American Oceans

Ugliest Fish in the World

With over 34000 species, fish are amongst the most beautiful creations of mother nature. However, not all species are as attractive and pleasing to the eyes as the betta fish or the clownfish.

ugliest fish of anglerfish terrifying marine species

The astounding diversity of marine species that exist exceeds our imagination, and there are various fish species with astonishing appearances that you could never visualize in your head.

The ugliest fish ranked below are some of the most bizarre-looking species that will surely leave you amazed by their terrifying appearance.

Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus)

The Blobfish inhabits the dark depths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans oceans. This droopy, slimy fish with a gelatinous appearance was named the ugliest fish in the world in a public poll by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

This deep-sea creature always lives at depths greater than 1600 feet in an extremely high-pressure environment and can be found as deep as 4000 feet.

Its unique body composition is an adaptation of the pressure of the depths, enabling it to swim at such great depths with little effort.

The Blobfish is an endangered species. While it has no natural predators, humans are a significant threat to its dwindling population. As the Blobfish lives near the seafloor, accidental capture during trawling is common.

Angler fish (Linophrynidae)

The second ugliest fish ranked is the Angler Fish, an angry-looking creature that lives at the bottom of the Antarctic and Atlantic oceans.

angry-looking angler fish linophrynidae in atlantic oceans

It is regarded as the most hideous marine creature and perhaps the ugliest animal on our planet.

It derives its name from the luminescent piece of retractable dorsal fin above the mouth, which is similar to a fishing pole, attracting prey towards it.

The Angler Fish has a massive head and enormous crescent-shaped mouth featuring sharp, translucent teeth.

angler fish crescent-shaped mouth and translucent teeth

It has a dark gray to dark brown appearance, and there are above 200 species of anglerfish present in the lightless bottom of the oceans.

Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus)

Found in the murky depths of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Frilled Shark, also referred to as a living fossil, ranked amongst the most primitive species of sharks existing today.

frilled shark chlamydoselachus with eel-like elongate body

These sharks have an eel-like elongate body, and it bends and lunges quick enough to sink their 300 needle-sharp teeth into their prey.

Another distinctive feature of the Frilled Shark is its snake-like head and extraordinarily wide jaws, which are wide enough to allow it to swallow the entire prey whole.

Illuminated Netdevil (Linophryne arborifera)

A species of anglerfish, the Illuminated Netdevil is native to the tropical and subtropical oceans of the world.

Like other deep-sea fish, it has luminous organs that it uses to lure prey. Male Illuminated Netdevils are significantly smaller than their female counterparts and parasitic.

They are attached to the female’s belly close to the anus, spending their lives hanging upside down and facing forward.

Monkfish (Lophius)

Monkfish, also known as goosefish, fishing frogs, sea devils, and anglers, is a bottom-dwelling species of fish that belong to the Lophiidae family.

monkfish lophius huge head and fang-like teeth

Featuring mottled skin, a huge head and mouth, small eyes, and fang-like teeth, Monkfish are not only one of the ugliest fish in the ocean but voracious feeders too, feeding upon any prey available to them.

Despite its unpleasant, ghoulish appearance, the Monkfish is a delectable sea monster. Native to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, it is savored in Europe, with its liver being a delicacy in Japan.

Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni)

The Goblin Shark is a deep ocean dweller and amongst the rarest sharks in existence today. An active predator, it has a long, elongated snout and a strange, oddly shaped jaw with sharp teeth. Its slingshot jaws protrude far from its mouth to ambush and grasp prey.

goblin shark elongated snout and slingshot jaws

Featuring pink to purplish gray skin due to visible blood vessels beneath the skin, the Goblin Shark has a slender, flabby body. This shark poses little to no danger to humans despite its intimidating appearance.

Atlantic Wolffish (Anarhichas lupus)

The Atlantic Wolffish, also known as the sea wolf or the devilfish, lives up to its name due to its ferocious appearance.

atlantic wolffish anarhichas lupus in north atlantic ocean

It has large, canine-like teeth sticking out of its mouth, which it uses to hunt slow-moving prey like crabs, lobsters, sea urchins, and large marine snails.

Found near the sea bed in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic, this aggressive predator is well-adapted for cold water habitats and has an astonishing ability to produce antifreeze compounds that prevent its blood from freezing. The Atlantic Wolffish is threatened by bottom trawlers and often caught as bycatch.

Sloane’s Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani)

The Sloane’s Viperfish is a species of dragonfish found in the temperate and tropical waters worldwide, in depths ranging from 3280 and 6561 feet. It feeds primarily on crustaceans and small fish and has an elongated dorsal spine.

Like most other deep-sea inhabitants, it has a light-producing organ called photophores, which help attract and grab its favorite meal and mask the species’ silhouette from larger predators lurking below.

Hagfish (Myxini)

The Hagfish is an eel-shaped, bottom-dwelling marine creature found in the cold, deep waters around the world.

While it has gills like most other fish, the hagfish has no jaws or eyes. Its body comprises no bones, and its skeleton is made entirely of cartilage.

Also known as slime eels, this creepy-looking fish can squirt out several liters of slime at once, which it uses to defend itself from predators and get a safe, slippery exit.

Another unique characteristic of this species is that it feeds on dead fish or other dying organisms on the ocean floor, burrowing itself deep into the flesh of carcasses, eating the meal from inside out.

Whitemargin Stargazer (Uranoscopus sulphureus)

Part of the stargazer family, the Whitemargin Stargazer has eyes on the top of its head and an upward-facing mouth.

whitemargin stargazer uranoscopus sulphureus submerging in the sand

As an ambush predator, its hunting tactics involve submerging itself in the sand with only eyes showing and ambushing passing prey as it comes in the striking range of its mouth.

The Whitemargin Stargazer’s hunting abilities are also enhanced by its ability to inflict electric shock through its electroplaques.

Red-lipped Batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini)

Another bottom-dweller inhabiting the waters around the Galapagos Islands, it would be an understatement to say that the Red-lipped Batfish is an unusual fish.

red-lipped batfish ogcocephalus darwini with red pout

The fish has its signature look, featuring a striking bright red pout, a beard, and a mustache. Some people may just find themselves hard-pressed to believe that this strange-looking marine creature is not wearing makeup! 

After reaching sexual maturity, its modified dorsal fin works to lure in prey like small fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Truly unlike other fish species in the oceans, the red-lipped batfish is an awkward swimmer, using its pectoral and pelvic fins to ‘walk’ on the seafloor.

red-lipped batfish using pelvic fins to walk

Final Thoughts

And there we have it! These were some of the ugliest fish ranked on the planet. The oceans are home to many fish species that stagger with their size or shape and strange and hideous looks.

Despite their not so aesthetically pleasing appearance, it is crucial to know that each creature exists for a specific purpose and plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

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