Explore 12 Fish That Start with D (Common Names)

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: November 7, 2023
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Common fish species that start with the letter D include Dab Fish, Dace Fish, Damselfish, Danio, Dartfish, Darter, Discus, Dogfish, Dolphin fish, Dragonet, Drum Fish, and Driftwood Catfish.

The aquatic environment is home to a staggering number of species and offers countless opportunities for exploration and learning. Here, we’ll zero in on 12 unique fish species that start with “D.” These fish reside in water bodies all throughout the world.

Let’s dive in and learn what makes each of these fish special in their own way!

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12 Fish That Start With a D
This diverse grouping of fish has one thing in common – names that start with a D.

It’s important to keep in mind that the examples of fish that start with the letter “D” mentioned below are just a mere fraction of the total number of species available. It’s also worth noting that different sources may have varying lists of fish depending on how they classify and define different types of species.

1. Dab Fish

Closeup shot of a common dab fish with the ocean in the background

The dab fish is a type of flatfish that is native to Northern Europe and North America.

©Wirestock/ via Getty Images

The dab fish, also referred to as the American dab or the common dab is a type of flatfish that is native to Northern Europe and North America. It belongs to the family Pleuronectidae and is a demersal fish. Typically, it’s light brown in color with or without spots and measures less than 25 cm in length. The dab fish is a popular food fish and is edible. Sand dabs, which are a type of dab fish, have a sweet flavor. Chefs can cook them in various ways.

Interestingly, the dab fish is highly regarded as a very responsible fish in the popular simulation game Animal Crossing. While it’s sluggish in comparison to its relatives, American dabs are less responsive to baited hooks than other types of flounders.

2. Dace Fish

Common dace

The common dace fish is indigenous to Europe.

©Ohotnik/ via Getty Images

The dace fish is a small, slim, and active freshwater fish that is part of the Cyprinidae family. It swims in various rivers and streams across North America and Europe and is a popular gamefish for recreational fishing. This fish responds to different types of bait, like wheat, bread, hemp, and insects. The common dace, also known as Leuciscus leuciscus, is a well-known type of dace that is indigenous to Europe, while the blacknose dace, or Rhinichthys atratulus, is another species of dace that is native to North America.

One distinct feature of the blacknose dace is its black lateral band that stretches from its slightly pointed snout to the base of its tail. It’s worth noting that some species of dace, such as the northern redbelly dace, are currently threatened or endangered, particularly in wetlands located along the Front Range.

3. Damselfish

Sapphire devil, Blue Devil Damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea).

These fish are aggressive and territorial.

©Podolnaya Elena/Shutterstock.com

Damselfish is a type of small, colorful fish that is common in various aquatic habitats. They are often less than 15 cm (6 inches) long and have bright coloration, which can include blue, red, orange, and yellow, among other shades. These fish are quite aggressive and territorial, sometimes even scaring off cleaner fish. However, some species, like the Azure damselfish, are popular aquarium fish and can learn tricks due to their excellent color vision. Scientists have studied the behavior of damselfish to gain insight into their role in aquatic ecosystems, particularly in coral reefs.

4. Danio

A macro shot of a zebra danio tropical fish.

This macro shot of a zebra danio tropical fish reveals its beautiful colors.

©Ian Grainger/Shutterstock.com

Danio fish are a resilient and active species belonging to the carp family, Cyprinidae. They are typically slender and come in various shades, from silver to bright colors like blue or orange. Common types of danio include zebrafish and the dangila fish. Danio fish are popular among aquarium enthusiasts due to their ease of care and ability to thrive in groups of at least five, as they are a schooling species. They breed prolifically, so it’s important to consider the tank size and filtration when planning their care. Zebrafish, a type of danio, are also used as model organisms in scientific research due to their genetic makeup and simple breeding process.

5. Dartfish

Fire Dartfish hovers over Maldives coral reef

The Fire Dartfish belongs to the


family of saltwater fish.

©JerryLudwig/ via Getty Images

Dartfish refers to a group of small and brightly colored fish that are part of the Microdesmidae family, related to gobies, commonly found in saltwater environments, including shallow reefs and deeper waters. Examples of dartfish species are the lavender-blushed, fire, and purple dartfish. These fish are typically non-aggressive and make good aquarium pets with proper care. They play an important role in the marine ecosystem by contributing to the food chain and enhancing coral reef biodiversity.

6. Darter

Rainbow darter, Etheostoma caeruleum

Rainbow darter fish inhabit North and Central America and are essential to the aquatic food chain.

©Jeff Finley, USFWS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

There are a variety of darter fish species that fall within the Etheostomatinae subfamily of the Percidae family and live in freshwater. These fish are usually small and slender with distinguishing coloration and patterns. They inhabit North and Central America and are essential to the aquatic food chain.

