Fish come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. From the brightly-colored coral reef fish to the sleek and powerful predators of the open ocean, there is a seemingly endless variety of fish to marvel at. However, there is a group of fish that often goes overlooked and even despised due to their less-than-conventional appearance: the so-called “ugly fish.”
But what makes a fish ugly? Is it their bulging eyes, lumpy skin, or strange appendages? Perhaps it is simply that they do not fit the traditional mold of what we consider beautiful or desirable. Whatever the reason, it is time to give these unconventional fish their due appreciation.
01. Sarcastic Fringehead
The Sarcastic Fringehead is an odd-looking animal that is found in the Pacific Ocean. It has a large, bulbous head and a gaping mouth that it uses to intimidate other fish. When threatened, the Sarcastic Fringehead will expand its mouth to make it appear even larger, revealing a set of sharp teeth that are sure to scare off any predator.
Also known as the “sea-devil,” the monkfish is a type of anglerfish that can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, from Norway to Senegal. While the monkfish might not win any beauty contests, it is a prized catch for fishermen due to its delicious taste. The monkfish has a large, flat head and a wide mouth full of sharp teeth. Its body is thick and muscular, covered in a rough, scale-less skin. The monkfish can grow up to three feet in length and weigh up to 50 pounds.
03. Wolf Fish
The wolf fish is a carnivorous fish found in the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Its large, toothy mouth and intimidating appearance have earned it the nickname “sea monster.” The wolf fish has a long, eel-like body and can grow up to six feet in length. Its skin is covered in a layer of slime, making it difficult for predators to catch. Despite its scary appearance, the wolf fish is not considered a threat to humans.
The blobfish might just be the ugliest fish in the sea. This gelatinous creature has a soft, jelly-like body and a droopy, frowning face that makes it look like it’s in a perpetual state of despair. The blobfish lives in the deep waters off the coast of Australia and Tasmania, where it feeds on crabs and lobsters. Despite its unappealing appearance, the blobfish has become somewhat of an internet sensation in recent years, with many people finding its unusual looks oddly endearing.
05. Gulper Eel
The gulper eel, also known as the pelican eel, is a deep-sea dweller that can be found at depths of up to 6,000 feet. It has a long, snake-like body and a disproportionately large mouth that it uses to swallow prey whole. The gulper eel’s body is dark brown or black and covered in small, glowing spots called photophores. While the gulper eel might not be conventionally attractive, its unique adaptations make it a fascinating creature to study.
06. Red-Lipped Batfish
The red-lipped batfish is a bottom-dwelling fish found off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. It gets its name from its bright red, lipstick-like lips. This strange looking sea creature has a flattened body and can walk on its fins, using them like legs to move along the ocean floor. Its eyes are located high on its head, allowing it to scan the water for prey while it walks. While the red-lipped batfish might not be the most attractive fish in the sea, its funny looking appearance and behavior make it a fascinating creature to observe.
The lumpfish, also known as the lumpsucker, is a small, round fish that lives in the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It has a thick, gelatinous body covered in tiny bumps, giving it a lumpy appearance. The lumpfish uses a suction disk on its belly to attach itself to rocks or other surfaces. It is often used in the food industry, as its roe (eggs) are a delicacy in many parts of the world.
08. Asian Sheepshead Wrasse
The Asian sheepshead wrasse, also known as the kobudai, is a large, odd-looking fish found in the waters off the coast of East Asia. It has a long, narrow body and a protruding forehead that gives it a sheep-like appearance. The Asian sheepshead wrasse can grow up to three feet in length and can weigh over 40 pounds. It is often considered a delicacy in Japan and South Korea.
The stargazer is a fish that gets its name from its unusual eyes, which are located on the top of its head and look upwards. It is found in coastal waters around the world and has a flat, round body that is often camouflaged to blend in with the ocean floor. The stargazer has a large mouth full of sharp teeth and can produce electric shocks to stun prey. It is considered a delicacy in some countries, although it can be dangerous to eat due to the presence of a toxin in its flesh.
10. Deep Sea Hatchetfish
The Deep Sea Hatchetfish is a strange-looking creature that lives in the deepest parts of the ocean. It has a slender, silver body with huge eyes that help it see in the dark waters. The most noticeable feature of this fish is its long, sharp, hatchet-shaped snout. Despite its intimidating appearance, this fish is only about two inches long.
11. Viper Fish
The viper fish is a deep-sea dweller that can be found at depths of up to 5,000 feet. It has a long, thin body and a large, fang-filled mouth that it uses to capture prey. The viper fish is usually a dark, almost black color, although some species have glowing photophores on their bodies that make them appear bioluminescent. Despite its menacing appearance, the viper fish is a relatively small fish, usually only reaching lengths of six to ten inches.
The stonefish is widely considered to be one of the most venomous fish in the world. It is found in the coastal waters of the Indo-Pacific region and has a mottled, rock-like appearance that helps it blend in with its surroundings. The stonefish has 13 dorsal spines that are capable of injecting a potent neurotoxin, which can cause severe pain, paralysis, and even death in humans.
