Travel Wildlife

21 fish species you’ll see while diving or snorkelling in Borneo

Borneo has some of the most incredible diving and snorkelling around the world, especially in Sipadan! Wherever you go, you’re bound to bump into incredible fish species. To help you identify some of the most common ones that you’ll see while snorkelling or diving, I’ve put together this handy guide.

If you’re going to the jungle in Borneo, then check out my guide to seeing the Kota Kinabatangan Big 5 on a budget.

Always be careful when snorkelling and swimming in the sea, stay in recommended areas and don’t go alone. I also recommend bringing your own snorkel as some of the ones available to hire from budget places aren’t very good and I used one that squeezed my face! They’re sometimes cheaper to buy at home, as they cost around $20-30 to buy in Borneo or around $5 per day to hire.

Be sure to adhere to the snorkelling code of conduct in order to protect the reef, do not touch any coral or marine life, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the water and don’t take anything from the ocean, unless its trash.

Read more of my sustainable snorkelling tips and reef safe sunscreen recommendations here.

I’ve concentrated on tropical fish here, but you stand a chance of seeing turtles, dolphins and sharks as well!

*This post may contain affiliate links*

1. Moorish Idol

Moorish idol, iStock
Moorish idol, iStock

2. Needlefish

Needlefish, iStock
Needlefish, iStock

3. Titan triggerfish

Be careful of these bad boys, as they have a bite that will go through your snorkel.

Titan triggerfish, iStock
Titan triggerfish, iStock

4. Giant pufferfish

Giant pufferfish, iStock
Giant pufferfish, iStock

5. Porcupine pufferfish

Porcupine pufferfish, iStock
Porcupine pufferfish, iStock

6. Razorfish (also known as shrimpfish)

Razorfish, iStock
Razorfish, iStock

7. Coral grouper

Coral grouper, iStock
Coral grouper, iStock

8. Lionfish

Lionfish, iStock
Lionfish, iStock

9. Cornetfish

Cornetfish, iStock
Cornetfish, iStock

10. Bluestripe snapper

Bluestripe snapper, iStock
Bluestripe snapper, iStock

11. Sergeant major fish

Sergeant major fish, iStock
Sergeant major fish, iStock

12. Oriental sweetlips

Oriental sweetlips, iStock
Oriental sweetlips, iStock

13. Yellowtail fusilier

Yellowtail fusilier, iStock
Yellowtail fusilier, iStock

14. Moon wrasse

Moon wrasse, iStock
Moon wrasse, iStock

15. Orange clownfish

Orange clownfish, iStock
Orange clownfish, iStock

16. Melon butterflyfish

Melon butterflyfish, iStock
Melon butterflyfish, iStock

17. Panda or Philippine butterflyfish

Panda or Philippine butterflyfish, iStock
Panda or Philippine butterflyfish, iStock

18. Pennant coralfish or longfin bannerfish

Pennant coralfish or longfin bannerfish, iStock
Pennant coralfish or longfin bannerfish, iStock

19. Squirrelfish

Squirrelfish, iStock
Squirrelfish, iStock

20. Bicolour parrotfish

Bicolour parrotfish, iStock
Bicolour parrotfish, iStock

21. Circular spadefish (batfish)

Circular spadefish (batfish), iStock
Circular spadefish (batfish), iStock

This isn’t an exhaustive list so you’ll certainly find more as there are plenty more fish in Borneo!

I saw these fish species while I was snorkelling in the waters around Kota Kinabalu, but did you see different fish on other islands? Let me know in the comments below.



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21 fish species you’ll see while diving or snorkelling in Borneo
21 fish species you’ll see while diving or snorkelling in Borneo
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