Noteworthy species are the rainbow darter, candy darter, and longhead darter. While they can be maintained in aquariums, their sensitivity to water conditions and modifications to their surroundings make natural habitats the optimal choice for their welfare.

7. Discus

Red Turquoise Discus Fish

Since discus fish are sensitive, it is best to keep them in groups and maintain constant water conditions.

©PAUL ATKINSON/Shutterstock.com

Discus fish are a type of cichlid that is tropical and vibrantly colored, native to the Amazon River basin of South America. These fish have a unique, large, circular body shape and boast striking colors. They are often referred to as the “King of the freshwater aquarium” because of their splendor and royal colors. Since discus fish are sensitive, it is best to keep them in groups and maintain constant water conditions. While challenging, the art of keeping discus fish is an equally gratifying experience.

8. Dogfish

Spiny dogfish shark Deep - 15 meters Japan sea Russia

One of the most typical species of dogfish is the

spiny dogfish

, also recognized as the spurdog.

©Boris Pamikov/Shutterstock.com

Dogfish are a type of small shark that lives near the bottom of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are a very adaptable species and can be found near coastal and offshore waters, in depths of up to 3,000 feet (914 meters). These sharks prefer cooler water between 6-11 degrees Celsius (43-52 degrees Fahrenheit) and are known for traveling long distances.

One of the most typical species of dogfish is the spiny dogfish, also recognized as the spurdog or piked dogfish, which belongs to the Squalidae family. Others include the smooth dogfish and Harrison’s dogfish. As predators of bottom-dwelling species such as clams, shrimp, and crabs, they play a significant role in the ocean ecosystem. Dogfish are captured for commercial purposes and are a source of meat and oil.

9. Dolphin fish

Mahi mahi or dolphinfish

The mahi-mahi is an aquatic vertebrate that belongs to the ray-finned fish family.


The “dolphin fish” common name refers to the “mahi-mahi” species found in tropical and subtropical waters. It is sometimes known as the “common dolphinfish,” despite having little resemblance to dolphins. The mahi-mahi is an aquatic vertebrate that belongs to the ray-finned fish family. Its flesh has a reputation for being delicious, and it is known to contain vivid, one-of-a-kind colors (often characterized as electrifying blues and greens). Many people like fishing for them as a hobby, and occasionally commercial businesses will buy them to sell their meat.

10. Dragonet


The Mandarinfish or Mandarin dragonets are bottom dwellers.


The western Indo-Pacific is a common habitat for dragonet fish, a kind of saltwater fish. They belong to the family Callionymidae and are well-known for their vivid look and lively movements. They enjoy eating some species of copepods as part of their carnivorous diets. Dragonet fish, like gobies, are bottom dwellers despite their tiny size. These fish are unique in appearance, which is why they are so popular with those who keep aquariums at home despite the difficulty of feeding them.

11. Drum Fish

Spotted drum fish or spotted ribbonfish (Equetus punctatus) Bonaire, Leeward Islands

The freshwater drum is native to North and Central America.

©Jesus Cobaleda/Shutterstock.com

The drum fish is a name that refers to different species of fish. Two of the most common ones are the freshwater drum and the red drum. The freshwater drum is native to North and Central America and can be recognized by its two dorsal fins and round tail. On the other hand, the red drum, which is also known as redfish, is a very popular game fish in Florida, prized for its fight and flavor. Fishermen often refer to them as drums due to the drumming sound they make when they’re caught.

12. Driftwood Catfish

Argentine driftwood


are small, relatively unknown fish.


Driftwood catfish are a group of catfish species that belong to the Auchenipteridae family. What makes them unique is their small size, flattened heads and bodies, and bulging throats that make them resemble pieces of driftwood, hence the name. You can find them in different places like the Amazon basin and the Colombian Rio Sucio. Unfortunately, they’re often overlooked as an underappreciated South American oddball fish known for their distinct appearances.

Some examples of driftwood catfish species are Trachelyopterus fisheri, Trachelyopterus galeatus, and Trachycorystes trachycorystes. If you’re curious about their diet, habitat, and size, you can find more information in various sources, such as Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, Aqua Imports, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Summary of 12 Fish That Start with D

1Dab FishFreshwaterNorthern Europe, North America
2Dace FishFreshwaterNorthern Europe, North America
3DamselfishSaltwaterOceans (coral reefs)
4DanioSaltwaterOceans (coral reefs)
5DartfishSaltwaterOceans (coral reefs)
6DarterFreshwaterNorth and Central America
7DiscusFreshwaterAmazon River Basin
8DogfishSaltwaterAtlantic and Pacific Oceans
9Dolphin fishSaltwaterTropical and sub-tropical waters
10DragonetSaltwaterWestern Indo-Pacific
11Drum FishSaltwater and FreshwaterNorth and Central America
12Driftwood CatfishFreshwaterAmazon River Basin

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Usha Roy/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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