From the fast-moving Yangtze River in China to the coasts of Northern New South Wales in Australia, rare and most expensive fish in the world can be found in freshwater and saltwater.
The most costly fish can fetch exorbitant prices that match their beauty and scarcity and are collected by everyone from casual hobbyists to billionaire superstars.
Continue reading to learn about the most expensive fish in the world that collectors are willing to purchase for their aquariums.
1. Wrought Iron Butterflyfish
The ray-finned fish known as the wrought iron butterflyfish, or Chaetodon, is one of the most expensive fish in the world.
It is native to the Pacific Ocean and is most frequently seen off the coastlines of Japan.
This gorgeous fish species is known for its gorgeous metallic shine and has mostly black colors, with vivid yellow stripes on the dorsal fin and caudal fin.
In its natural habitat, the wrought iron butterflyfish often travels in couples.
However, they are occasionally observed to form a ball of hundreds of fish when they gather to graze.
The wrought iron butterflyfish are little fish that can reach a maximum length of 15 centimeters.
They enjoy stony reefs because they can eat both invertebrates and algae there.
A wrought iron butterflyfish can cost up to $2,700 for fish breeders and collectors.
On websites for suppliers to aquarists, some medium-sized wrought iron butterflyfish command over $4,000.
The wrought iron butterflyfish’s price has also increased due to limitations on distribution outside of Japan and higher export expenses due to its inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
2. Australian Flathead Perch
The Australian flathead perch is another of the most expensive fish in the world on our list.
It is a tiny fish native to the waters of the Western Pacific Ocean and enjoys hiding in coral reef crevices.
The dorsal fins of the Australian flathead perch are yellow, and its flanks are marked with lilac stripes.
Collectors can buy aquarium fish from breeders like TAFE’s Batavia Coast Maritime Institute in Australia for about $5,000 per fish through the aquarium fish trade.
Since they frequently reappear in caverns before divers can detect them, capturing the Australian flathead perch in the wild can be challenging. Their slim profile makes escaping even simpler.
Like the wrought iron butterflyfish, the Australian flathead perch can reach lengths of under 15 centimeters (only a few inches), making it a suitable choice for collectors with rather little tanks.
Few of these pricey saltwater fish are kept in captivity, but costs may eventually decline due to the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute’s effective captive breeding program.
3. Golden Alligator Gar
Rivers worldwide are home to several kinds of alligator gar, with the golden alligator gar ranking among the most expensive fish in the world.
Golden alligator gars have been observed to survive in seawater, despite normally being freshwater fish that prefer huge rivers and lakes.
As their name suggests, these fish are bright gold and have long, sleek body that easily allows them to float through the water.
Fish collectors don’t need to worry about getting bitten when caring for their tanks because golden alligator gars are not aggressive fish despite having rows of razor-sharp teeth that give them their name.
Given that the golden alligator gar may grow up to 10 feet long and weigh an amazing 350 pounds, potential owners should make sure their tank is fit for these fish.
Alligator gar can sell for up to $7,000 because only one in 10,000 has this color, and the high tank capacity needed to keep one makes it even more pricey for aquarium fish collectors.
4. Platinum Alligator Gar
The platinum alligator gar is also one of the most expensive fish in the world.
The platinum alligator gar is another pricey freshwater fish, which sells for the same $7000 as its golden kin and is prized for its metal-colored scales and long, slender appearance.
The platinum alligator gar, with its torpedo-shaped eyes and sleek body, is frequently referred to as a “living fossil” due to its prehistoric appearance.
The snout is short yet broad, and platinum alligator gars have solid white enamel-like ganoid plates instead of the normal scales on other fish.
The end result is a body that is shockingly white and stunning to look at, whether swimming in its natural environment or a sufficiently large tank where it can exist without using other inhabitants as sustenance.
The platinum alligator gar is a long-term investment best suited to dedicated fish collectors with the resources to keep them secure. If properly cared for, they can live for up to 50 years.
Although these most expensive fish in the world are opportunistic predators in the wild, they are quite pleased to consume a variety of frozen fish, prawns, and prawns when raised in captivity.
5. Neptune Grouper
The Western Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Japan, the oceans surrounding French Polynesia, and the oceans surrounding Australia are just a few of the water bodies where the Neptune grouper can be found in the wild.
The Neptune grouper is a gorgeous addition to any saltwater aquarium thanks to its stunning combinations of orange and white stripes, accentuated by its deep body and spiny dorsal fin.
While possessing one of the most expensive fish in the world would cost collectors at least $7,000, these fish may find it difficult to adjust to variations in water pressure once they reach the surface.
This is because the Neptune grouper normally dwells at a depth of about 200 meters, which explains why so few of these species have ever been captured alive.
