Meet The 10 Cutest Fish In The World

Written by Heather Hall
Published: November 26, 2022
© iStock.com/vojce
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Fish are abundant on the planet. We have over 34,300 species of fish! 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water, and oceans make up 96.5 percent of that water. Can you imagine all of the types of fish that can live in such a massive area of water? Scientists are discovering new species of marine life every day! Fish come in so many different sizes, types, and colors that it was nearly impossible to pick out only ten for our list. We tried to select interesting, unique fish with bright colors and mesmerizing patterns. Many of these fish would also make a list of the top ten cutest fish pets, as some of them make great (and cute) aquarium fish.

So many of the earth’s fish are super cute. It is hard to pick only ten fish to highlight as the world’s cutest fish species, but we will give it a try! 

1. Butterfly Fish

orange and white butterfly fish
Butterfly fish have brightly colored stripes.

©Vladislav Gajic/Shutterstock.com

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These brightly painted fish deserve a place on the world’s cutest fish list. There are 129 species of butterfly fish around the world. They live mostly around reefs and range in size from four to nine inches. Many species of butterflyfish have brightly colored stripes. They come in black, white, blue, red, orange, and yellow in a multitude of color combinations. Some have spots that look like eyes on their flanks and a camouflaged dark stripe over their real eyes. These spots are meant to fool predators and prey alike.  

Here are a few very popular and extremely cute butterflyfish:

  • Copperband butterflyfish
  • Enigmatic butterflyfish
  • Sunburst butterflyfish
  • Bluelashed butterflyfish

2. Rainbow Fish

rainbowfish
Rainbowfish can get up to eight inches long.

©Aleron Val/Shutterstock.com

The rainbowfish’s bright colors earn it a spot on the world’s cutest fish list. These small freshwater fish range in size from two inches to four inches, with a few species reaching eight inches. They live in large schools and travel and hunt together. Rainbow fish live in freshwater rivers, lakes, and swamps. They eat crustaceans, insect larvae, and algae. Rainbowfish like to hang out with other cute fish like tetras and guppies. 

Here is a list of a few of the cutest rainbow fish: 

  • Western rainbowfish
  • Ornate rainbowfish
  • Red-finned rainbowfish
  • Yakati rainbowfish

3. Kribensis

Rainbow Kribensis
Kribensis is commonly found in aquariums.

©zzphot_25/Shutterstock.com

Rainbow kribensis are so cute that they are one of the most popular aquarium fish worldwide. They have many common names, including red krib, purple cichlid, and common krib. They have dark stripes that run longways down their bodies from fin to mouth, cute pink and red bellies, and sometimes a golden eye spot. These adorable fish live in freshwater with dense vegetation. They eat algae, plants, and invertebrates. 

Here are two very cute types of kribensis:

  • Rainbow kribensis
  • Striped kribensis

4. Betta Fish

Siamese fighting fish eat zooplankton and tiny crustaceans.

©Arunee Rodloy/Shutterstock.com

Betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish. They come in various stunning colors, including red, orange, yellow, blue, turquoise, black, multi-colored, and more! They grow to around three inches and have lovely long, flowing fins. In nature, betta fish are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in shallow water marshes and paddy fields with abundant vegetation. They eat zooplankton, larvae of insects (including mosquitos), and tiny crustaceans.

Here are a couple of very cute types of betta fish:

  • Peaceful Betta
  • Emerald Green Betta

5. Angelfish

Queen angelfish
You can identify angelfish by their brightly colored stripes.

©Galina Savina/Shutterstock.com

Angelfish are definitely contenders for the world’s cutest fish. They are known for their bright colored stripes, including orange, blue, white, yellow, and iridescent purple. The species ranges in size, with some members reaching seven inches and some reaching 24 inches. Some species have long extensions of their fins that look like streamers. They can be found in various oceans but prefer water no deeper than 260 feet. They like to hang out in lagoons, reefs, and sea caves and are known for being brave and curious, often swimming up to divers to check them out. Angelfish’s favorite food is sea sponges. There are 86 species of angelfish. Here are a few cute members of the family: 

  • Royal angelfish
  • Queen angelfish
  • Rock beauty angelfish
  • Orange face angelfish
  • Bluespotted angelfish

6. Surgeon Fish

powder blue surgeonfish in water
This surgeonfish is popular in the aquarium world.

