Aquarium owners who want to own the most impressive fishes would be thrilled and disappointed at the same time to know about the world’s most expensive fishes—even if one has the time and money to buy them, they’re not the easiest to acquire. Some are even bid upon, and some are prohibited in certain regions. Moreover, their diets can vary greatly and they might even need their own separate tanks.
Many of these fishes are carnivorous and have an elaborate diet, making them high-maintenance. The costliest fish costs about half a million dollars excluding the costs of maintenance, so it’s not a small feat to acquire it. Even otherwise, fishes are high-maintenance and require regular care and upkeep. Some even have to hire specialists to take care of the ecosystem of the aquarium. Even one unhealthy fish can cause trouble for all the other life-forms in the aquarium. Because of this, the price of this fish is made so high—there should be no shortcomings in the care of these fishes by the owners.
List of 10 Most Expensive Fish in The World
1. Platinum Arowana – $400,000
The Platinum Arowana is a freshwater fish, and in Asian culture, it is said to bring good fortune and wealth to its possessor, while negating misfortune and obstacles. Due to the widespread belief of its auspiciousness, it is priced at a whopping $400,000.
A genetic mutation renders the scales of the fish golden-white and when it shimmers in the light, it gives the effect of platinum. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful aquatic lifeforms.
Platinum Arowana is a rare and endangered species, and 183 countries have conceded to ban it in international trade. The US prohibits the import of this item completely. These fish are sold with microchips embedded within them, as well as certificates of ownership. The reason for this is to prevent its illegal sale, as well as keep a record of the wellbeing of the fish. The Platinum Arowana is especially hard to find due to the difficulty it has in spawning new fish.
The Platinum Arowana is a carnivorous fish, and feeds on tiny fishes, crustaceans, insects, and snails. The costs of maintaining it ride the price of keeping it even higher.
2. Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray – $100,000
The Polka Dot Stingray is a freshwater fish that presents in white, black, and brown. The design on its back is usually white polka dots over obsidian black with brown freckles. Considered a rare aquisition, it sells on the international market for $100,000. The Polka Dot Stingray is often confused with the Xingu River Ray, which is a freshwater fish found in the Xingu River, Brazil.
This stingray has a very unusual way of life—at night, it goes out hunting, and in the day, it conveniently uses the markings on its body to hide in the sand. The females tend to be bigger than the males and can reach a size of a foot and a half.
What makes it so high maintenance is the fact that it requires at least a 500-gallon aquarium. Due to its sheer size, the cost of maintaining the fish as well as the aquarium becomes a task in and of itself, even if you manage to get your hands on this beauty. Because of their high metabolic rate, they need to be fed twice a day to maintain their energy levels. Fish and aquatic invertebrates make up a large part of its diet. The Polka Dot Stingray may give birth to up to seven or eight young ones at a time, depending on the species.
3. Peppermint Angelfish – $30,000
The exquisite Peppermint Angelfish is currently priced at $30,000, and this price keeps rising every year. The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu has a specimen accessible for public viewing. Rumors have it that the aquarium was offered a sum even greater than $30,000, but it refused to give up the beauty.
The Peppermint Angelfish dwells in the tropical reefs of Rarotonga and Cook Islands, and can only be found at a depth of 300-400 feet. As a result of its timid character, this fish is usually found hiding behind the coral reef cliffs and rock outcroppings, which make it very inaccessible. The fish bears a striking if somewhat factitious resemblance to peppermint candy, hence, its name.
The Peppermint Angelfish has to be handled with extreme care as it requires a decompressed environment resembling its natural habitat. It measures a mere 1-1.5 inch in size, and requires a 130-gallon aquarium to thrive comfortably. If this was not enough, it often has to be paired with specific fish in the aquarium, and it takes much trial and error to arrive at the correct food for these fish—something that is nutritious and liked by them.
4. Masked Angelfish – $20,000
The Masked Angelfish is highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts due to its rarity and beauty. It can sell for over 20,000 dollars and is one of the world’s most expensive fishes.
The only place you can find this fish is the North-West Hawaiian Islands. However, the collection of these fishes for personal use is prohibited and punishable by fine. It may reach 8 inches in size upon completing adulthood. It has a monochrome appearance, and it almost looks surreal in the underwater sunlight.
An interesting fact about this particular fish is that it goes through various stages of sex during its lifetime—it starts out as a male and then matures as a female. The Masked Angelfish is primarily ivory in color, and has beautiful ochre fins at its pelvis, and black markings around its head and tail.
5. Bladefin Basslet – $10,000
The Bladefin Basslet qualifies as one of the most expensive fish around due to the sheer demand this fish has in the collector’s world. It is so revered that the price is driven up to even $10,000 at times. Even though it hasn’t been verified, it has allegedly been sold at a greater price on numerous occasions in the past. It typically appears in the reef areas, and is easy to spot due to its distinct appearance.
