What distinguishes the beauty of nature is diversity. Hundreds and thousands of varieties of fish, mammals, trees, reptiles, and the list goes on. This time around, we will focus on life in the ocean.
We have heard of how majestic certain fish species are, but what about the ugliest fish species in the world? When we define “ugly,” it typically regards the physical appearance of the fish beyond the realm of pleasant aesthetics.
Does it reduce their importance in the ecosystem? Not. Most of these “ugly” fish species have a critical role in the aquatic ecosystem. This article will highlight the top 13 ugliest fish species in the world you should know.
Here Are The 13 Ugliest Fish Species
When looking into the top ugliest fish species, we wanted to sort out the ones that are of prime importance too. Remember that the “ugly” nature of the fish is only limited to how they look and has no scientific meaning.
Following are the top 13 Ugliest Fish Species worth exploring:
Let us start this with trivia. Did you know that blobfish is the mascot of “The Ugly Animal Preservation Society?” It was unanimously elected in 2013. Native to Australia, the gelatinous appearance of this fish is often repulsive to look at.
However, we must realize that their appearance is due to their living conditions. Blobfish live in an extremely high-pressure environment, leading to their thick, gelatinous appearance. It has a squidgy flesh that maintains its buoyancy, despite them being in deeper ends in the ocean.
Surprisingly, the fish doesn’t look as horrific inside the water. It’s only when it comes to the surface will you get scared of its appearance. Also, fish species are endangered.
2. Frilled Shark
The frilled Shark has a conservation status of “least concern” and is one of the last surviving species in this particular shark family. It is native to the deeper ends of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. What’s unique about the appearance is the elongated “tail-like” body. It resembles the appearance of an eel a lot.
But what makes them terrifying is their set of 300 sharp-needle teeth. Paired with the snake-like head and a large jaw, this looks very petrifying. Their jaw can open large enough to swallow their prey whole and without hassle.
What adds to their ugly appearance are the front slits, which appear ruffled, hence the name. Also, their dark brown and sometimes grey appearance doesn’t do them any favor.
3. Angler Fish
Next up on the list is Angler Fish. Although its representation in “Finding Nemo” isn’t as terrifying, the fish is quite unpleasant to look at in real life. The elongated and protruding organ that dangles from the front of their head called the esca, justifies the title “ugly.”
Also, the non-uniform shape with dots all over the body adds to the horrifying appearance further. The fish generally grows up to 8 inches in length. Your chances of seeing the fish depend on the type. If it’s pelagic, they are not seen often. But they often chill around the water’s surface if they are benthic.
4. Red Lipped Batfish
More than ugly, the Red Lipped Batfish has a very strange appearance. Native to the Galapagos Islands, the fish mimics the human appearance, especially its facial features.
The beard, nose, mustache, and even the lips are very human-like, making them very strange. Although unique in their appearance, scientists believe that the “red-strained” pouty lips are crucial to their mating cycle.
They are found on the surface level quite often, so it isn’t surprising that the fish is easy to spot in the areas where it’s found.
Don’t get persuaded by the name; monkfish have an ugly “resting face,” making them one of the ugliest fish in the world. Also, the mottled skin with the fang-like teeth doesn’t help its case. With the huge head and broad fins, you are bound to be scared if you come across one.
Often found on the ocean floor, monkfish can walk there too, which is unique. They are very sharp and intelligent predators. You will often find them hiding behind sand or seaweed in the ocean.
Despite the ugly appearance, monkfish is quite priced in multiple countries, including Japan. The liver is a delicacy in Japan.
6. Sloane’s Viperfish
Often known as the Fangfish, Sloane’s Viperfish is an ugly fish species found 1000-2000 meters deep inside the ocean. The fish thrives in areas with temperate and tropical temperatures.
Besides having a unique and repulsive appearance, the fish also holds a Guinness Book of Records spot for its humongous teeth size compare to its head. The fish normally grows up to 60 cm in length and use photophores.
