The activity of two scavenging deep–sea fishes occupying the same niche in overlapping depth zones were compared by in situ measurements of swimming speeds, tail–beat frequencies and by arrival time at baits. At 4800 m on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain, the grenadier Coryphaenoides (Nematonurus) armatus was the dominant scavenger, arriving at baits after 30 min, and swimming at relatively slow speeds of 0.17 body lengths (BL) sec-1. At 2500 m in the relatively food rich Porcupine Seabight both C. (N.) armatus and the blue–hake, Antimora rostrata, were attracted to bait, but A. rostrata was always the first to arrive and most of the bait was consumed before the C. (N.) armatus arrived. A. rostrata swam at mean speeds of 0.39 BL sec−1, similar to related shallow water species at equivalent temperatures. Observations on tail–beat frequency from video sequences confirmed the greater activity of A. rostrata. The data indicate that, given sufficient food supply, high pressure and low temperature do not limit activity levels of demersal deep–sea fishes. Low activity of C. (N.) armatus is an adaptation to poor food supply in the abyss, where these fishes dominate, but prevents it competing with the more active A. rostrata in shallower depths.