Because of their expensive cost and unique decompression methods needed to maintain them, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan, where the fish debuted in 2009, was where most people first saw them.
The asking price for a live Neptune grouper is $7,000, although they normally sell for less than $50 at food markets all around Japan if you’d rather eat one than buy one.
Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal created a whole aquarium with an Ancient Egyptian theme to house just one of these types of fish.
6. Bladefin Basslet
One of the most expensive fish in the world is the bladefin basslet, which is related to the golden basslet, another common aquarium fish.
Most of the Western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea are where you can find it.
Bladefin basslet fish can only be removed from wild populations using a submarine, which adds to the cost of $10,000 because they congregate at depths of more than 800 feet.
It is a little fish with bright white and red markings that interest fish collectors.
It normally reaches a maximum length of barely 3 cm. In fact, when measured by price per inch, the blade fin basslet is among the priciest aquarium fish in the world due to its small size and high asking prices.
The golden basslet, reported to have sold for over $8,000, and the caramel basslet, which costs fish fans $1,000 to add to their collection, are just two examples of other basslets that can fetch astounding amounts.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a bladefin basslet in your aquarium, you won’t have to worry about devouring your other fish because it’s a peaceful fish.
7. Masked Angelfish
The highly uncommon masked angelfish can be found in its natural habitat in and around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Collectors prize them for their stunning snow-white bodies.
Masked angelfish are only available to experienced collectors for $30,000, so if you can buy one of the most expensive boats in the world, you might be able to afford to have one of these most expensive fish in your tank.
The masked angelfish, frequently seen on coral reefs and protected from commercial fishing, is typically raised in aquariums in captivity.
Masked angelfish are protogynous hermaphrodites that gradually change from female to male, resulting in minute variations in the color of their eyes.
They are rather little fish that only reach a maximum length of a few inches, which is enhanced by the long streamers that grow on their caudal fin.
Because it love to live in deep waters at the outer boundaries of where divers can go, masked angelfish are harder to spot in their native habitat.
8. Peppermint Angelfish
As its name suggests, the peppermint angelfish is appreciated for the vivid red and white stripes that resemble candy, which helps to explain why it is the most expensive saltwater fish in the world.
Its body’s deep oval form allows its lovely stripes to shine out, and the dorsal and anal fins’ dazzling white borders serve as a framing.
The peppermint angelfish inhabits caves and reefs in the South Pacific Ocean and may reach depths up to 120 meters.
Worms, sponges, and other debris make up most of their food. Since specialized rebreather equipment is needed to descend to these depths to prevent suffering from the bends, only expert divers can access their habitat.
Because of this, bringing a peppermint angelfish to the surface requires careful maneuvering because it also needs to be decompressed to transition from deep waters safely.
Like clownfish, made well-known by the Pixar animated film “Finding Nemo,” peppermint angelfish are also shielded from the harm caused by industrial fishing.
A peppermint angelfish gathered for study on a Smithsonian Institute research excursion was sold to Waikiki Aquarium for $30,000 in 2012.
9. Polka Dot Stingray
The freshwater polka-dot stingrays live on the sandbanks and slower-moving tributaries of the Xingu River basin in Brazil, South America, and are among the most expensive fish in the world.
This 46-centimeter-diameter white-blotched river stingray has a smooth, dark-brown body and a tail with a poisonous spine.
Since these stunning fish spend much of their time buried in sand, hunting a freshwater polka dot stingray in the wild may be challenging.
However, collectors willing to pay a high price can buy rays raised in captivity.
Only the wealthiest athletes in the world can purchase freshwater polka-dot stingrays, which cost a cool $100,000, making them one of the most expensive captive-bred fish.
These invasive fish are listed as endangered, and potential pollution from nearby industries in their environment poses an additional threat to their survival.
The freshwater polka dot stingray, also known as Potamotrygon, is a very uncommon species.
King Leopold III of Belgium, who funded several studies through the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences, is credited with giving it its name.
10. Platinum Arowana
Platinum Arowana is next on our list of the most expensive fish in the world.
To a wide extent, the platinum Arowana, which sold for an astounding $400,000, has the highest price tag of any fish in the world.
The platinum Arowana, often known as the Asian Arowana due to its home in Southeast Asia, is also found along the coastlines of Australia and South America.
The platinum Arowana gliding through the water has a metallic iridescence because of its long, slender body and scales like dragons.
Additionally, they have a ravenous appetite and will eat anything, even mice, birds, and other fish, earning the moniker “monkey fish.” They are also known to jump out of the tank.
The most expensive fish in the world is an endangered species, as you might think, and only a few aquariums are known to have a captive platinum Arowana.
