A-z - Animals

Top 10 Most Expensive Fish

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key point:

  • Fish collected for an aquarium can range from cheap to more expensive than at home.
  • Unique, even misshapen fish sell for more than their common counterparts.
  • The most expensive fish is the endangered one, which can be purchased for over $400,000.

There are several criteria to consider when narrowing down the most expensive fish. While sharks and tuna typically fetch high prices, both fish are typically sold as food rather than for aquarium use, and prices fluctuate more. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on those fish that are sold as pets.

Another consideration is the usual price of the animal, not the highest ever. For example, while a polka-dot stingray sold for $100,000, it was only because of its unusual U-shaped head; typically, a polka-dot stingray only sells for around $1,500, so It won't make the top 10. Likewise, the peppermint angelfish would not make the list, even though the aquarium offered $30,000 for their specimen because the aquarium refused to sell it. Now let's see which pet fish's regular prices do fit the bill!

#10 Most Expensive Fish: Clarion Angelfish

most expensive fish horn angelfish
Juvenile trumpet angelfish (Holocanthus clarionensis) hiding on a rocky reef in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.

©Allison C Bailey/Shutterstock.com

First on our list is Clarion Angelfish. Found mostly off the coast of Mexico, this beautiful saltwater specimen is bright orange with electric blue streaks. Their maximum length is about eight inches. The conservation status of Clarion Angelfish is Vulnerable. At around $2,500, most people already consider this a pretty expensive fish, but we're just getting started!

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#9 Most Expensive Fish: Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

Most Expensive Fish: Wrought Iron Butterflyfish
Wrought Iron Butterflyfish at the Dallas World Aquarium. The wrought iron butterflyfish, found only around the Izu Islands in Japan.

©William Cushman/Shutterstock.com

In ninth place is the wrought iron butterflyfish. Native to Japan, the animal is named for its unusual metallic appearance, which looks like a cross-hatched iron fence. The Iron Butterflyfish is not as colorful as other species of butterflyfish, with the only bright color being the pale yellow on the tail and hind half. The pets sell for $2,700.

#8 Most Expensive Fish: Flathead Bass

Flathead bass live in Australia's coral reefs and can cost around $5,000 to own. These perch are also known as Rainfordia opercularis . Their coloration is very striking when young and fades to blue and yellow stripes from the muzzle to the tail as they mature. They can grow up to about six inches in length.

#7 Most Expensive Fish: Neptune Grouper

Most Expensive Fish: Neptune Grouper
Deep sea grouper species Cephalopholis igarashienisis, Garish Hind or Neptune grouper.

© John E. Randall / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – Licensed

Neptune Grouper Cephalopholis igarashiensis is known by several other names, including piebald sea spot, gold bar grouper, and Japanese cod. One of the reasons for the grouper's $6,000 price tag, aside from its rarity, is its unique color, or pinkish-orange and yellow, with white stripes and black spots. Another reason is that they are difficult to capture alive, as they can easily die from rapid decompression. These groupers can grow up to 17 inches long and live up to 30 years!

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#6 Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Alligator Gar

Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Alligator
Platinum alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) in water. It's not albino because the eyes are black instead of red.

©Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com

One of the only freshwater fish on this list is the platinum alligator gar. Overfishing has reduced their habitat, so they are mostly found in the southern United States and parts of Mexico. These grayish alligator gars, which can grow up to 10 feet long in the wild, sell for about $7,000, though some sell for about three times that.

#5 Most Expensive Fish: Golden Alligator Gar

Like its platinum cousin, the Golden Alligator Gar costs around $7,000. They usually grow to around six feet in the wild and are a bright golden yellow. Only about one in 10,000 alligator finches have this rare golden color. Although their teeth are very sharp, they pose no danger to humans unless someone consumes their poisonous eggs.

#4 Most Expensive Fish: Golden Perch

In fourth place is another golden animal, the golden perch. They are found near Cuba. Unlike other basses, the gold is not primarily purple, but a distinct golden-orange color with some purple and black markings. This is the second smallest entry on our list, as they grow to less than three inches. Owning one will set you back $8,000, or nearly $3,000 per inch!

#3 Most Expensive Fish: Saberfin Bass

Rounding out our top three is the knife-fin bass found in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the smallest animal on our list. Bladefins are only about an inch and a half long. These orange-and-white-striped bass can fetch up to $10,000 each, and they're the only species in the Jeboehlkia genus.

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#2 Most Expensive Fish: Masked Angelfish

Most Expensive Fish: Masked Angelfish
Masked Angelfish (Genicanthus personatus). It is one of the most beautiful and very expensive marine fish.

©chonlasub woravichan/Shutterstock.com

In second place is another fish, this time the masked angelfish. The name comes from the colored markings around their eyes, which can be yellow, black or purple depending on the type. They are found in the depths of Kauai, Hawaii. Because they live deep in the ocean, they used to be hard to come by, but now they're in captivity, and you can buy one of these specimens for as little as $8,000 or as high as $20,000. 20 of the priciest animals in there cost as much as one of the most expensive animals on our list!

#1 Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Arowana

Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Arowana
Swimming Platinum Arowana. They are excellent jumpers and can leap 5 feet out of the water.

© Besjunior/Shutterstock.com

The Platinum, also popularly known as the Asian Arowana or Scleropages formosus and sometimes erroneously called the Arowana, can fetch upwards of $400,000, making it the most expensive fish an aquarium can buy. Here are some facts about Platinum that may interest you:

  • Asian arowana is listed on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix I, making international trade in this fish illegal.
  • In the 70's the Asian dragon fish was widely eaten and the species became endangered due to overfishing and loss of natural habitat
  • Asian arowanas can live up to 60 years in captivity, and even longer in the wild.

These endangered animals are effectively banned in the United States. Platinum coloring is the rarest variety. They can grow up to three feet in length.

fish smuggling

Having these extravagant fish seems like a great addition to any home aquarium. However, the price paid for these fish far exceeds their monetary cost. Many of these fish are rare, threatened or even endangered species that are caught illegally and smuggled across countries to be sold to buyers. Fish smuggling further depletes natural stocks, leaving ecosystems impoverished and unbalanced. An unbalanced environment leads to further destruction and loss of habitat, reducing the population of other fish species in the area and disrupting the food chain. Endangered species are becoming more common, driving up the price of these fish and making them more attractive to exotic collectors. This cycle is vicious and endless unless stopped at the source: the buyer.

Summary: The 10 Most Expensive Fish

rank fish Price (USD)
1 Platinum Arowana $400,000
2 masked angelfish $20,000
3 knife fin bass $10,000
4 Kim Beslet $8,000
5 Golden Alligator Gar $7,000
6 Platinum Alligator Gar $7,000
7 Neptune Grouper $6,000
8 flathead bass $5,000
9 Iron Butterflyfish $2,700
10 horn angelfish $2,500

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most expensive fish

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about the author


Lex is a green, tree-loving animal lover and mother of 21 felines and a dog. Now, she helps pet owners around the world become the best caretakers for their most trusted pets by sharing her experiences and spreading love.

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