10 most unusual fish in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Pisces are animals that almost everyone has dealt with. No one will be surprised by the sight of river perch or salmon, we have all seen aquarium fish, among which there are also exotic species. However, both the depths of the sea and the waters of rivers and lakes around the world contain such inhabitants that are quite capable of surprising, delighting or horrifying the one who sees them for the first time. About them – the most unusual fish on our planet – and will be discussed in this article.

Rating of the most unusual fish in the world

Nomination a place name rating
Rating of the most unusual fish in the world 1 Coelacanth (Latimeria) 5.0
2 Deciduous sea dragon (Phycodurus eques) 4.9
3 Scorpion Ambon (Pteroidichthys amboinensis ) 4.8
4 Pelican fish (Eurypharynx pelecanoides) 4.7
5 Psychedelic frog fish (Histiophryne psychedelica) 4.6
6 Drop fish (Psychrolutes marcidus) 4.5
7 Smallmouth Macropinna (Macropinna microstoma ) 4.4
8 Sackcap fish (Chiasmodon niger ) 4.3
9 Butterfly fish (Pantodon buchholzi) 4.2
10 Goliath fish (Hydrocynus goliath) 4.1

1st place: Latimeria

Rating: 5.0

Coelacanth (Latimeria)

The rating is opened by the only representative of the cross-finned fish that has not become extinct today – coelacanth, or coelacanth. Its main distinguishing feature is its muscular fins, similar to the paws of a land animal. They allow coelacanth to crawl on the ground. Scientists believe that it was her ancestors, who have the same limbs and are capable of air breathing, who at one time made it to land and gave rise to terrestrial vertebrates.

The unique fin structure is not the only feature that the coelacanth can boast. The coelacanth scales are also unusual, having no analogues in other modern fish. It covers the body with a triple layer of “armor”, its surface resembles emery and can be used as such. Tough scales allow celacanthus to live among reefs and crawl over sharp rocks.

The jaw is armed with powerful teeth – the coelacanth is a predator that waits for its prey in a shelter, and then quickly catches up and grabs it with a quick throw. The coelacanth itself has no natural enemies – not a single fish can cope with it and bite through its “shell”. It is not of food interest for humans either – the meat tastes unpleasant and is almost inedible.

There are two types of coelacanth – Indonesian and Comorian. They live off the coast of the Indonesian and Comoros, respectively. Despite its antiquity and primitive structure, coelacanth is well adapted to life in the seas even now. Only people who catch outlandish fish for their collections can pose a threat to it.

2nd place: Deciduous sea dragon (Phycodurus eques)

Rating: 4.9

Deciduous sea dragon (Phycodurus eques)

The deciduous dragon, or the rag-picker seahorse, looks very little like a fish and looks more like an aquatic plant. This appearance is given to it by the leafy processes covering the whole body. They do not participate in the movement of the fish and are only needed for camouflage. You can find this species only off the coast of Australia.

The rag-pick is small in size – even with the “leaves” its length does not exceed 40 cm. He has no means of protection from natural enemies and the ability to swim quickly, so the dragon relies only on camouflage. In addition to the structure of the body, color is of patronizing importance, which can vary depending on the situation. The dragon itself is also a predator, sucking in small fish and shrimps with its toothless mouth, and without fish it can do with algae.

Getting an unusual “seaweed” is the dream of many collectors. There are other threats to the species: dragons are very sensitive to water pollution, and also often die in a storm that throws them ashore. To prevent the complete disappearance of the rag picker, the Australian government took measures to protect it.

3rd place: Scorpena Ambona (Pteroidichthys amboinensis)

Rating: 4.8

Pteroidichthys amboinensis

A very strange and dangerous fish lives at the bottom of the coastal zone of the Pacific and Indian Ocean. The main distinguishing feature of Ambon's scorpion is “eyebrows”, huge spiny growths over the eyes. They are able to move and change their shape, rising vertically or forming arcs. The whole body of the fish is covered with poisonous thorns, one prick of which can kill a person.

