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30 Of the World's Most Beautiful Fish

Many of us can remember bringing home a goldfish and watching it swim around in its little fishbowl, mesmerized. Well, with all due respect to the beloved goldfish, the fish below can turn any simple aquarium into a spectacular display of colors and shapes, because these are some of the most beautiful fish in the world! These fish, some of which are extremely rare and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, are found all over the world, and in the following series, you can dive into the mysteries of the sea and watch the breathtaking beauty of nature with each of them.

1. Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

The Clown Triggerfish is one of the most spectacular fish of the family Balistidae because its body has a magnificent variety of spots in different colors such as black, yellow, white, and light blue. This fish with bright yellow lips prefers to live alone in its territory, meaning that in the vicinity of other fish, especially fish smaller than it, it can be aggressive. In nature, it often lives in the tropics of the Indian and Pacific Oceans and can grow up to 50 centimeters in length.

colorful fish Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

2. Bicolor Parrotfish (Cetoscarus bicolor)

This fish is somewhat reminiscent of the parrot, because of its thick, prominent lips that resemble a beak. With its beak's help, it nibbles on coral reefs, chews the little creatures inside, and spits out the leftovers of the inedible corals, meaning the way it eats isn’t so different from the colored bird. But this isn’t the most impressive thing about this fish, because the amazing colors are what makes it so beautiful. It is considered to be one of the largest aquarium fish, as it can reach a length of up to 1.2 meters.

colorful fish Bicolor Parrotfish (Cetoscarus bicolor)

3. Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)

It is not by chance that this fish has been named 'Emperor of the Generation' - it is one of the prettiest fish in the world thanks to the amazing color contrast on its body, which is composed of brilliant blues, dark blues, and whites. But these colors don’t stay that way for their whole life. When the fish reaches adulthood, after about four years, the colors arranged in the rings around its body change and are replaced with strips of yellow and blue, and two back spots around its eyes. This fish is found in various parts of the world near the shores of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba.

colorful fish Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)

4. Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)

The Picasso Triggerfish, a cousin of the Clown Triggerfish, is also present in the Gulf of Aqaba and other coral reefs along the Indian Ocean. This spectacular fish has an elliptical body, a large head, and a particularly powerful mouth that is designed to break oysters and shells. Although fish are thought to have weak long-term memory, the Picasso and other fish belonging to the Balistidae family can remember and learn from past experiences!

colorful fish Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)

5. French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Surprisingly, these impressive fish, with yellow scales that adorn their bodies, are edible and apparently quite tasty, so in some countries, you may find them for sale at fish markets. These fish are found in the Western Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the Caribbean, along the coasts of Mexico and Brazil, and can grow up to 40 centimeters in length.

colorful fish French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

6. Clownfish (Amphiprioninae)

You probably recognize clownfish as the species that stars in the movie Finding Nemo. Although the color palette most commonly associated with this fish is orange, white, and black, there are other colors of clownfish. The small fish, which usually grows up to eight centimeters long, travels in a school, with the dominant female who is responsible for breeding at the top of its hierarchy. 

colorful fish Clownfish (Amphiprioninae)

7. Zebrasoma (Zebrasoma)

Zebrasomas are best known for their complementary and harmonic colors: the hypnotic blue-purple color on their bodies and the bright yellow color at the tip of their tails make them the world's most sought-after and popular fish. However, these fish are also used as bait, thanks to the strong scent they secrete, which attracts other fish. In their natural environment, they are commonly found in the coral reefs of Japan, East Africa, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

colorful fish Zebrasoma (Zebrasoma)

8. Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)

These tiny and unique fish, decorated with long, curly fins, can be found only in one place in their natural habitat, namely the Banggai Islands of Indonesia. Because these fish are so beautiful and rare, they have become a very sought-after variety on the commercial fish market. As a result, and also due to their small initial population, these fish are in serious danger of extinction.

colorful fish Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)

9. Blueface Angelfish (Pomacanthus xanthometopon)

Of the Angel family, this species is the most colorful. It boasts many shades of blue and yellow, with its face, as its name suggests, colored blue. These fish are common in the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, especially in the shallows, and their size is also considered to be relatively large among the nautical fish (up to 35 centimeters). These magnificent fish have an exceptionally long lifespan of about 10 years and are considered to be even-tempered and pleasant. Therefore, they are also popular as domestic ornamental fish.

colorful fish Blueface Angelfish (Pomacanthus xanthometopon)

10. Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus)

