Top 25 Ugly Fish in the World

Ugliest Fish

These are the ghoulish goblins and vampires of the deep sea. Don’t get too close. Some are mighty poisonous. Others may do you more damage than a grizzly bear. A few others emit electricity that may turn you into a vegetable. Let’s get down to it.

1. The Blobfish

Blobfish
©Photograph by Kerryn Parkinson  NORFANZ Founding Parties, distributed under Australian Museum.

The blobfish is the world’s ugliest fish based on a rating by the “Society for the Preservation of Ugly Animals.” Blobfish lives 1200 meters underwater. This unsightly fish is 30 cm long and is made up of a jelly mass that quickly loses its shape when brought above water. Sea depth pressure is to blame for the ugly and malleable appearance of blobfish. They sacrifice looks for survival.

2. Wolffish

Wolffish

Imagine a fish with a cat-like head, a big mouth of serrated teeth, and globes of soulless black eyes. Scuba divers and marine researchers christened it Sea Cat. Wolffish is as long as eels, often with sizes of about 1.5 meters long. Wolffish are normally blue or light green. These looks, experts say, are an adaptation to survive in freezing waters.

3. Deep-sea anglerfish

Deep-sea anglerfish

One other fishy creature that you will find deep underwater is the deep-sea anglerfish. It is little an underwater devil in the shape of a fish. Males grow to 3cm and females to a domineering 20 cm. On the head, males have a light-emitting mechanism that they use for hunting and seducing females.

4. Uranoscopidae

Uranoscopidae

This fashionably ugly fish has its flattened body, big head, and fins that look scary. It can grow as big a 90cm. The uranoscopidae burrows through the sand to suddenly spring up on unsuspecting prey. A few Uranoscopidae come with baits at the base of their mouth. Don’t get too close. These fish emit deadly poison.

5. Sea pig

Sea pig
©Photograph by NOAA/MBARI, distributed under Wikimedia Commons.

If you could dive 95000 meters to the belly of the ocean, sea pigs would be one of the ugly surprises waiting for you. They are extra chubby and pale pink. They have seven pairs of limbs and two pairs of dorsal papillae. These poor, poor creatures feed on the sediment at the base of the ocean.

6. Lumpfish

Lumpfish

It lives in cold waters, and it’s a poor swimmer because of its tiny fins. Lumpfish comes in all sizes and shapes. Lumpfish females are several times larger than males. The largest lumpfish ever caught weighed 9.6 kg and measured 61 cm long. They have a ball-like shape with bony tubercles on each side. Sometimes they are blue or yellowish and other times greyish and brownish.

7. Moon Fish

Moon Fish

Moonfish is a large bony fish with a bizarre prominent head covering a large section of its body. This fish is reportedly the heaviest vertebrate fish with an average weight of one ton. Moonfish is a warm-blooded fish species, only one of its kind known to scientists. The opinion is divided; some consider the moonfish to be beautiful, but generally, it lacks that je ne sais quoi of ornamental fish.

8. Toadfish

Toadfish
©2021 Photograph by, and distributed by Encyclopædia Britannica.

The toadfish can live in hardship conditions and survives on little food. It hides in sands lying in wait for its prey which includes small fish and mollusks. Toadfish look hideous, and males have horny structures on their heads, which they use to seduce females. Toadfish are prey to dolphins, and worst that happens when they are mating.

9. Striped frogfish

Striped frogfish

The striped frogfish grows to 22 cm and is primarily found in tropical waters of the world’s oceans. It has a strange globular and stretchy body. For scales, this frogfish has thorns. Its behemoth mouth helps it swallow live prey. The striped frogfish is like an underwater chameleon, changing colors based on the hues of its environment.

10. White sturgeon

White sturgeon
©Photograph by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, distributed under Flickr.

The white sturgeon is a large fish species native to North America. Its skeletons have cartilage instead of bone, and it uses a mouth that looks like a suction cup to feed on small mollusks and boneless creatures of the ocean. Up close, the white sturgeon looks like a shark, given its bone plates on the skin and long anatomy. Their large mouth is tongue-less.

11. Frilled shark

Frilled shark
©Photograph by Citron / CC BY-SA 3.0, distributed under Wikipedia Commons.

The ugly fish frilled shark has a wide mouth that continues to the back of the head. Apart from the gaping mouth, the frilled shark features 25 rows of sharp serrated teeth and six frilled gills. The frilled shark looks like an eel with fins. Frilled sharks hunt like snakes, hiding in crevices and caves to pounce on prey.

12. Northern stargazer

Northern stargazer
©Photograph by Canvasman21 at English Wikipedia, distributed under Wikipedia Commons.

Generally, the northern stargazer reaches 18 inches in length, but some reports say it gets 22 inches. Its name comes from how its eyes are prepped on top of the head. They inhabit deep open water and live at the bottom of the water, waiting for their prey. They poison the fish around them by shocking them with electric charges and sinking their stingers into the spine of their prey near the pectoral fins.