The scorpionfish is a predator that feeds on other fish as well as crustaceans and molluscs. It is able to change color, merging with the bottom surface. Potential prey, not noticing the threat, swims close enough so that the scorpionfish can grab it with a sharp movement. This fish is reliably protected from being eaten by larger marine life by its poisonous cover.

Scorpena Ambona is not a threatened species. It is quite widespread and is of interest not only to collectors, but also to gourmets. Before cooking, the fish is removed from the tough, poisonous skin. The meat is red in color.

4th place: Pelican fish (Eurypharynx pelecanoides)

Rating: 4.7

Pelican fish (Eurypharynx pelecanoides)

The pelican bigmouth, or pelican fish, is an inhabitant of the great depths of the oceans of the temperate and tropical zones. It is distinguished by the shape of the mouth and a leathery sac in the lower part of it, in which it collects prey. Largemouth has no scales and has black skin that camouflages it in the dark of deep waters.

Bigmouth food is fish, crustaceans and squid. Their predator collects them in an oral sac, and then filters them out of water and swallows them. It is believed that the pelican fish lures prey with the help of a luminous branch on the tail – a photophore, but no one has yet observed the process itself. The bag can swell to a size several times larger than the volume of the bigmouth's body.

The habits and lifestyle of the pelican fish are rather poorly studied, as are the depths of the sea where it lives. It is assumed that the bigmouth reproduces only once in a lifetime – before that, the males gradually lose the ability to eat large amounts of food, their mouth and stomach are reduced. No obvious signs of maturity were found in females.

5th place: Psychedelic frog fish (Histiophryne psychedelica)

Rating: 4.6

Psychedelic frog fish (Histiophryne psychedelica)

This unusual fish got its name from the way of movement that resembles frog jumping. In fact, this is a jet movement: water is collected in the mouth, which is then pushed out with force through the gills. In addition, the fish is able to “walk” along the bottom with the help of the pectoral fins.

The skin of the fish is also similar to that of a frog: there are no scales on it, and a layer of mucus protects from damage from pitfalls. Coloring is individual for each individual and includes white, yellow and brown spots. This set of colors allows the fish to hide among the corals. The eyes are very small, but appear noticeably larger due to the blue border. They are located frontally, like in humans – this allows you to determine the range of surrounding objects, which helps when hunting.

Although the frog fish belongs to the angler family, it does not have “fishing rods” to lure prey. Instead, it hides in corals, waiting for its prey, and then overtakes it in one “jump”. Its high speed also helps it to flee from any predators that manage to find fish despite the patronizing coloration.

6th place: Drop Fish (Psychrolutes marcidus)

Rating: 4.5

Drop fish (Psychrolutes marcidus)

Not everyone believes in the existence of this fish, considering it invented as a joke. But such a species does exist, inhabiting deep waters off the coast of Tasmania and Australia. It has a characteristic appearance due to the lack of powerful muscles, which is replaced by a jelly-like mass with a low specific gravity, which keeps the fish afloat. She does not have a swim bladder, because at such depths (600-1200 meters) it does not work under high water pressure.

The drop feeds on small invertebrates, which it catches with its large mouth open. It can either hang motionless in the water, waiting for the prey to swim up to it, or move slowly in search of it. The fish are characterized by caring for the offspring: after spawning, the drop “incubates” the eggs, and then takes care of the fry.

The drop is eaten. In Asia, this fish is considered a delicacy, but in Europe, people are not particularly eager to try it. In this case, the main threat to the species is not targeted fishing, but the capture of crabs and lobsters with the help of nets, into which “drops” often accidentally fall. Since the fish has become an internet meme, many people are aware that it is in danger of extinction and are calling for measures to protect it.

