Fishing is associated with fun, excitement, and a good-looking catch to go home with. You may possibly know of beautiful fish like the goldfish, lionfish, and the Moorish idol. However, did you know that there are ugly fishes in the ocean?
Read on to learn more about them and how their appearance is adapted to their living environment.
(You might also be interested in reading about the Largest Fish in the Ocean)
Top 10 Ugly Fish
Some of the top 10 ugliest fish include:
10. White Sturgeon
The white sturgeon weighs close to a ton and is considered to be one of the largest fish in North America. Their skeletons have cartilage rather than bone and use their suction cup-like mouths to feed on small invertebrates and mollusks.
What makes them have a prehistoric appearance is the bony plates that cover their skin called scutes. When you look closely, you’ll realize that this fish resembles a shark, especially its tail. That combined with their weight and length, makes the white sturgeon a highly sought after gamefish.
The sturgeon has a huge mouth without any tongue. It also uses its four barbells to sense food.
9. Frilled Shark
The frilled shark also called the living fossil is one of the scariest and ugliest fish species. It has 300 triangular shaped needle-sharp teeth divided into 25 rows. Its mouth continues to the rear of its head, giving it an appearance of a gaping mouth. The throat also has six frilled gills.
The frilled shark closely resembles an eel, the only difference is that the former has fins. It also resembles a snake-like appearance with its elongated body. Scientists also believe that these fish species hunt in a similar way as snakes. Although a few people have spotted this shark, scientists claim that the frilled shark uses caves and crevices to hunt for its prey.
You can spot the frilled shark in the Caribbean, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. Although this shark can be scary, it doesn’t feed on humans. It feeds on other sea animals like the octopus, squid, cuttlefish, mollusks, and other sharks.
8. Northern Stargazer
The northern stargazer can reach 18 inches, but there are some reports of one that is 22 inches in length. This fish gets its name from how it has its eyes positioned on top of the head. This fish species lives at the bottom of deep and open waters, waiting for its prey. They attack any fish within reach by shocking them with an electrical charge and poisoning them with venom. The poison is found in the spine near the pectoral fins.
Northern stargazers are popular in the lower Chesapeake Bay, although sometimes you can spot them along the Atlantic coast.
The strange-looking fish has a flattened body and a huge head. Its blackish-brown body has white spots that get bigger from the head to its tail. The northern stargazer also has its eyes and mouth on top of its head, facing upward. On its tail are three dark horizontal lines.
Despite their strange appearance, the Northern stargazers do not prey on humans, but instead prefer to feed on crustaceans, crabs, and small fish.
The wolffish is also known as the devil fish or the sea wolf weighs close to 50 pounds and is about five feet in length. This species is easy to recognize due to its unique and distinct features. You’ll notice its protruded canine-like teeth, absent pelvic fins, and continuous dorsal fin.
The fish got its name from its canine-like teeth as they resemble that of a wolf. Their powerful jaws and strong teeth make it simple for them to eat crabs, sea urchins, shrimp, brittlestars, and other marine organisms.
Wolffish are blue to grey in color, and their underside is lighter compared to the top part. Adults have dark vertical patches along the length of their bodies.
Commonly found in the North Atlantic and Arctic, the wolf fish prefer cold water temperatures. You’ll find them in different bottom types, with the most common being large rocks, stony areas, and where boulders are present.
Although the wolffish have a scary appearance, they are shy. Still, their feeding habit helps maintain the marine ecosystem balance. Wolffish are hunted for their skin as it’s used as leather to make certain items.
Catfish belong to a group of ray-finned fish. You can find over 3000 species of catfish all around the world apart from Antarctica. Catfish differ in behavior and size. The catfish’s average size is 1.6 meters. They got their name from the protruded barbs that look that a cat’s whiskers. It’s these whiskers and an elongated mouth that give them a scary appearance.
Most catfish species have spines in front of the dorsal and pectoral fins. The spines are thought to contain venom glands that could cause injuries. No catfish has scales, as they have armored bony plates.
Unlike other fish species, the catfish can live in freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water. The catfish eat fish, fish eggs, snails, and insects. Some eat algae and wood. The main predators of catfish are reptiles, large fish, mammals, and humans. Catfish have a lifespan of 20 years, but this depends on the species.
