Top 20 Fish With Ugly Teeth (With Photos)


Fish may be some of the most colorful, elegant, and beautiful creatures on earth, but this doesn’t apply to all of them. In fact, there are many fish out there that our downright terrifying!

In this article, we’re taking a break from the wonderful world of aquarium pets to look at the dark side of the world’s scariest fish with ugly teeth. So get ready, it’s going to get ugly!

Why Do Some Fish Have Ugly Teeth?

Fish use their teeth to eat their food, just like we do. However, these creatures don’t have little fingers and thumbs to pick up a knife and fork like us, so they rely on their dentition for pretty much everything.


Many fish simply swallow their food whole, but others need to chew through tough shells or bite large meals into smaller chunks before they can swallow.


Some fish don’t need their teeth for eating but rely on them for catching their prey. Bluefish use their razor-sharp teeth to bite the tails of their prey so they can’t escape.

Other species like the payara fish have longer, needle-shaped teeth that can impale their prey, causing serious injuries but also trapping them between their jaws.

Top 20 Fish With Ugly Teeth

There are between 32,000 and 35,000 fish species1 in the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes and all of them are extraordinary creatures. However, we’ve narrowed them down to just 20 remarkable examples for this list.

Ready to meet some of the world’s ugliest toothy fish? Prepare to be amazed!

1. Payara

Vampire Fish
  • Scientific name: Hydrolycus scomberoides
  • Origin: Amazon basin, South America
  • Size: 12 to 36 inches and up to 40 pounds

Also known as the vampire fish or the dogtooth tetra, the Payara is actually a species of tetra fish, although it’s a whole lot meaner than your average neon!

Payara fish have terrifying teeth on both the upper and lower jaws, but the fangs on the lower jaw are so long that they need special holes in the upper jaw just to close their mouth.

These fearsome South American fish eat piranhas for breakfast in their natural habitat, but they can actually make pretty peaceful tropical aquarium fish in the right setup.

2. Frilled Shark

  • Scientific name: Chlamydoselachus anguineus
  • Origin: Oceans from 160 to 5,150 feet
  • Size: 5 – 6.6 feet

The frilled shark is an elongated, eel-shaped shark that hunts in deep ocean waters. These ugly fish species have large green eyes and a huge mouth filled with about 50 rows of formidable backward facing teeth.

These strange and ugly teeth are used to grasp their prey. Any unfortunate squid, fish, or small shark gripped between those teeth has little chance of escape against the Frilled Shark! (video source)

3. Atlantic Wolffish

Atlantic Wolf Fish
  • Scientific name: Anarhichas lupus
  • Origin: North Atlantic Ocean
  • Size: up to 5 feet and nearly 40 pounds

The Atlantic Wolf fish is large fish that lives at the bottom on rocky seabeds. These ugly fish live in caves and use their powerful teeth to crush crabs, clams, sea urchins, and other hard-shelled prey.

In case you were wondering, people have little to fear from these ferocious-looking ugly fish species, and they are actually popular in seafood restaurants.

4. Sea Lamprey

Sea Lamprey
  • Scientific name: Petromyzon marinus
  • Origin: Northern & Western Atlantic Ocean, US Great Lakes, and Connecticut Basin
  • Size: Up to 4 feet and 5 pounds
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The sea lamprey is a primitive, eel-like fish with a creepy way of feeding. These jawless ‘dracula fish’ latch onto other fish with their toothy disc-shaped mouths and eat their prey alive!

These boneless creatures found their way into the American Great Lakes in the 1800s and really took their toll on native fish like the lake trout. Fortunately, the situation is now under control as scientists have developed a poison called lampricide to kill the lamprey larvae before they can go to become full-grown killers.

5. Blobfish

  • Scientific name: Psychrolutes microporos
  • Origin: Pacific Ocean off the Australian Coast
  • Size: 12 inches

So the blobfish doesn’t have any ferocious fangs, but these hideous bottom-dwelling fish just had to make this list!

To be fair, the gelatinous appearance of the blobfish is actually the result of the low air pressure in our atmosphere. You see, these deep sea fish live at crushing depths of over 3000 feet and bringing them up to the surface really changes their features.