7th place: Smallmouth Macropinna (Macropinna microstoma)

Rating: 4.4

Macropinna microstoma

Smallmouth Macropinna, also called barrel-eye, lives in the North Pacific Ocean, at depths of 500-800 meters. The non-standard appearance of the fish is given by a transparent head. Cylindrical eyes look through it, their gaze is directed upward. They are colored green in living macropyne. The color is imparted by a special pigment that reduces the brightness of light from the surface, which helps the barrel-eye to notice the bioluminescence of a possible prey.

The barrel-eye feeds on zooplankton. The eyes are able to rotate to track prey, changing the direction of sight. Paired olfactory rosettes located frontally in the head also help in searching for it – it is they who in underwater photographs seem to be the “eyes” of a fish. When they hit the network and when the pressure drops when climbing upward, these organs are deformed, so it was not possible to study the structure of the macropinna head for quite a long time. This happened only when they went down to fish in its natural habitat.

8th place: Sackcap fish (Chiasmodon niger)

Rating: 4.3

Chiasmodon niger

Sackcap, which is also called the “black devourer”, is known for its ability to swallow fish several times larger than itself. This is possible thanks to the extremely elastic stomach it possesses and the absence of ribs. The production of the bagglot can be 4 times longer than it.

The black devourer lives 700-3000 meters below the surface of the ocean. Such depths are poorly studied, and therefore little is known about the habits of the sack. Most of the specimens caught were found on the surface of the water. They ended up there after they swallowed especially large prey, which they did not have time to digest. As a result, due to the decomposition of the food eaten, gases began to form, which lifted the fish upward.

The sackcap is colored close to black, body length is 19 cm. It has very large jaws, armed with sharp fangs, which help to keep prey. It reproduces with the help of eggs, which it lays in the winter. The fry are lighter in color than the adults and have small thorns that disappear afterwards.

9th place: Butterfly fish (Pantodon buchholzi)

Rating: 4.2

Butterfly fish (Pantodon buchholzi)

This unusual fish lives in the lakes of West Africa. The body is colored in brown-silver color, its length is no more than 12 cm. The pectoral fins have a longitudinal light stripe and, when extended, resemble the wings of a butterfly. Because of this appearance, the fish is popular among aquarists, who have known it since the beginning of the last century.

The butterfly fish also has other names – for example, moth fish or pantodon. The last word translated from Greek means “all-tooth”. Pantodons live at the very surface of the water, feeding on mosquito larvae, crustaceans, and even smaller fish. They can catch flying insects by jumping out of the water. The swim bladder of this fish is adapted for air breathing.

In an aquarium, pantodon requires high temperature (25-30 ° C), constant aeration, plants with wide leaves, under which water “moths” hide during the day. These fish, due to their outstretched fins, are vulnerable in relation to other fish living near the surface, therefore it is recommended to keep them only together with benthic species.

10th place: Goliath fish (Hydrocynus goliath)

Rating: 4.1

Goliath fish (Hydrocynus goliath)

The large tiger fish, or goliath, can be attributed not only to the most outlandish, but also to the most dangerous. It belongs to the piranha family and is one of the largest among these ruthless predators – 180 cm in length, 50 kg in weight. The goliath lives in rivers and lakes throughout Africa.

The first thing that catches your eye in the shape of this fish is its powerful teeth and general frightening appearance. In the case of a goliath, this appearance is not deceiving – it really poses a threat not only to fish of its size, but also to much larger aquatic inhabitants. Due to the structure of their jaws, fish are able to tear off pieces of meat from prey, which can be mammals and even crocodiles. Man, fortunately, is not included in the goliath's food interests, but there have been isolated cases of attacks on people.

Goliath is a favorite fishing target for Africans. It is difficult to catch him with a net, as he simply breaks its cells with his teeth. Tiger fish are often kept in commercial aquariums, which require 2,000-3,000 liters of water per specimen. You can only settle a goliath either with your own kind, or with other large and protected species – others will quickly be eaten.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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