Wahoo vs Barracuda: What Are 8 Key Differences?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: June 2, 2022
Image Credit Karelj - Public Domain
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Barracudas are large saltwater fish of the genus Sphyraena. They have elongated bodies, a protruding lower jaw, and conspicuous fang-shaped teeth with aggressive tendencies. Acanthocybium solandri, also known as the wahoo, is a tropical and subtropical game fish that looks eerily like barracuda. However, following closer study, they actually differ in numerous ways! Let’s explore.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: A Comparison 

Wahoo and barracuda have distinct lifespans.

A-Z-Animals.com

WahooBarracuda
SizeUp to 8 feet, up to 158lbs5-6 ft, up to 102lbs
ColorsSilver With Light Blue StripesBrownish Or Bluish-Gray, Green Fade To Silver, Dark Spots
Physical FeaturesNeedle-Like Teeth, Long Dorsal Fin, Long Body, Forked Tail, Long SnoutSnake-Like, Fang-Like Teeth, Huge Jaws, Pointed Skulls, Tiny Scales
DangerSharp Teeth Dangerous Even After DeathHave Been Known To Bite
DietSquid And Fish, Including Mackerel, Butterfish, And HerringFish Such As Jacks, Grunts, Groupers, Snappers, Tiny Tunas, Mullets, Killifishes
Lifespan5 to 6 years10 to 15years
HabitatsTropical And Subtropical Waters, Higher Latitudes During SummerThe Tropics, Subtropics, Shallow Waters With Submerged Coral Reefs
HabitsLives A Solitary Life, Occasionally In Pairs Or Small, Groups For FeedingCurious, Frequently Try To Steal, Hunt Primarily By Sight
Wahoo vs Baraccuda: A Comparison

Key Differences Between Wahoo and Barracuda

The primary distinction between the Barracuda and the Wahoo is that the Barracuda refers to a genus of fish while the Wahoo refers to a specific species of fish. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss eight additional important distinctions between these two categories of fish, including their physical characteristics, the environments in which they live, and the foods that they eat!

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Wahoo vs Barracuda: Size

It is possible for the Atlantic wahoo to reach a length of 8 feet and a weight of 158 pounds, while the average length is between 3 and 5 feet. A mature barracuda can reach lengths of 5 to 6 feet and weighs at least 102 pounds.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Colors

Closeup of wahoo fish skin
Wahoo fish have tiny scales, their sides are silver with blue stripes and their backs are iridescent blue.

Pictor20/Shutterstock.com

Wahoos appear practically silver and have nearly undetectable scales, yet when excited, their bodies illuminate with blue stripes. The dorsum and top sides of the large barracuda are brownish or bluish-gray, with a greenish hue that fades to silver and a white belly.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Physical Features

The wahoo’s dorsal fin is quite long. Its body is also long and streamlined; designed for speed. It has sharp, triangular teeth and a forked tail. Their jaws are large, and their noses are as long as their heads.

Like piranhas, barracuda have conspicuous, sharp-edged, fang-like teeth in the sockets of their jaws. Their gill covers are adorned with small scales, and they lack spines.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Danger

Aggressive Animal: Barracuda
Barracudas are adept hunters with few predators because of their speed and size.

aquapix/Shutterstock.com

Wahoos can cut into their prey and then swallow up the fragments thanks to their impressive teeth. They can be difficult to capture and handle as they are also exceedingly fast. Wahoos can even be dangerous after they have died if you accidentally touch their razor-sharp teeth.

Aquatic life may be endangered by some barracuda species. Swimmers have been known to be bitten by barracuda, however, this is an extremely rare occurrence, possibly due to poor visibility.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Diet

Among the fish that large barracudas consume are jacks, grunts, groupers, snapper, little tunas, mullets, killifish, herring, and anchovies. To consume large fish, barracudas have broad mouths and razor-sharp teeth.

A variety of fish including mackerel, squid, butterfish, and round herring are the primary sources of the Wahoo’s diet. Its razor-sharp teeth enable it to consume larger prey.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Lifespan

Wahoos have a 5 to 6 years life expectancy. It has been estimated that Great barracudas live for 10 to 15 years.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Habitat

A wahoo fish being caught by a fisherman
Wahoo fish lives in tropical waters worldwide.

Neophuket/Shutterstock.com

Tropics, subtropics, shallow waterways with submerged coral reefs, beaches, open seas, and mangroves are common habitats for barracuda. The great barracuda lives in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, although it’s most widespread in the western Atlantic Ocean.

Wahoos live in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. They live year-round in tropical seas but migrate to higher latitudes in summer. The Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean encircle Mexico with Wahoo-filled waters.

Wahoo vs Barracuda: Habits

Wahoos are solitary. They sometimes form pairs or small groups around food. Instead of hiding or ambushing, they actively pursue prey. Because they hunt by sight, barracudas often take fish from spear fishers or approach divers by mistake. Adult barracudas are solitary hunters, but young barracudas gather in hundreds or thousands.

Wrapping Up Wahoo vs Barracuda

Barracuda with prey
Barracudas have enormous teeth that resemble fangs.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – Public Domain

Despite their superficial similarities, barracudas and wahoo belong to two distinct fish families. To recap, the barracuda has enormous teeth that resemble fangs, but the wahoo has little teeth that resemble needles. Similarly, the wahoo’s dorsal fin is significantly longer. They also have distinct habitats, activities, and nutritional needs.

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.