©iStock.com/tae208

Surgeonfish have many names, including unicorn fish and tangs. They are called surgeonfish because of scales resembling scalpels on either side of their tail. Their scales are sharp and dangerous to touch and an excellent way to avoid being eaten.  Surgeonfish eat mostly algae with a single row of teeth that they have adapted just for this purpose. They live in schools, and together they protect their coral reef homes. 

There are 86 species of surgeonfish. Here are a few super cute members of the family:

  • Pacific blue tang surgeonfish
  • Lipstick tang
  • Lined surgeonfish
  • Atlantic blue tan surgeonfish
  • Achilles tang
  • Eyestripe surgeonfish
  • Powderblue surgeonfish
  • Bignose unicornfish
  • Regal tang

7. Dragonet

dragonet
Dragonet fish are colorful.

©Dobermaraner/Shutterstock.com

There are 139 species of dragonet fish, and they have many different appearances. They are quite colorful in general and have lovely patterns designed to confuse the eye, especially the eye of their predators. For example, the Mandarin dragonet (or mandarin fish) has an exquisite electric blue, orange and green pattern. They also are known to bury themselves in the sand at the bottom of the ocean, with only their eyes peeking out. Cute!

They have long bodies without scales, with a few species being venomous. They range in size from .75 of one inch to 12 inches in length. The diet of the dragonet depends largely on its environment. Dragonets will eat sea grass, bivalves, worms, snails, slugs, and brittle stars. They draw the food into their mouths and then spit out the sand.

 Some of the cutest dragonets include:

  • Tentacled dragonet
  • Painted dragonet
  • Mandarin dragonet

8. Killifish

Killifish
There are 1270 species of killifish, which all vary in color, size, and shape.

©slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

The killifish family contains 1,270 species, some of which are exceptionally cute. They are found in brackish waters, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They make their homes in streams, rivers, and lakes. They feed on aquatic insect larvae, like mosquitos. They also enjoy worms and crustaceans. Because of their bright colors, unique patterns, and spots, killifish are popular aquarium fish. They are clever enough to swim upside down to confuse predators. Smart!

The cutest member of the killifish family are:

  • Devils Hole pupfish
  • Striped Panchax
  • Flagfish
  • Golden Topminnow
  • Bluefin Notho (maybe the cutest fish ever!)

9. Sea Horse

Slender seahorse
Sea horses are slow-moving fish.

©Marcos del Mazo/Shutterstock.com

Yes, sea horses are fish. There are 46 species of sea horses. They have a horse-like head, neck, and tail. The species range in size from a tiny 1.5 inches to a large 14 inches. These bony fish do not have scales but skin that stretches over bones. These bones help protect them from being eaten. Seahorses swim upright, using pectoral fins on each side of their head to steer. They aren’t very good swimmers and are considered very slow-moving fish. Some species of seahorse can only move five feet in one hour! Rather than swim, they prefer to hang out in one place with their tail wrapped around a piece of seaweed or coral. Seahorses don’t have stomachs, so they eat a simple but continuous diet of small crustaceans. 

We think one hundred percent of the sea horses are cute, but here are our favorites:

  • Zebra seahorse
  • Tiger tail seahorse
  • Long snout seahorse
  • Dwarf seahorse
  • Knobby seahorse

10. Clownfish

Clownfish in a sea anemone.
Clownfish have a symbiotic relationship with the sea anemone.

©Alex Stemmers/Shutterstock.com

There are 30 species of clownfish (also known as anemone fish) on earth, and they are all super cute. Most of them range in colors from yellow, orange, red, and white. They are between three and six inches long. They like warm oceans and make their homes in shallow areas with reefs and lagoons. Clownfish like to eat zooplankton, larvae, and algae. They are best friends with sea anemones and have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone protects the clownfish by offering a safe nesting site. The clownfish defends the sea anemone from predators and feeds it with nitrogen from its waste. How nice!

Here are some of the cutest species of clownfish:

  • Tomato clownfish
  • Yellowtail clownfish
  • Saddleback clownfish
  • Maroon clownfish
  • Maldive Anemonefish

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The Featured Image

The front of the body of the Peppermint Angelfish is curved into a snout, whereas the back fins are square-shaped.
The angelfish is one of the cutest fish in the world.
© iStock.com/vojce

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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