or frying. When grilling, the skin should be left on to keep the fish intact. Care should be taken to avoid overcooking.


Indo-West Pacific: East Africa to Samoa and the Line Islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to Australia. Has dispersed into the eastern Mediterranean (off Lebanon) via the Suez Canal but not well established there.