The Idol, with its body as thin as a CD, is common in the Indian Ocean and near Japan and South Africa. The Moorish fish received its name from the African Muslims, also known as Moors, who believed that these fish would spread happiness to everyone on their path. Their beauty has made them a sought-after species among ornamental fish enthusiasts, but because these fish are delicate and sensitive, many of them can’t survive for long in aquarium conditions.

colorful fish Moorish Idol (Zanclus cornutus)

11. Pufferfish (Tetraodontidae)

Despite the amusing shape of these fish, pufferfish are among the most dangerous vertebrates in the world. Their thorns are full of a deadly nerve poison called tetrodotoxin. Some species of this fish are found in the Gulf of Aqaba, where the toxicity of the fish is high and therefore they are not hunted or eaten. On the other hand, in some Asian countries (like Japan, China, and Korea), this fish is considered a gourmet food, so many people consume it on a daily basis and put their lives in the hands of chefs who a trained to prepare the deadly delicacy.

colorful fish Pufferfish (Tetraodontidae)

12. Candy Basslet (Liopropoma carmabi)

These small and narrow fish, decorated with orange stripes throughout their bodies and black spots on their fins, are mainly found in the Caribbean and Indonesia, but because they are considered a very desirable breed for aquariums, they are artificially grown and traded en masse among the world's ornamental fish enthusiasts, despite their high price tag.

colorful fish Candy Basslet (Liopropoma carmabi)

13. Wrought Iron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon daedalma)

This butterflyfish is a rare ornamental fish with hypnotic silver scales and a bright yellow tail. The price for one can be as high as $2,000. The natural habitat of these small fish, whose maximum size can only reach up to 15 centimeters, is along the coasts of central and southern Japan, in the Western Pacific.

colorful fish Wrought Iron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon daedalma)

14. Sea Goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)

Decorated in bright colors such as purple, blue and green, this beautiful fish is considered one of the most impressive goldfish in the ocean, and is therefore named after gold. The males have a pinkish-red color and a long back fin in the front, whereas the female’s main color is orange with some yellow on their bottom halves. Diving enthusiasts can see this fish, which moves in large schools, in the coral reefs of the Red Sea in Aqaba, Australia, and Japan. This fish ranges between 7-15 cm in length.

colorful fish Sea Goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)

15. Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

This species is among the smallest ornamental fish you can find, with a body length of up to 5 centimeters. It was first discovered in 1822 in South Asia, near India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. This fish resides in places with stagnant water or weak currents such as lakes, streams, and brooks. Its bright scales, which look like little reflectors, exist for a reason. Because the visibility conditions in their natural habitat are not good, the fish use their scales to identify their family members.

colorful fish Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

16. Discus (Symphysodon

In Brazil's Amazon lives this beautiful fish, which prefers to hide in thick, dense vegetation, making it hard to find. The discus fish, named after its circular shape, is considered a popular commercial species, thanks to its amazing body shape and color, but mainly due to its comfortable and pleasant temper. Discus fish are considered intelligent and sociable and always move in large groups. A mature fish can grow up to 25 centimeters in length.

colorful fish Discus (Symphysodon) 

17. Lionfish (Pterois)

Nestled in the shadows of coral reefs, moving alone and lurking slowly and quietly, the Lionfish is one of the most spectacular but daunting fish among the beautiful creatures living in the ocean. This fish is predatory and belongs to the Scorpaenidae family. Along its body, you will see a large chain of thorns, each wrapped in a colored membrane, like the rest of its body. Each thorn is poisonous and very painful to the touch, though not usually deadly. Various types of Lionfish are found in the Pacific and the Red Sea, and they can grow up to 50 centimeters long.

colorful fish Lionfish (Pterois)

18. Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus)

Mandarin fish can certainly be considered the most beautiful fish in the world. This sea creature, also known as the mandarin dragon, has a small rounded body that is very visible because of its intense and hypnotic colors. The fish was named after the mandarin, the state minister in imperial China and in Vietnam, who wore magnificent robes. It lives in the Pacific Ocean near the coral reefs of Australia and the Ryukyu Islands, and despite its slow movement, it is difficult to locate this fish in nature because it often swims close to the bottom of the ocean floor.
colorful fish Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus)

19. Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula)

Queen triggerfish are quite large, reaching up to 60 cm in length. They sport a striking color palette of turquoise, purple, yellow, and blue that changes in different habitats. You can find these striking fish in the Atlantic, mainly in the west from Canada to Brazil, as well as in the Caribbean.
Colorful Fish Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula)
Image source: Flickr

20. Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)

Purple firefish are small and agile. They grow to be around 7 cm long, but that doesn’t stop them from being one of the prettiest fish out there. Their long white or yellowish bodies gradually turn pinkish purple closer to the fins. Firefish are native to the tropical waters of Indo-Pacific Asia.
Colorful Fish Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)
Image source: Reddit