6. Goblin Shark

  • Scientific name: Mitsukurina owstoni
  • Origin: Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans at 330-4,720 feet
  • Size: 10 to 13 feet

The goblin shark is one of the coolest (and ugliest) fish species in the world. These strange creatures have a long nose and extendable jaws lined with nail-like teeth (video source).

The goblin shark is a slow-moving species that feeds on other deepwater fish, squid, and crustaceans. They are not considered dangerous to humans, although I know I wouldn’t want to come face to face with one of these scary sea creatures!

7. Northern Stargazer

  • Scientific name: Astroscopus guttatus
  • Origin: East Coast of the USA
  • Size: 22 inches

The northern stargazer is an alien-looking fish with ugly teeth that lives off the northeast coast of the United States. Check out the video above from Animalogic to see how scary these fish are! These fish live down at the bottom of the ocean where they bury themselves into the substrate with their upward facing eyes and mouth ready to spot and then capture their prey.

As if their hideous appearance wasn’t strange enough, these ugly fish species also have an electric organ in their head that can shock potential predators!

8. Sheeps Head

Sheeps Head Teeth
  • Scientific name: Archosargus probatocephalus
  • Origin: East Coast of North America
  • Size: Up to 30 inches

The Sheepshead is an attractive saltwater fish that lives along the East Coast of the United States. These striped fish are popular with fishermen, although many are surprised to see their human-like teeth!

Sheepshead fish have a row of incisors on their top jaw that look just like ours. They also have many rows of powerful molar teeth on their top and bottom jaws for crushing crustaceans, mussels, and other hard-shelled sea creatures.

9. Anglerfish

Deep Sea Female Angler Fish
  • Scientific name: Lophiiformes
  • Origin: Mostly Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans
  • Size: 2 to 40 inches

Angler fish are one of the world’s weirdest fish, more like a sci-fi monster than something you’d expect to see in a fish tank! These deep-sea fish species live on the ocean floor in complete darkness and have a very clever way of catching a meal.

Anglerfish have a long modified fin that extends from their nose to above their mouth. The end consists of a small glowing lure that attracts small fish into striking range of its fang-like teeth.

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10. Sarcastic Fringehead

  • Scientific name: Neoclinus blanchardi
  • Origin: West Coast of the USA
  • Size: 12 inches

The sarcastic fringehead is an interesting little ugly fish species that lives from 10 to 240 feet deep in the waters from California to Mexico. These territorial fish make their homes in small caves and even discarded trash like glass bottles.

The male fringehead is not something you want to mess with. This little bad boy lunges at any trespasser that approaches his lair with a truly huge mouth, complete with loads of needle-like teeth! Just check out the thumbnail in the video above by MaverickDiving. It’s a creepy site!

11. Alligator Gar

Alligator Gar
  • Scientific name: Atractosteus spatula
  • Origin: Southeast of the USA
  • Size: 6 to 8.5 feet

The alligator gar is America’s second-largest fish, and probably its toothiest. These prehistoric monsters use their large, alligator-like mouths and sharp teeth to catch other fish and even waterfowl!

They have other strange adaptations such as large, super tough scales, and a lung-like swim bladder that allows them to survive in oxygen-poor waters by breathing air from the surface.

12. Great White Shark

Great White Shark in Ocean
  • Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias
  • Origin: Widespread in Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Size: 11 to 19 feet

The Great white shark must be the world’s most terrifying fish. Found in all major oceans, these misunderstood and dangerous fish are occasional maneaters, although they much prefer to snack on seals, turtles, and other sharks.

Great white sharks have about 50 razor-sharp serrated teeth exposed in their mouths at any time, but they constantly shed old teeth and replace them with new ones. In fact, these apex predators can go through over 20,000 chompers in a single lifetime!

13. Black Piranha

Black Piranha Swimming
  • Scientific name: Serrasalmus rhombeus
  • Origin: Northeast of South America
  • Size: 13 to 16 inches

The black piranha is one of the largest piranha species and can reach over 6 pounds. Adults from some waters are jet black, but young fish tend to be silvery with mottled skin.

These toothy critters are omnivores and use their terrifying teeth to eat everything from fallen fruits to smaller fish.