13. Catfish

Catfish

The catfish are part of the ray-finned fish family, and there are over 3000 species of catfish spread over the world except for Antarctica. Different catfish have different behavior. Catfish are 1.6 meters long and have a protruding barb akin to a cat’s whiskers. These barbs, together with their long mouths, give them a scary appearance.

14. Goblin Shark

Goblin Shark
©Photograph by Dianne Bray / Museum Victoria, distributed under Wikipedia Commons.

Aside from being the creepiest fish species globally and being the only remaining species of its kind, the goblin shark is the ugliest fish in existence. It has a weirdly shaped jaw with teeth like a shark. Although it is scary, the Goblin shark is not a threat to humans due to its location in the deep water, the fact that it has poor eyesight, and it is not a good swimmer.

15. Monkfish

Monkfish

They look like a fusion of a rug fish and stingray. Their mouths face up, their eyes are on the top of their heads, and they have broad authority. Monkfish are also called goosefish or Amerindian anglers. These fish have large triangular fins, which extend from pectoral fins to two dorsal fins near the tail fin. The monkfish has a somewhat bigger body than they appear visually, but they lack scales, making them more slippery.

16. BumpHead ParrotFish

BumpHead ParrotFish

What kind of fish are they? Are they mad fish with big brains? No, they are just ugly. Most likely, you will never see one. Instead, you’ll see dozens as this is a species that tends to swim in schools of up to 100 or more around coral reefs. It looks scary, but it’s harmless.

17. Boney-Eared Assfish

Boney-Eared Assfish
©Photograph by NOAA Okeanos Explorer’s 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, distributed under Fishes of Australia / Museums Victoria.

There’s a creature called the Boney-Eared Assfish living about 4500 m below the surface, but don’t get your hopes up. The body of this marine creature remains buried underneath sand with only its face visible. You may never see one in your lifetime.

18. Hairy Frog Fish

Hairy Frog Fish

The Hairy Frog Fish of Australian waters is the living embodiment of that feeling when you find human hair in your delicious bugger. Nauseously ugly. Its rod-shaped dorsal fin (illicium dorsalis) lures the prey into its mouth, where it can suck in fish twice bigger than its size.

19. The illuminated devilfish

The illuminated devilfish
©Photograph by Patrik Neckman from Stockholm, Sweden, distributed under under Flickr.

These fish have luminous spikes on their bellies to attract prey. The males are much smaller and parasitic, living upside-down within the females’ bellies. In comparison with the smaller lesser devil ray, the devilfish measures 3.5 meters. There are only two species that live in the Mediterranean Sea, the reef and oceanic manta rays.

20. Whitemargin Stargazer

Whitemargin Stargazer

The white margin stargazer (Uranoscopus sulphureus) has upward-facing eyes and is one of the bottom-feeding ugliest fish of the world. It uses its star gazing eyes for hunting, then buries itself in the sand to lure prey. Its upward-facing mouth does the rest of the work.

21. Gulper Eel

Gulper Eel
©Photograph by Ken Graham. License: All rights reserved , distributed under under Fishes of Australia / Museums Victoria.

Its beak is extremely wide, and when fully extended, its mouth stands up to three feet in length. Thus, the gulper eel can live anywhere from 500 feet to 6,000 feet deep in tropical and temperate oceans. It has a bioluminescent tail tip, which helps it to attract prey.

22. Asian Sheepshead Wrasse

Asian Sheepshead Wrasse

Chinese, Japanese, North Korean, and South Korean waters are home to the Asian sheepshead wrasse. A healthy young one can reach approximately 40 inches in length. The Asian Sheepshead Wrasse is a prized food fish in its native range, including the waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

23. Hagfish

Hagfish

It is a long, low fish with dark skin and a paddle-like tail that prefers cold, deep water. Although toothless, it does have toothy cartilage that it uses to gnaw carcasses. The hagfish has a thick, slimy snot that can clog the mouth of any predator.

24. Sloane’s Viperfish

Sloane's Viperfish
©Photograph by Citron / CC BY-SA 3.0, distributed under Wikipedia Commons.

There are almost no sharks in temperate and tropical waters 2,000 meters deep other than Sloane’s viperfish (Chauliodus Sloane). Their ugly appearance makes them well deserving of their place on this list. Furthermore, they hold the record for the fish with the largest teeth relative to their head size.

25. Red-lipped Batfish

Red-lipped Batfish

Although the opinion is mixed regarding the beauty of the red-lipped batfish, it is a distinct fish with a bizarre appearance. Scientists believe the red lips on this species of fish help it attract mates. This species of fish is found throughout the Galapagos and on the Uruguayan coast straddling Peru and Chile.

We’ve come to the end of our ugly fish list. Anything missing? Feel free to comment below.

About Gates Godin

Gates is a Sudbury native who grew up on Lake Nipissing fishing, boating, and canoeing. Gates is a true outdoorsman who even competes in lumberjack contests.

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