(You might be interested in reading about the other Largest Freshwater Fish)
Monkfish are not your ordinary-looking fish. They have their mouths facing upward, eyes on top of the head, and a wide head. They are also called the American anglers or goosefish. This species looks like a cross between a rug and a stingray.
Monkfish have extensive pectoral fins and large triangular fins. They have two dorsal fins before the tail fin.
Adult monkfish are around 50 pounds and measure up to five feet long. Most of them are muddy brown with dark or light brown speckles. Their underbelly is white. While monkfish are not as tall, they have a large width, something that makes them appear fat. They also lack scales, something that makes them slippery and challenging to grab.
Monkfish eat anything they come across, including lobsters, squid, zooplankton, shrimp, small fish, crabs, seabirds, octopus, and other monkfish.
These fish are common in the western North Atlantic, although there have been sightings of them in the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll spot them on shallow waters and close to the shore. Common predators include thorny skates, swordfish, and sharks.
Female monkfish have a lifespan of 13 years, while the male monkfish can survive for only seven years.
(Please visit Fish with Longest Lifespan if you are interested in knowing their age numbers)
Stingrays do not look like a fish due to their wide and flat bodies. This fish species lack a bony skeleton and instead has a body made of cartilage. Like sharks, stingrays have sensors around their mouths that allow them to detect the electrical signals released by their prey.
Another thing that makes them scary is their poorly-placed eyes. Stingrays are common in warm ocean waters and you can spot them around the tropical and subtropical coastal areas.
Although stingrays appear harmless, they can be dangerous. Their spine or barb has a sharp point and serrated edges. The spine is dangerous to humans, and the underside produces the venom that is also fatal.
(You might be interested in reading about the other Most Dangerous Fish in the Ocean)
The fish uses camouflage to protect itself from bigger rays and predatory sharks. They mimic the seafloor as they hide from predators and as they lie in wait for their prey. A stingray’s diet includes mussels, clams, crabs, shrimp, and oysters.
Stingrays’ natural predators include other large fish, sea lions, seals, and sharks. Their lifespan varies between 15-25 years.
3. Goblin Shark
Some people refer to the goblin shark as one of the creepiest fish in the world. Apart from being the ugliest fish, the goblin shark is the only living species of its kind left. It measures close to 13 feet in length and has an oddly-shaped jaw. Its shark teeth are soft and delicate.
The shark lives deep in the sea and can be found at depths of 1300 meters. Despite being scary, this fish species don’t pose any real threat to humans. It lives in deep water, has poor eyesight, and it’s not a good swimmer.
Its color acts as a good camouflage as it allows the shark to blend in with the surrounding when hunting for prey. The shark has an elongated snout that resembles a giant blade and acts as a prey detector. Goblin sharks feed on shrimps, crabs, lobsters, prawns, rattail fish, squid, and octopus.
The deep-sea anglerfish is angry-looking and ranked as one of the ugliest sea creatures. It lives at the bottom of the sea. Most of them are found in the Antarctic and Atlantic oceans, while a few prefer more tropical, shallow environments.
Anglerfish have a dark brown to dark gray color. They have huge crescent-shaped mouths with sharp teeth. The teeth are designed for maximum bite. Their huge heads are oddly-shaped. Most range between 8-40 inches in size and weigh about 100 pounds.
Anglerfish do not pose a threat to humans as it’s impossible for humans to reach the depths of the sea. They feed on shrimp, snails, squid, small fish, and other marine creatures.
The blobfish has a reputation of being the ugliest marine creature on the planet. Its regular habitat is 4000 feet underwater. However, when brought up to the surface, it loses its shape. This is because blobfish do not have muscle mass or bones.
Blobfish feed on shellfish, sea urchins, and crabs. Their lack of muscle mass makes movement a challenge, and they have to conserve this energy to survive. Since they are found at great depths, not much is known about their lifespan or preferred habitat.
A Few Other Ugly Fish Worthy of Mention
- Black swallower
- Marble-mouthed frogfish
- Sheepshead fish
The above ten made it to our list of the ugliest fish in the ocean. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing about two regarding these off-looking marine creatures.