21. Regal Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

This cute blue fish may seem familiar to you. That’s because Dori from the Disney animated movie Finding Nemo is a blue tang fish. The juxtaposition of a deep navy body and a contrasting yellow fin looks strikingly beautiful. These pretty fish live in the Indo-Pacific, and they are around 30 cm in length.
Colorful Fish Regal Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
Image source: Wikimedia commons

22. Cortez Rainbow Wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum)

Here’s a colorful fish few people are familiar with. The Cortez rainbow wrasse is found in the coral reef forests of the east Pacific – from Peru to Baja California, and the Galapagos Islands. You can’t mistake it for any other fish, as rainbow wrasses have a pink body with a bright yellow spot in the neck area. They also have a blue head and tail.
Colorful Fish Cortez Rainbow Wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum)
Image source: Wikimedia commons

23. Rusty Parrotfish (Scarus ferrugineus)

Few fish can compete with the vibrant color palette of the rusty parrotfish. Their blue-green bodies are marked with patterns in electric pink, neon green, and sometimes even orange, and they shift in the light. You can find these beauties in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Persian Gulf. They’re quite large in size too – up to 40 cm from head to tail. Certainly, it’s easy to see why they are considered one of the most beautiful fish in the world!
Colorful Fish Rusty Parrotfish (Scarus ferrugineus)

24. Six-Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)

The habitat of these tiny fish spans from the coral reefs off the coast of Japan all the way to East Africa. These teeny-tiny guys are violet with six orange stripes across their bodies. The tail is usually yellow, and the fins may have blue stripes. Six-line wrasses are known to be very shy, which is understandable given their small size.
Colorful Fish Six-Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
Image source: Flickr

25. Blue Lined Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes fuscus)

Young blue-lined triggerfish have one of the most intricate color patterns in the animal world. The entire brownish-beige body of juvenile blue-lined triggerfish is covered in squiggly blue lines. Sadly, the pattern shifts to solid blue when they reach adulthood. If you ever happen to dive in the Indian or Pacific Ocean and happen to see one of these fish, keep your distance. These fish are known for being territorial and aggressive – yes, even towards divers.
Colorful Fish Blue Lined Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes fuscus)
Image source: Flickr

26. Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)

Royal Grammas come from the Caribbean. These yellow and purple fish are commonly known as fairy basslets, and they’re very popular among aquarium owners. Apart from being colorful and tiny, royal grammas also have a calm temper, so they can easily get along with other fish species.
Colorful Fish Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)
Image source: Wikimedia commons

27. Psychedelic Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus)

These peculiar-looking fellas are related to the mandarinfish. They too come from the warm Pacific waters of Australia to the Ryukyu Islands and are similar in size. However, these fish have different color patterns. Psychedelic Mandarins have colorful spots and circles on their bodies that look almost like eyes. These fish have a pretty curious defense mechanism when attacked; their skin starts producing thick slime that repels predators or parasites.
Colorful Fish Psychedelic Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus)
Image source: Reddit

28. Coral Beauty (Centropyge bispinosa)

Coral Beauty is a species of angelfish from the coral reefs and lagoons of the Indo-Pacific. Unlike some angelfish species that grow up to 60 cm in length, coral beauties are rather small - barely 8 cm long. These fish are considered among the most beautiful fish in the world due to the stunning contrast created by their dark blue bodies and orange and red stripes.
Colorful Fish Coral Beauty (Centropyge bispinosa)

29. Halfmoon Betta Fish (Betta splendens var. Halfmoon)

You may be familiar with betta fish under their second name –  Siamese fighting fish. That nickname comes from a now-obsolete gambling culture when bettas would be used in fighting matches. Even though that tradition isn’t popular anymore, it tells you something about their temperament. Betta fish are fighters, which is why they are always housed alone when kept as pets. Their natural habitat is freshwater pools, such as rice paddies and canals, throughout southeast Asia. Both males and females come in many colors and long flowing fins.
Colorful Fish Halfmoon Betta Fish (Betta splendens var. Halfmoon)
Image source: Reddit

30. Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula)

The name of this angelfish alone is dramatic and memorable, and we would argue that it fits the animal that carries it very well. These pretty fish are from the coral reefs of Oceania and Hawaii. As the name suggests, the body of this species is fiery orange-red, and it’s dotted with black spots and stripes in the center. If you look closely, you’ll also see that the edges of each fin are tinted an electric blue. Like betta fish, flame angels are among the most sought-after and beautiful aquarium species in the world.
Colorful Fish Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula)
Image source: Wikimedia commons
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