The Platinum Arowana Room in Scott’s restaurant, which houses precious works of art by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Joan Miró, is named after this unique fish because of its well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s most costly meals.
11. Tuna Bluefin
We have a definite winner regarding the most expensive fish in the world you can eat!
The bluefin tuna is currently the priciest edible fish on the planet. The bodies of these fish are huge, torpedo-shaped, and nearly circular in cross-section.
They consume a wide range of fish and invertebrates in their natural habitat, making up their varied diet.
Over 50 different species of fish have been observed by researchers to be consumed by them.
Bluefin tuna, Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus ), northern bluefin tuna, huge bluefin, or tunny are types of tuna fish that swim beneath the ocean’s surface.
At up to $5,000 a pound, bluefin tuna is the priciest fish you can eat in the entire globe.
12. American Eel
The northeastern coasts of North America are where you can mostly find American eels.
Baby American eels, known as “glass eels,” will be the second most costly fish to eat. These young eels resemble glass because of their translucent appearance.
American eels are quite small, growing to only about 3 inches long, and have an elongated, cylindrical body with long dorsal and anal fins but no pelvic fins.
Beyond the eyes is the wedge-shaped head, and a tiny gill cover farther down the body.
American eels can reach lengths of more than 4 feet as adults. The smallest babies, however, command the highest premium.
Many civilizations, including those in Japan, China, and Spain, consider American eels delicacy.
Although recreational fishermen in several coastal states can catch adult eels for personal use, and some states allow the capture and commercial sale of larger specimens, Maine has the largest and most lucrative American eel fishery in the United States.
Comparing American eels to the most expensive fish on our list, what’s most intriguing is that they’re not known for their flavor. In fact, the majority of people say they have no flavor at all!
However, these thin, snake-like fish continue to command a high price due to their scarcity.
Maine American eels in 2009 cost about $100 per pound. But by 2019, the price had risen dramatically to a whopping $3,000 per pound!
In addition to being one of the most expensive fish in the world to purchase, pufferfish also has a severe side effect: it contains poisons that might be fatal.
Because of this, less than 50 restaurants in the United States serve pufferfish.
These intriguing fish have a special defense mechanism that allows them to dramatically increase in size by adding water (and occasionally air) to their elastic stomachs.
Even some species of pufferfish have spines on their skin to ward off predators.
Pufferfish thrive in various marine habitats, including open waters, reefs, and coastlines. Even freshwater rivers contain some species.
Their main food sources are insects and algae. If the poisons are not properly eliminated during preparation, they can be fatal.
In reality, the poison has a four-hour death time limit. The third most costly fish you can eat is removing the poison fully, which is a difficult and specialized task that adds to the fish’s exorbitant price.
The fish must be prepared by a skilled fugu chef with outstanding knife skills and competence to prevent ingesting these harmful chemicals.
Be prepared to spend a lot of money if you want to try pufferfish. Sushi prepared from pufferfish can run you about $60 for one serving.
Additionally, the cost of a single pound of pufferfish might exceed $200!
14. Wild Alaskan King Salmon
Although Chinook salmon and Alaskan wild king salmon are technically the same species, they differ noticeably from one another.
While Alaskan wild king salmon are primarily derived from the pristine seas of Alaska, allowing them to grow larger and develop special traits, chinook salmon are often farm-raised or fished in the US.
Alaskan wild king salmon shares many physical characteristics with red king salmon, except its pearly white flesh and softer texture compared to the more prevalent red king.
The flavor of Alaskan wild king salmon has frequently been described as buttery and velvety, offering a very exquisite dining experience.
You catch most of the wild Alaskan king salmon you enjoy in the stunning waters surrounding Alaska.
These waterways encompass the Aleutian Islands, the Bering Sea, and the Gulf of Alaska.
Compared to typical farm-bred Chinook salmon, its wild-caught origin enhances its attractiveness and quality.
As a result, consumers are willing to pay more for the delicious wild king salmon from Alaska.
Many consumers prefer Alaskan wild king salmon to farm-raised Chinook salmon.
With Alaskan wild king salmon typically selling for $70 or more per pound, there is a huge price difference due to the great demand for Alaskan-caught Chinook salmon.
The long, blade-like projection that protrudes from the swordfish’s head is how it got its name.
Since ancient times, anglers have valued it for its tantalizing meaty filets and mild flavor, which food connoisseurs adore, as well as the excitement of the catch.
The swordfish can reach spectacular sizes, much like the most expensive fish in the world.
A typical swordfish can weigh up to 200 pounds, even if it may not grow to the tremendous size of tuna.
The Atlantic Ocean’s warm, moderate, and occasionally chilly waters are home to these wonderful species.
