The sea is an amalgamation of strangeness, from the horrifying creatures to the ugly fish. The sea is bursting with uncertainty and is one of the world’s most terrifying places to explore.
Some of the ugliest fish include the whitemargin stargazer, viperfish, vampire fish, red-lipped batfish, and frogfish. Many of these ugly fish have massive teeth, external appendages, venomous spines, and even horns.
There are some really ugly fish in the sea. To showcase how haunting the sea can be, here is an up-close look at the ugliest fish in the world.
In Canada, the ugliest fish I’ve seen is a sculpin. They are covered in spines and we used to catch them in salt water. they are plentiful in Nova Scotia. The hardest part was getting them off the hook.
15 Ugliest Fishes in the World
Despite the uncertainty and danger, some may still want to explore the sea.
If you fall into this category, good luck on your journey, and beware of the following hideous aquatic creatures on the way:
1. Whitemargin Stargazer
The Whitemargin Stargazer may sound like a cool name, but once you see that face, you will be very disappointed at what you witness—in fact, I’m still sad.
You don’t just want to avoid seeing this creature—like, ever—you also don’t want to be near one. Usually, when a fish encounters their poisonous spine, things do not turn out well.
They live in reef flats, blend in with their surroundings, and ambush their prey with venom and electric shocks. This double-packed punch led William Leo Smith, an ichthyologist at the University of Kansas, to dub these creatures “the meanest things in creation.“
2. Deep Sea Anglerfish
The angler fish (Linophrynidae) is a horrifying-looking creature. They are found worldwide, in temperate to tropical latitudes.
I love this video – it’s one of just a few that show a mating pair of anglerfish.
As ambush predators, they can be found feeding on squid, crustaceans, and whatever else they can devour. These deep-sea predators have a unique way of hunting their prey.
Sprouting from the head is a plankton lure that produces light. With this, angler fish lures in prey.
3. Vampire Fish
You can find vampire fish (aka. payara fish) in the Amazon basin. They are famous for their two giant fangs.
Vampire fish grow up to 3 feet long and can weigh up to 35 pounds. It is an effective hunter, even eating piranhas.
The size of their fangs makes them especially scary. They can grow from 4 to 6 inches in length. They actually have holes in their upper jaw to accommodate them.
Next up are toadfish (Tetractenos hamiltoni), which have 80 different species in the depths of the sea. This unappealing fish is heavy-bodied, wide-mouthed, and has horns on its head.
Their flattened heads add to their overall creepiness, and they grow to about 16 inches.
The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a gelatinous blob. This odd-looking creature is so ugly that it was voted as the mascot for the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
The fish is an endangered species and is found off the coast of Australia.
Blobfish are only found in the depths of the sea, and as a result, their original appearance has morphed into this deflated appearance.
Your skin will crawl just from looking at the viperfish (Chauliodus sloani).
The upper and lower jaws of the viperfish have long fangs that stick out, earning them the name “viperfish” and a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest teeth in relation to their size.
Their fangs can’t even fit inside their mouths; instead, they just curve back toward the fish’s eyes.
The viperfish has an 11–12 inch length and a range of colors, including black, silver, and green.
You can expect to find viperfish in tropical waters throughout the world at depths of up to 9,000 feet.
Let’s continue the conversation about bottom-feeders with the monkfish (Lophius), a species of flattened shark.
Even though this fish is well-known for being delicious, once you see that face, you may not want to order it again.
Monkfish are shaped like an arrow, have a flat appearance, and have a crazy overbite. They hide on the ocean floor, eat whatever they can fit in their mouths.
This one will be much simpler for those who are still unsure of the distinction between a frog and a toad. A frogfish (Antennariidae) is a colorful anglerfish that adapts to the shades of the environment, and they kind of look cool sometimes. But, despite their colorful appearance, they are still ugly.
Their short, thick bodies are covered in tiny thorns, and they can be found in tropical and subtropical waters, where they will eat anything that comes nearby. They are made even creepier by the fact that the male will kill their mate at random if they stay too long.
Wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) can be found from the shoreline of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to a depth of around 1,000 feet.
One of the reasons the wolffish made the list is because there is no order to their teeth; they go in every direction they please.
But one useful function of their teeth is to consume crabs, starfish, sea urchins, and other prey. They also have long, unusually shaped bodies.
10. Sea Pig
Sea pigs (Scotoplanes) are sea cucumbers with pink translucent bodies that manage to look both majestic and creepy at the same time. They can grow up to 6 inches in length and have 7 feet and 4 long dorsal papillae.
Their flesh is being eaten from the inside out by parasites, and their skin is covered in poison. Additionally, using their tentacles, they feed off decayed objects and dead animals they find on the ocean floor.
11. Goblin Shark
Goblin sharks (Mitsukurina owstoni) can grow to 12 feet in length and weigh around 460 pounds on average. These creatures dwell at the bottom of the ocean near the edge of a continent.
They have made the list because of their narrow snouts and fanglike teeth, which isn’t a very good combination. Goblin sharks can also thrust their jaws out of their mouths to devour their prey.
The sunfish (Mola mola), which can grow as tall as 10 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds, is the heaviest bony fish known to exist.
With their large eyes and tiny mouths, these enormous, flat creatures are pretty frightening when up close.
13. Spotted Handfish
The spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) is a rare Australian fish that prefers to walk on its hands rather than swim.
You can see why they were included on this list by taking a look at them. Their bodies are covered in spots, and they look like a fish and an iguana had a baby.
They grow up to 6 in long and are found in the southwest Pacific Ocean. They typically consume small shellfish, polychaete worms, and crustaceans. However, because starfish eat their eggs, these fish are in danger of going extinct.
14. Red-lipped Batfish
The red-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) also prefers to walk rather than swim. You can find these creatures near the Galapagos Islands and at a depth of up to 250 feet. They primarily consume crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish.
The batfish have made this list for a myriad of reasons. Their nose is placed in a strange part of their face, they have a patchy beard, and their lips make them seem sad all the time—smile more!
15. Frilled Shark
Last, but certainly not least, is another ugly creature named the frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus). The frilly appearance of this shark’s gill slits is how it received its name.
They resemble eels in length and color, among other characteristics, and you can find a frilled shark in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They have a reputation for gulping down their prey whole.
Like weird animals? Check out our guides to ugly birds, ugly insects, and ugly African animals.
These ugly fish are a special kind of ugly, but if you love to explore and don’t mind seeing these the ugliest fish along your journey, by all means.
Did I miss one? Which fish do you love the most? Let me know in the comments!
See our huge guide: 28 Ugliest Animals on Earth
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Hi, I’m Bryan Haines. And I’m a co-founder of Storyteller.Travel. I’m a traveler and photographer.
I also blog about photography on Storyteller Tech.