Around 71% of the surface of the earth is covered with water, whether in lakes, rivers, seas, or oceans. 97% of that water is found in oceans, and according to estimations, more than 80% of the oceans remain undiscovered. These staggering statistics are concrete proof of how little we know of life underwater. We may not know much about the unmapped and unexplored deep depths of the oceans but so far, about 200,000 marine species have been recognized from the explored parts of the oceans around the world. This large number fades in comparison to the whopping 1.6 million undiscovered species that have been predicted to exist under the sea.
Since the oceans cover such an enormous portion of the earth, it is no surprise that worldwide about 34,800 species of fish have been described. This figure is greater than the combined total of all other vertebrate species: mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
Fish are diverse and fascinating species that can be found in a wide variety of eye-catching colors, shapes, and sizes. The largest fish ever recorded was 16.5 meters length-wise, while the smallest is just about 6 millimeters. Every fish has unique features to best help adapt to its surroundings.
If you want to know more about such eccentric fish from all around the world, you have come to the right place. Read on to get all the details on the 10 most adorable fishes out there.
Clownfish, more commonly referred to as ‘Nemo’ after the 2003 release of the hit Disney film ‘Finding Nemo’. These fish shot to popularity and are hands-down one of the most easily recognizable. Known for their distinctive bright orange and white striped appearance, Clownfish belong to the family Pomacentridae and can reach a maximum size of 4.3 inches in length. They are named for the kaleidoscopic sea anemone on which they dwell and make their homes.
There are 30 species of Clownfish that are found in warm waters, such as the Red Sea, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and in sheltered reefs or lagoons. They are social fish that live in groups of male fish with one dominant female and male, and a group of smaller males. Clownfish feed on various small invertebrates and algae as well as food scraps left behind by the sea anemone.
Fun fact: All Clownfish are born male, but they possess the unique ability to change their sex irreversibly.
Butterflyfish get their name because of their bright colorings and dark markings that closely resemble the wings of a butterfly. The unique and flattened bodies of these fish help them blend into the coral reefs they inhabit. There are at least 114 species of butterflyfish, and their average lifespan in the wild is seven years. These four-eyed fish are found among tropical reefs around the globe but are concentrated in the Indo-Pacific oceanic region. Butterflyfish feed on anthozoans, fish eggs, worms, and crustaceans.
Fun fact: The dark spots on the bodies of most butterflyfish serve as false eyes to help confuse predators.
Betta, also referred to as the “Siamese fighting fish” or “labyrinth fish,” are some of the most illustrious fishes you will ever find. There are more than 70 different types of bettas. These fish have been selectively bred for specific traits, including fin appearances, size, and pattern. They come in a variety of colors which include silver, red, purple, blue, sky blue, green, and white.
While these freshwater fishes originated in Thailand, where they were first domesticated almost 1,000 years ago. They are found in countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Wild bettas inhabit shallow, freshwater areas such as stagnant ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams. They can typically grow about 3 inches length-wise, while their usual lifespan is 2-5 years.
Fun fact: Betta fish are carnivores and hunt insects, larvae, and insect eggs from the water surface in the wild.
4. Manta Ray
Manta Rays are also referred to as “devil rays.” They are majestic and charismatic giants. These large rays measure up to 7m in width and can have a wingspan of up to 29 feet. These larger-than-life sea creatures live in tropical, subtropical temperate ocean waters across the globe and primarily feed on planktonic organisms such as larvae, shrimp, and small fishes.
Fun fact: These fish have the largest brain-to-size ratio of any other cold-blooded fish. The large brains of Mantas have specially developed specific areas for learning, problem-solving, and communicating. Mantas are exceptionally smart and may even be able to recognize themselves in the mirror.
5. Blue Tang
The Blue Tang is a small saltwater fish that inhabits the coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific and western Atlantic oceanic regions. These omnivorous fish eat tiny foods like marine algae, plankton, brine shrimp, bits of seaweed, and other smaller microorganisms. They use small, sharp teeth to nip and scrape algae off the coral reef. In their natural habitat, some species of blue tangs can live as long as 30 years.