Swordfish cannot be raised in conventional fish farms because they require a lot of area and seawater to survive. It costs far more to maintain marine fisheries than terrestrial ones.
A shortage of swordfish obtained in the wild has also resulted from the demand for this exceptionally flavorful fish.
The cost of swordfish is almost $60 per pound, making it one of the most expensive fish in the world you can eat.
16. Yellowfin Tuna
At first sight, yellowfin tuna, often known as ahi tuna, would not seem like a particularly rare fish given the enormous global growth of the sushi industry.
However, this fish might be expensive if purchased from reliable fishermen who value quality.
The body of the yellowfin tuna is shaped like a torpedo and has bright yellow finlets and dorsal and anal fins.
Around the world, subtropical and tropical oceans are home to these wonderful species.
Due to its amazing size, mouthwatering flavor, and great market demand, yellowfin tuna costs more than other fish.
The transportation expenses needed to deliver this fish to customers may also affect the price.
Yellowfin tuna is used in many dishes, including sushi and fish patties.
They are a preferred option among seafood lovers due to their mild flavor. Yellowfin tuna normally costs $30 per pound on average.
17. Chinook Salmon
White bellies and silvery sides contrast with the silvery head.
Chinook salmon is frequently praised as the most delicious and best-tasting among the most expensive fish in the world because of its renowned superior flavor.
Chinook salmon grow and feed in freshwater streams, estuaries, and related wetlands during the early stages of their lives.
These amazing fish, which wander into the huge ocean as they age and engage in extensive foraging, eventually return to their natal streams for reproduction.
There are two main reasons why chinook salmon is one of the most expensive edible fish.
The first thing that sets them apart from other salmon species is their reputation for incomparable flavor, which provides a deep flavor experience that is hard to obtain elsewhere.
Furthermore, Chinook salmon are becoming harder to find due to the threat of overfishing.
They are more expensive than other anadromous fish that live in freshwater and saltwater environments because of their greater flavor and rarity.
Expect to pay around $30 per pound for farmed kinds of Chinook salmon if you want to indulge in its delicious flavors.
Halibut can swim sideways because of its distinctive flat, diamond-shaped body.
They may easily mix in with muddy or sandy seabeds thanks to the color on their upper side, which ranges from dark brown to mottled gray.
Halibut can grow to enormous sizes. For instance, Pacific halibut can weigh over 400 pounds, while their smaller Atlantic cousins weigh more than 300 pounds.
Halibut can be found across the temperate and polar waters of the northern Atlantic, where they can live in harmony with nature.
Halibut has established itself as one of the most expensive fish in the world thanks to its reputation for having a moderate, delightful flavor and pleasant texture.
But this increase in demand has raised the cost of halibut filets and made wild halibut harder to come by.
As a result, halibut costs more than fish with similar flavors, such as tilapia. A good estimate for enjoying the flavors of this superb saltwater fish is $30 per pound.
19. Dover Sole
The Dover sole steals the show as one of the most widely available varieties of sole fish, making it a preferred option among lovers of seafood.
Dover soles are notable for having a flat body shape and both eyes on the right side of their heads.
Compared to their size and dull coloring, their relatively small lips help them blend in on the ocean floor.
Dover sole prefers soft bottom habitats found in waters between 7 and 4,500 feet deep and typically lives close to the ocean floor.
Dover sole, a saltwater fish, has an unexpected flavor with its sweet flavor similar to beef or spiced chicken.
Because of its unique flavor profile, it stands out as the least “fishy” choice for seafood skeptics looking for a softer flavor.
Dover Sole’s high price is primarily due to its outstanding flavor. Additionally, the simplicity of preparation—often baked whole by chefs and home cooks—adds to its allure.
In general, other edible fish kinds are less expensive than Dover sole, which has a higher price of about $29 per pound.
Dover sole that is wild-caught is typically even more expensive than those that are farmed.
20. Sockeye Salmon
Prices per pound can reach $20. Salmon is ending our list of the most expensive fish in the world, with prices varying based on the exact variety.
Sockeye salmon is less expensive than other salmon species, yet it is still far from a cheap alternative.
This species is on the cheaper end of the pricing range without compromising the delicious taste.
Sockeye salmon has a distinctive appearance that is difficult to forget, especially when served whole. Its head is a startling shade of green in contrast to its body’s brilliant red scales.
This salmon species, renowned for its great flavor, is frequently smoked to bring out its inherent flavor.
Sockeye salmon depend on freshwater lakes, streams, estuaries, and related wetlands for their early development.
Wild-caught specimens frequently fetch greater premiums because they are larger than their farm-bred cousins.
The combination of high demand and transportation costs further raises the relative cost of this in-demand species.