Fish keeping is practiced by countless aquarists around the world. Not only are they fun to look at it through the glass, but the hobby itself can have profound benefits on health, such as the reduction of stress.
When it comes to aquarium inhabitants, there are many to choose from—for instance, you can keep a common goldfish or even a clownfish; there’s just one catch, the latter would be more expensive as it’s somewhat a rarer species.
From that alone, it’s easy to see how the hobby can become quite costly. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some serious collectors to pay big money for rare, hard to find fish. Curious to know what some of the world’s most expensive fish species are? If so, you’re in for a treat—for we’ll be going over ten of them below!
#10: Candy Basslet – $1500
Known for its striking purple and yellow patterns, there’s no doubt that the Candy Basslet is a highly attractive fish. Native to the deep waters, it is one of 23 species in the Liopropomini subfamily. Small and hardy (they generally grow to a maximum size of 2 1/2 inches), they are generally easy to keep for hobbyists. An ideal choice for coral reef aquariums, their diet mainly consists of crab and shrimp—though they’ll readily eat anything that can be fit into their mouths.
For those who are wanting to add the Candy Basslet to their tanks, the fish tends to go for ~$1500 each.
#9: Clarion Angelfish $3000
Native to the coast of Mexico, the Clarion Angelfish bears a vibrant orange color, with blueish purplish highlights. A species of the Pomacanthidae family, its spectacular patterns makes it a popular choice for marine aquariums. Active during the day, they tend to eat algae, and other small invertebrates found in the water.
Found singly or in pairs in the wild, they can easily grow up to 20 cm in length. Highly territorial, it’s said that they make a loud drumming noise when alarmed. A valuable fish, one can easily set you back $3000.
#8: Wrought Iron Butterflyfish – $3500
Endemic to Japan, the Wrought Iron Butterfly Fish is noted for its metallic look and yellow highlights on its dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. An inhabitant of clear waters, they tend to be found more than 10 meters deep in the wild. A peaceful species, their diet mainly consists of tube worms and clams.
Closely related to Angelfish, these fish revel in swimming and require good hiding spots such as between live rocks. Rarely exported out of Japan, they are occasionally kept in captivity by hobbyists. If you want to add this rare species to your aquarium, you have to be willing to shell out a few thousand dollars.
#7: Australia Flathead Perch – $5000
Small and colorful, the Australian Flathead Perch is mainly found in the coral reefs around Western Australia. A member of the Rainfordiidae family, its elusive habits makes it extraordinarily rare in the fish trade. In fact, the species has only ever been sold in the United States a handful of times—for prices of around $5000. Even in museum collections, the Flathead Perch is relatively rare. First described in the early 1920’s, many reef keepers can only hope of seeing one.
#6: Neptune Grouper – $6000
A deepwater fish, the Neptune Grouper is noted for its hot pink body and vibrant yellow bands. Highly prized, they are almost never available for sale—this is due to the fact that they favor depths of at least 130 meters (i.e. almost none are found in shallow waters).
When the fish is available on the market, however, it is more often than not sold as food— interestingly enough. The last time that a Grouper was sold, it went for over $6000.
#5: Golden Basslet – $7000
A smaller member of the grouper family, the Golden Basslet can be found in the deep waters of the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. While they can be kept in captivity, it’s rare to find as they must be carefully collected using a deep-sea submersible. Very shy in nature, they prefer swimming in a spacious area with plenty of hiding spots such as caves and rocks.
Known for its golden yellow color and orange out linings, they are known to swim upside down from time to time. With all difficult they are to collect from the wild, it’s no wonder why they have such an exorbitant price tag of $7000!
#4: Bladefin Basslet – $10,000
Mostly found in the Caribbean, the Bladefin Basslet Fish is named for its funny blade-like dorsal fin. Small and cute, it is known for its remarkable red and white colored stripes. Like most deepwater fish, the basslet is extremely difficult to collect as it lives at an incredible depth—of more than 150 meters!
At just about 3cm long, this little guy is one of the most expensive fish available for the aquarium hobby. Unless you’re willing to spend some cash, however, it’ll be hard to add him to your tank as they easily go for thousands of dollars.
#3: Peppermint Angelfish – Over $30,000
An inhabitant of tropical reefs, the Peppermint Angelfish has been found at depths of over 100 meters in the Pacific. Striking with its orange and yellow stripes, it is highly sought after by serious collectors for its stunning coloring.
Relatively shy, it tends to spend most of its time hiding amongst rubble and rocks. Occasionally kept in captivity, the species easily fetch high prices when it is offered for sale. For instance, a single specimen was once sold for $30,000!
#2: The Polkadot Stingray – Over $100,000
Unlike most of the fish that we’ve listed above, the Polka Dot Stingray is unique in that it resides in freshwater. Also known as the Xingu River Ray, the species has a spotted, black body while its underside is a white to light grey color. Like most stingrays, they also have a robust tail at the tip, which is capable of inflicting pain.
Endemic to the Xingu River in Brazil (thus its name), the Polkadot Stingray has protruding eyes which allow for keen eyesight. A bottom dweller, they tend to bury themselves during the day and hunt for food—such as crabs and snails at night.
As imposing as they are, however, finding one for your aquarium will be difficult as they tend to go for over $100,000—that is when they are available for sale.
#1: Platinum Arowana – Over $300,000
Often considered the most expensive fish in the world, the Platinum Arowana owes its exorbitant price to its gorgeous shape and vivid, red color. An auspicious symbol, they are thought to bring good luck and prosperity as they bear a close resemblance to the Chinese ancient dragon.
Virtually depleted from the wild in the recent years, most of the Arowana today are bred in high-security facilities complete with nestled walls and watchtowers—as to protect them from fish bandits.
Extremely rare, only a handful have been legally sold over the past several years. At one point, one of these ghostly mutants was sold for over $300,000. Unfortunately for those in the United States, the Arowana is protected by the Endangered Species Act and cannot be brought into the company as a pet.
…and there we have it. As you have probably noticed, most of the above-mentioned fish reside in saltwater. Which do you think is the most worthy of its price tag? Let us know in the comments!