Iron (Fe) is an essential trace element for marine fish. However, our knowledge of Fe requirements at different development stages of marine fish is still limited. Here, we reported the efficient Fe absorption strategies adopted by larval fish under different dietary Fe supplementary levels (i.e., 0-640 mg/kg). Biokinetically, the larval fish controlled their dietary Fe assimilation efficiency (AE, 1.6-18.5%), and enhanced their waterborne Fe uptake (ca. 2.5 fold change of uptake rate constant) once the dietary Fe was deficient (i.e., 27.4 mg Fe/kg feed). Transcriptionally, the expression of hepcidin1 (hep1; Fe regulator; i.e., 2.3-15.7 fold change) in larval fish was positively correlated with the Fe supplementary levels. Comparatively, the female adult fish were poor in assimilating the added Fe source (i.e., ferric form) with similar life-sustainable levels of Fe (i.e., 0.046-0.12 μg/g/d assimilated for Fe supplementary levels of 27.4, 162 and 657 mg Fe/kg feed). The overall feeding experiments suggested that dietary net Fe flux sufficient for the normal growth of larval medaka was 0.71-1.75 μg/g/d (i.e., 83.9 mg Fe/kg feed), consistent with the modeled value (i.e., 1.09-2.16 μg/g/d). In female adults, the estimated essential net Fe flux was 0.88-0.90 μg/g/d.