Despite their ugly appearance, they are an integral part of the ecosystem. They can also live up to 40 years in the wild.
Don’t get deterred by the name because a Hagfish looks nothing like a fish should. Instead, they are categorized as “marine animals” and have an elongated eel-like structure. The species is nearly blind but has a heightened sense of smell and touch, which they utilize to keep themselves safe.
They typically feed on invertebrates in the ocean and have rasps pinchers beneath their tongue. Although they aren’t a common “food item” in most parts of the world, it is eaten as a delicacy in Korea and Japan.
Hagfish is often known as slime-eel since it can secrete and shoot out liters of slime in the ocean when they feel threatened and want to protect themselves.
8. Goblin Shark
Although a very rare species of shark, Goblin Shark is one of those terrifying to look at. Their appearance is often described as “fossil-like” due to their unique snout shape. But what makes them even more terrifying is the protruding snout that elongates outwards from their teeth.
The shark can easily grow up to 13 feet in length and thrive in the deeper levels of the ocean. So, it isn’t surprising that humans rarely see them.
Some scientists say these sharks can dive up to 1300 meters into the ocean. Besides their appearance, their mating cycle and reproductive behavior are also unique.
9. Whitemargin Stargazer
Seeing the name, you might think that the fish doesn’t look as terrifying as many would say. However, that’s where you are wrong. The name does no justice to the appearance of this fish. They are bottom-dwellers and have their eyes on top of their heads.
Besides that, they also have abnormally large heads and upward-facing mouths, which adds to their somewhat ugly appearance. But, despite their appearance, they are one of the most intelligent fish species in the ocean.
They are amazing predators and often bury themselves inside sand to shield and then pounce on their unsuspecting prey.
10. Atlantic Wolffish
What makes an Atlantic Wolffish ugly is its large head and fang-like teeth. However, since the fish typically feeds on hard-shell crustaceans, sea urchins, lobsters, etc., their teeth serve a functional purpose too.
They are easy to spot since they often chill around the ocean’s surface. What’s great about these fish is the unique anti-freeze protein they secrete in their body. It keeps their blood fluid, despite them living in freezing conditions.
11. Illuminated NetDevil
If we had to crown one at the top of the list of the ugliest fish, the Illuminated NetDevil would take it. It is a type of angler fish, so you have the staple dangling organ in front of the head.
The luminous lures that hang out of their head add a uniqueness to their appearance. The fish doesn’t grow much and typically grows up to 8-10 cm in length.
But, if you see them in real life, prepare to notice the parasitic male Illuminated NetDevil hanging onto the body of the female one.
12. Spotted Handfish
Native to Australia, Spotted Handfish is another rare yet ugly fish species that deserve a special mention in the list. They are currently endangered and are under strict conservation.
What gives them their unique appearance is the “hand-like” fins. They come from extreme modification of the pectoral fins. They also belong to the angler fish family and grow up to 4.7 inches in length.
The Spotted Handfish is benthic, meaning they remain on the ocean’s surface, around 5-meter depth. So, if you are in Australia, you may see one in real time.
13. Smooth lumpfish
Commonly found in North Pacific, Smooth lumpfish is the last mention in the list of ugliest fish species in the world. They are bottom dwellers and live 1,700 m into the ocean and can grow up to 41 cm.
What makes them ugly is their slimy and smooth brownish-gray appearance with dark spots all over. They don’t have any scales and smoother outer skin that allows them to slip out of the grasp of predators.
Their anal spines and dorsal soft rays are unique traits that add to their terrifying appearance. The thickened margin on the ventral side of the fish’s body is also a unique trait.
If you were confused about the top ugly fish species in the world, these are the top ones worth mentioning. Remember that most of these species are endangered or rare in the wild. Finding or getting to see one in real-time can be challenging. So, we hope this article gives you a rounded look into the top ones in the world.