13. Hairy Frogfish
The hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) is a master of camouflage, using its shaggy, irregularly-shaped exterior to blend in with its surroundings. This species is found in tropical waters around the world, from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. It can grow up to 20 cm in length and is known for its large mouth and numerous appendages. The hairy frogfish also has a unique hunting strategy, using a lure that resembles a small fish or shrimp to attract prey.
Anglerfish are deep-sea fish that are known for their bizarre appearance and unique method of hunting. They have a modified dorsal fin that acts as a lure to attract prey. The lure is tipped with a bioluminescent bulb that is used to attract prey in the dark depths of the ocean. Anglerfish are also notable for their sexual dimorphism; the males are significantly smaller than the females and are often parasitic, attaching themselves to the female’s body and living off of her nutrients.
15. Ambon Scorpionfish
The Ambon scorpionfish (Pteroidichthys amboinensis) is a master of disguise, blending in perfectly with the rocky reefs and coral crevices where it lives. This species is found in the Indo-Pacific region, from the Red Sea to Japan. It has a distinctive appearance, with a large head and a venomous spine on its dorsal fin. The Ambon scorpionfish is also known for its large, pectoral fins that resemble wings, which it uses to glide effortlessly through the water.
16. Ocean Sunfish
The ocean sunfish, also known as the Mola mola, is a large, bizarre-looking fish found in oceans around the world. It has a flattened, circular body and can grow up to ten feet in length and weigh over two tons. The ocean sunfish is known for its unusual swimming style, which involves flapping its dorsal and anal fins like wings. Despite its massive size, the ocean sunfish feeds primarily on jellyfish and other small invertebrates.
17. Black Swallower
The Great Swallower, or Black Swallower, is a fish that has a unique way of consuming prey. It swallows prey whole, even if the prey is much larger than itself. Its stomach is incredibly elastic and can expand up to ten times its normal size. It can be found at depths of up to 2,000 meters, making it one of the deepest living fish in the ocean.
18. Spinyhead Blenny
The Spinyhead Blenny, also known as the Acanthemblemaria spinosa, is a small fish that lives in the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea. This fish has a distinctive appearance with a large head covered in spines and a body that is mottled with different shades of brown and green. While it may not be the prettiest fish, it has adapted to its environment by using its spiny head to hide in crevices and avoid predators.
The Fangtooth is a deep-sea fish with an intimidating appearance. It has long, needle-like teeth that make it look like a miniature sea monster. However, its teeth are not just for show. They are used to catch and hold onto prey in the dark, deep sea where it resides. Despite its scary appearance, the Fangtooth is not a threat to humans.
20. Demon Stinger
The demon stinger, also known as the striped stingfish, is a small, venomous fish found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. It has a mottled, striped appearance that helps it blend in with its surroundings. The demon stinger has venomous spines on its dorsal fin and is known for its painful sting, which can cause swelling, paralysis, and even death in humans.
21. Flying Gurnard
The flying gurnard, also known as the helmet gurnard, is a small fish found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. It has a distinctive appearance, with a broad, triangular head and large pectoral fins that resemble wings. The flying gurnard is known for its ability to “fly” through the water using its pectoral fins.
22. Fanfan Seadevil
The Fanfan Seadevil is a type of anglerfish that lives at depths of up to 1,500 meters. Its appearance is truly unique, with a large, fleshy bulb on its head that houses a bioluminescent lure. It uses this lure to attract prey in the dark depths of the ocean. The Fanfan Seadevil is a true example of the strange and fascinating creatures that inhabit the deep sea.
23. Long-Nosed Chimaera
The Long-Nosed Chimaera, also known as the Rhino Chimaera, is a type of cartilaginous fish that has a long, pointed snout. It uses its snout to sense prey on the ocean floor, where it spends most of its time. Despite its odd appearance, the Long-Nosed Chimaera is an important part of the deep-sea ecosystem.
24. Deep Sea Dragonfish
The Deep Sea Dragonfish is a fish that has a unique adaptation for life in the deep sea. Its body is black and covered in small, light-producing organs called photophores. It also has large, sharp teeth and a long, slender body that allows it to move quickly through the water. The Deep Sea Dragonfish is a prime example of how deep-sea fish have adapted to their environment.
The Grenadier is a type of fish that can be found at depths of up to 5,000 meters. It has a long, slender body and a large head with a protruding jaw. Its appearance may not be the most attractive, but it plays an important role in the deep-sea ecosystem. The Grenadier feeds on small crustaceans and other fish, helping to control their populations.
Despite their unusual appearances, these ugly fish species play an important role in their respective ecosystems. They are often apex predators or important prey items for other species, and their unique adaptations have allowed them to survive and thrive in their environments. So the next time you’re exploring the ocean, keep an eye out for these fascinating and bizarre creatures – you never know what you might discover.