The fish is a rarity of the extreme nature, and even harder to catch: a submersible must make a trip 800 feet under seal level in Curacao to get a chance to find this fish.
The Bladefin Basslet is considered a tiny fish, measuring about an inch or so at adulthood. Don’t be fooled, however: these fishes require 50-gallon tanks to live comfortably. The name of this fish comes from the fact that the small fin near its mid-riff looks like a tiny pointed blade. This fish appears in a shade of cream, with vibrant red markings. It can appear orange even, at times. Surprisingly, it’s a carnivorous fish, feeding on tiny brine and mysis shrimp. To give the most comfortable experience to the fish, it’s best to build little nooks and crannies and attach little corals for the fish to snuggle into.
6. Golden Basslet – $8,000
The Golden Basslet, sometime called the ‘Golden Fairy Basslet’ or the ‘Golden Cuban Basslet’, is a vivid yellow fish, usually found in the reef areas of the Caribbean, and is localized to the Cuban area. It is usually identified through a black marking on its dorsal fin, and measures a meagre 3 cm at most. A variant of the Golden Basslet is the Platinum Basslet, wherein the purple coloring is replaced with metallic grey or white. Due to its rarity, it is priced at a mind-blowing $8,000, which seems almost too much given its occurrence and habitat, which is a little less high maintenance than the others on this list.
This fish has been in existence for about a century and a half, but gained prominence in the aquatic trade only around 2011. This fish has been confused with two other fishes of the same genus, Liopropoma. This fish requires a carnivorous diet, and a specific and unusual water condition: a pH of 7.8-8.4, which is quite high.
7. Clarion Angelfish – $7,000
The Clarion Angelfish are endemic to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and usually thrive in a reef environment 100 feet under sea level. The Clarion Angelfish are at a high risk of extinction, and are currently classified as vulnerable species. They appear either as solitary fish or in shoals.
The Clarion Angelfish has long since exited the aquarium trade after the Revillagigedo Islands, the region where they are found, was declared a protected habitat. The only specimens on sale are those which have been bred in captivity. Because of this fact, the price of this 7-inch beauty is listed at $7000.
The adult Clarion Angelfish will typically appear ochre in color, with bluish hues along its riff and its fins. Clarion Angelfish can usually be spotted during the daytime, which is when they’re most active. Their diet is quite elaborate with a variety of algae and sponges as well as tunicates and other tiny invertebrates, which make up most of their diet.
8. Neptune Grouper – $6,000
The Neptune Grouper, or the garish hind, is a marine water and deep-water species that are local to the Indo-Pacific region, though it has also been spotted as far out as Japan and Australia. The largest specimen ever found reached about 17 inches in length. It thrives at a depth of 260m under sea level.
While this fish can sell for upwards of $6,000, its price post mortem is a measly $50 in the local fish market. A juvenile was sold in Singapore at a steep price of $8,000. The reason for this is because it is not only rare, but also hard to capture alive as it has trouble adapting to the changing sea-pressure as it rises to the surface.
These fish have a tangerine body with faint white stripes. Notably, they have black marking near the base of the fin, blackish pelvic fins, and a black spot on the dorsal fin. This fish was first displayed in Japan in 2009. This fish simply does not appear on the markets, and is especially hard to acquire.
9. Wrought Iron Butterfly Fish – $3,800-$4,500
The Wrought Iron Butterflyfish factors in at 9th place with an average sale price of $3,800. This marine-water species is found around the Pacific coast close to Japan, at a depth of about 10-20 feet, and sports shimmery scales that look like chain-link armor.
It is extremely fussy about the water in which it dwells, making it difficult to domesticate. This fish is not very common in the aquarium-trade due to the temperature it requires, which is on the cooler side. It has a restricted distribution outside of Japan, where it is commonly found.
These fish prefer rocky reef areas where they can easily conceal themselves and feed on algae and other small invertebrates. They are quite sociable, and can appear in numbers as big as 10. When threatened, these fish may form a peculiar formation, called a “wrought-iron ball.”
10. Candy Basslet – $2,000
The Deepwater Candy Basslet is a small but extremely beautiful saltwater fish and while it ranks last on the list of most expensive fish, it definitely stands to contest the others in terms of its beauty. It appears in the Atlantic Ocean, in dense rocky areas. It appears to be glowing red, with beautiful horizontal lavender stripes running across its entire body. This tiny fish will size up to be about 1 or half inches, and at most, 2.5 inches. They are fairly easy to acquire.
Its diet includes tiny mysin shrimp and other crustaceans but it may begin to accept pellet food and flakes over time. They make fore ideal reef aquarium inhabitants as they are, for the most part, disease resistant, bold, vibrant, and small.
Though it is relatively peaceful, this tiny fish may threaten smaller life-forms, and can easily fit showpieces and crustaceans into their mouths. They are relatively shy initially and become bolder over time. Owners may keep in mind that a single individual may require at the very least a 10-gallon tank to live comfortably.