Blue tang can grow up to 12 inches in length and weigh up to 21 oz. Juvenile blue tangs are bright yellow whereas adult blue tangs transform into a vibrant blue with only two spots of yellow on the fins and tail. These fish found fame after the hit Disney animated film “Finding Nemo” in 2003. One of the main characters “Dory” was a Blue Regal Tang and its popularity only grew with the sequel to the original movie named “Finding Dory.”
Fun fact: Blue tangs can also adjust the intensity of their hue from light blue to deep purple. Adult blue tangs possess the unique ability to modulate their color based on environmental conditions like stress.
The Parrotfish is a family of about 80 to 90 brightly colored species named for their unusual parrot-like beak. These tropical, kaleidoscopic fish are native to the Indo-Pacific oceans. They inhabit coral reefs, rocky coasts, and seagrass beds. They generally live about 5-7 years and grow to 1-4 feet length-wise.
Fun fact: Parrotfish are herbivores and spend about 90% of their day eating algae off coral reefs. The constant action of eating helps perform the vital task of cleaning the reefs. This keeps the corals healthy and thriving. Therefore, parrotfish play a significant role in bioerosion.
Seahorses are tiny fishes measuring about 11.8 inches or more, mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate saltwater across the globe. There are roughly 35 species of seahorse which inhabit seagrass beds, mangrove roots, and coral reefs. Their name comes from the unique shape of their heads, which closely resembles the shape of a horse head. Seahorses are known to mate for life. Their males bear the young while the females prepare more eggs.
Seahorses not only look different from other kinds of fish but are also very poor swimmers and are the slowest-moving of all fish species. They have an extremely tiny fin in the middle of their backs, which is the only way they can propel themselves, forwards. They make great pets and can become relatively tame.
Fun fact: Seahorses are also the only fish species that can hold your hand!
Mandarinfish, also known as mandarin dragonet, gets its name from the very striking coloration of its body, the pattern and colors of which closely resemble the robes of an Imperial Chinese Mandarin. These small fish only reach about 3 inches in length. Mandarinfish are distinctive due to their unusual shape since they have broad but depressed heads. They can be found in the Western Pacific- from the Philippine Islands to the Great Barrier Reef.
Mandarinfish dwells among coral or in shallow protected lagoons and inshore reefs at depths of 3-60 feet, where they eat small crustaceans such as copepods and amphipods.
Fun fact: Unlike most fish species, the Mandarinfish has slimy skin coated with mucus. It also has spines that produce toxins to help fend off any predators.
Angelfish, also referred to as scalares, are known for their brightly colored and exotically patterned bodies. Angelfish get their name because of their shape – their fins appear like angel wings and they have a silhouette of an angel when turned head-down. These fish have a body that is taller than it is long. They are found in coral reefs of the shallow waters of the Indian, Atlantic, and western Pacific oceans.
There are 90 species of marine angelfish, and they can live up to fifteen years in the wild. Marine angelfish are found in many colors, including black and yellow or blue and yellow. Angelfish are omnivorous fish that feed on algae, sponges, and occasionally small crustaceans.
Fun fact: Angelfish have distinct personalities; they can be aggressive and territorial in the presence of food, mates, or eggs. More often than not, they are peaceful and intelligent fish that are able to recognize the people who feed them.
Guppies are also referred to as million fish or rainbow fish. They are one of the most popular and widespread fish species worldwide. These tropical fish are native to the warm waters of the coastal streams of northeast South America. Guppies live in slow-moving streams, lakes, rivers, and canals, and can grow to an average of 2 inches long.
Guppies exhibit fission-fusion social behavior, where these fishes frequently leave and join new shoals over short time frames. They feed on soft algae and insect larvae. Guppies are the ideal, low-maintenance aquarium fish that are hardy, energetic, and prolific. They are generally very friendly and get along amicably with many types of fish. These fish will be happy with a clean tank and food.
Fun fact: Guppies are livebearers meaning these fish give birth to live, viable, free-swimming young instead of eggs that need time to mature.