The black piranha has an incredibly strong bite for its size too. Research has shown that these fish can bite down with a force of over 70 pounds – three times more than their body weight!

14. Goliath Tigerfish

Goliath Tigerfish
  • Scientific name: Hydrocynus goliath
  • Origin: Congo river basin, Africa
  • Size: 5 feet and 150 pounds

The goliath tigerfish is an apex predator that embodies speed and strength, although its massive teeth and powerful jaws are just plain ugly!

In fact, their scientific name literally means goliath water dog, and it’s easy to see why. These ferocious fish hail from Central Africa and make their living out of terrorizing other freshwater fish.

15. Great Barracuda

Barracuda Fish in Ocean
  • Scientific name: Sphyraena barracuda
  • Origin: Warm waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Size: 2 to 5 feet and up to 100 pounds

The Great Barracuda is another notorious fish with big teeth and a mean attitude. Barracudas are one of the most ferocious ugly fish on the reef and they can reach an impressive speed of 36 miles per hour when pouncing on their unsuspecting prey.

Fortunately, attacks on humans are very rare, and probably only happen in poor visibility or when the fish attempt to steal from spearfishermen. Nevertheless, this is definitely one fish you don’t want to mess with!

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16. Sloane’s Viperfish

  • Scientific name: Chauliodus sloani
  • Origin: Deep waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans
  • Size: 12 inches

Imagine a fish crossed with an alien and a venomous snake. Now take a look at the scary sea creature that is the Sloane’s Viperfish. Not far off right?

This must be one of the ugliest fish in the world, but it’s also a remarkable predator, with the ability to unhinge its jaw and open its mouth a full 90 degrees!

They have massive teeth too, and they can take prey more than half their own body size. Fortunately, these living fossils grow to just a foot long, so we have little to fear.

17. Northern Pike

Pike Fish Teeth
  • Scientific name: Esox lucius
  • Origin: Widespread in Northern Hemisphere including North America, Europe, and Asia
  • Size: 5 feet and 60 pounds

A powerful predator lurks in lakes and rivers across the Northern Hemisphere. The Northern Pike is popular with fishermen because of the way it aggressively strikes into their baits, and to be fair, these fish do have beautiful markings and camouflage.

Pike are top predators, with huge mouths full of razor-sharp teeth. They hunt everything from frogs to fish, and even water birds! There’s little chance of escape once those ugly teeth sink in, and these fish swallow prey whole.

18. Deep-sea Fangtooth

  • Scientific name: Anoplogaster cornuta
  • Origin: Worldwide in deep temperate and tropical waters
  • Size: 7 inches

Looking back over this list you might agree that the deep sea is home to some of the ugliest fish in the world. If the blobfish, angler fish, and Sloane’s Viperfish aren’t proof enough, there’s one more spooky deep sea creature with big teeth you need to meet.

The fangtooth fish has the largest teeth relative to its own body, and these natural predators know how to use them too. These miniature killers stay down deep during the day but migrate into shallower water at night to prey on any fish or squid small enough to swallow.

19. Titan Triggerfish

Titan Triggerfish Closeup
  • Scientific name: Balistoides viridescens
  • Origin: Indo-Pacific reefs down to about 160 feet
  • Size: up to 30 inches

Titan triggerfish are strange and interesting tropical reef fish from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These fish have big, mean-looking teeth that they use to bite through tough food like sea urchins and coral.

They can be aggressive too, and some territorial females have even bitten unwary divers that approach too close to their nest.

20. Wolffish (Giant Trahira)

  • Scientific name: Hoplias aimara
  • Origin: Northern South America
  • Size: Up to 47 inches and 88 pounds

The giant trahira is a large ambush predator with some serious jaws. These dark brown freshwater fish hang out among tangled tree roots and rock piles, just waiting for a small animal to fall into the water or an unwary fish to pass by close to its huge head.


Final Thoughts

So there you have it, twenty of the world’s ugliest toothy fish. To be fair, each of these incredible creatures is awesome and beautiful in its own way. Still, you might want to check out a few of our other fascinating articles first if you’re getting ready for bed – we don’t want anyone having nightmares!

Which species do you think is the ugliest fish? Share your choice in the comments below!