There is plenty of fish in the sea. In fact, between fresh and saltwater sources, there are over 30,000 different species of fish! This means that there are endless possibilities for colors, shapes, and sizes, which also means that, sometimes, certain fish species may be less appealing to the eye than others.
Every fish is unique and special in its own way, and that’s enough for it to be appreciated.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some fish you’d rather not see on a day-to-day basis. In fact, there are some downright ugly and rather unsightly fish on the planet.
This piece shines a light with love on these ugly fish that are often forgotten and can be less researched and protected. Here’s our big list of some of the ugliest fish species in the world.
A lot of people consider the blobfish to be the ugliest fish in the world. However, much of this reputation is derived from their appearance above water.
Blobfish are deep sea fish who are used to living close to the bottom of the ocean. Because of this, their bodies aren’t designed to withstand being above water, which gives them a rather unappealing appearance. However, under the water, blobfish appear like any other fish.
So, even though they’re still considered one of the top ten ugliest fish, it’s important to be gentle on the blobfish’s appearance. They weren’t meant to be brought to the surface, after all!
At first glance, the frilled shark doesn’t even appear to be a living creature. That’s because this shark looks more like a mummy than living shark!
The frilled shark is also known as the “living fossil.” This is because it is a species of shark that has been around for at least 80 million years.
This “ugly” fish isn’t just known for its old lineage, however. It’s also known because of its distinct appearance. The frilled shark has a long, slender body. Some people say it looks like an eel. It has a flattened head and a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth!
It gets its name from its gill slits, which look like frills.
Like many other fish on this list, the frilled shark is a deep-sea fish. It is found at depths between 1,000 and 1,500 meters (3,300 to 4,900 feet) in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. These sharks are rarely seen by humans. Typically, they spend most of their time in the depths of the ocean.
3. Illuminated Netdevil
The illuminated netdevil is one of many common names for Linophryne arborifera. They are a species of anglerfish, and they’re also known as the “tree fish”.
This is because their body has a unique branching pattern. These are designed to help the illuminated netdevil blend into its environment.
Another deep-sea species, we still don’t know a lot about this misunderstood fish! Females grow to around 3 inches in length, while males are significantly smaller at around 0.6 inches.
Intriguingly, females will eat other smaller fish and crustaceans, however males will obtain their nutrition from the female, by attaching their jaws to her ventral surface and allowing them to pass.
The monkfish is also known as the “anglerfish” or “goosefish.” These “ugly” fish is a type of fish in the family Lophiidae.
It is native to the Atlantic Ocean, living from as far north as Canada and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. It can also be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Monkfish are bottom-dwelling fish. This means that they live on the ocean floor, typically at depths ranging from 30 to 150 meters (100 to 500 feet).
They are valued for their meat and regularly eaten by humans across the world, which has led to overfishing in many areas.
5. Goblin Shark
The goblin shark is another species of fish known as a living fossil. They are the only living member of their genus, Mitsukurinidae, and they have been swimming in Earth’s oceans for millions of years.
They have a long, flat snouts and extended jaws that give it an unusual, but interesting appearance. These jaws are for more than looks, however: they help the goblin shark to catch their prey.
Goblin sharks have wrinkled, translucent skin, and through this, it’s their blood that gives them a murky, pink or purplish-grey tinge.
The Atlantic wolffish is also known the seawolf. It is only found in the deep, cold waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. It can grow to be up to 1.5 meters long.
They have a set of cone-shaped, fanglike teeth on both their top and bottom jaws. These protruding teeth give them appearance of a wolf or other fearsome predator.
Like the monkfish, it is highly valued for its meat. As a result, it is also considered a species of concern, with conservation efforts in place to help keep the ocean populated with this fish.
7. Sloane’s Viperfish
Sloane’s viperfish is also known just as the viperfish. This ugly species is a deep-sea fish.
In inhabits some of the deepest areas in the ocean, ranging from 500 to 2,000 meters (1,640 to 6,560 feet). Unlike other fish that typically only thrive in one ocean, the viperfish can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
It has enormous teeth, and when it’s jaw is closed they fit together to form a perfect ‘cage’ in which to trap prey. Sloane’s Viperfish can also unhinge their jaw, allowing it to open 90 degrees and catch prey over half their body size.
Hagfish are primitive animals found in the deep parts of the ocean. This is because they are bottom-dwelling fish found at depths up to 1,500 meters.
They have a mouth like something out of an alien movie, that’s made for mincing up dead bodies.
Hagfish eat dead animals, or animals close to death. With their sharp teeth, they burrow into a carcass in oder to eat it from the inside out!
They even have the ability to produce slime when threatened.
9. Whitemargin Stargazer
The whitemargin stargazer is one of the ugliest and most unique fish in this list. It has eyes positioned on the top of its head, which give it an unusual appearance. However, it’s extremely helpful adaptation which allows it to bury most of its body into the sand and await prey.
This species is found in the Indo-Pacific region. They’re most common in the coastal waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Persian Gulf.
They’re one of the top ambush predators of the sea. They’ll bury themselves in the sand on the floor of the ocean and wait for unsuspecting prey, which they then “vacuum” up.
Though not related to the electric eel, they have a similar remarkable ability. They can discharge up to 50 volts to shock prey, or a predator!
The red-lipped batfish is known for its unusual appearance. It has a round, flat body with a wide head. Its name for its bright red lips. Although they look like they’re wearing lipstick for fun, their lips actually help them attract prey and mates.
The red-lipped batfish is mostly commonly found at depths ranging from 3 to almost 80 meters deep.
Despite living at such impressive depths, the red-lipped batfish isn’t actually a good swimmer. In fact, if you were to watch one of the ocean floors, you’d notice that they barely swim at all!
Instead, the red-lipped batfish demonstrates a strange behavior by “walking” along the ocean floor.
What is the ugliest fish in the world? And what really makes an animal ugly?
In an online vote in 2013 by the ‘Ugly Animal Preservation Society’, the poor blobfish was named the ugliest animal on the planet. Rather unfairly, considering the picture used is after it has been dragged to the surface, and decompressed out of its natural deep-sea environment. 1
That said, the study did raise awareness for endangered ugly animals that can require more help because of their less than ‘pin-up’ appearance.
We’re adding more incredible ugly fish to Fact Animal constantly. If there’s a particular ugly fish you’d like to see covered, then get in touch.