The Top 10 Most Expensive Fish

Written by Lex Basu
Updated: April 17, 2023
© chonlasub woravichan/
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Key Points:

  • Fish collected for aquariums can range in price from cheap to more expensive than a home.
  • Unique, even deformed fish can go for even more money than a normal one of its kind.
  • The most expensive fish is endangered and can be purchased upwards of $400,000.

When narrowing down the most expensive fish, there are several criteria to consider. While sharks and tuna often sell for large sums of money, both those fish are typically sold for food, rather than for aquariums, and the prices fluctuate a lot more. So for the purposes of this article, we will focus on those fish that are sold as pets.

Another consideration is the usual price for the animal, rather than the most ever paid for one. For instance, though there was one Polka Dot Stingray that sold for $100,000, that was only due to its unusual U-shaped head; ordinarily, Polka Dot Stingrays only sell for around $1,500, so it won’t make the top 10. Likewise, the Peppermint Angelfish won’t make the list even though an aquarium was offered $30,000 for their specimen because the aquarium refused the sale. Now let’s see which pet fish’s regular price does make the cut!

#10 Clarion Angelfish

Most Expensive Fish: Clarion Angelfish
Juvenile Clarion angelfish (Holocanthus clarionensis) hiding on a rocky reef, tropical East Pacific Ocean.

©Allison C Bailey/

First on our list is the Clarion Angelfish. This beautiful saltwater specimen primarily found off the coast of Mexico is bright orange with electric blue stripes. They reach a maximum length of about eight inches. Clarion Angelfish has a conservation status of Vulnerable. With a price tag of around $2,500, most people would already consider that a fairly expensive fish, but we are just getting started!

#9 Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

Most Expensive Fish: Wrought Iron Butterflyfish
Wrought iron butterflyfish at the Dallas World Aquarium. Wrought iron butterflyfish, are found only around Japan’s Izu Islands.

©William Cushman/

Coming in at ninth place is the Wrought Iron Butterflyfish. Native to Japan, this animal is named for its unusual metallic appearance, which looks like crosshatched iron fencing. The Wrought Iron variety is less colorful than other species of Butterflyfish, with its only bright color being a thin bit of yellow on its tail and back half. These pets fetch a price of $2,700.

#8 Flathead Perch

The Flathead Perch is found in the reefs of Australia and costs about $5,000 to own. These perch are also known as Rainfordia opercularis. Their coloring is very striking when they are young, mellowing to blue and yellow stripes that run from their mouths to their tails as they mature. They reach lengths of around six inches.

#7 Neptune Grouper

Most Expensive Fish: Neptune Grouper
The deepwater grouper species Cephalopholis igarashienisis, the Garish Hind or the Neptune Grouper.

©John E. Randall / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Neptune Grouper Cephalopholis igarashiensis is known by several other names, including the garish hind, goldbar grouper, and the Japanese cod. One reason for this grouper’s $6,000 price tag, besides its rarity, is its unique coloring or pinkish-orange and yellow with white stripes and black spots. Another reason is that they are hard to capture alive, as they are very susceptible to death from rapid decompression. These groupers can reach up to 17 inches long and live as long as 30 years!

#6 Platinum Alligator Gar

Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Alligator Gar
An platinum Alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) in water. It is not albino because the eyes are black instead of red.

©Danny Ye/

One of the only freshwater entries on this list is the Platinum Alligator Gar. Overfishing has decreased their habitat, so these are mostly found in the southern United States and parts of Mexico. These pale gray Alligator Gar reach lengths of up to 10 feet in the wild, and cost around $7,000, though some have sold for about three times that price.

#5 Golden Alligator Gar

Like its platinum cousin, the Golden Alligator Gar costs around $7,000. They usually grow to about six feet in the wild and are a bright golden yellow-orange. Only about one in every 10,000 Alligator Gar have this rare gold coloration. While they have very sharp teeth, they do not pose a danger to humans, unless a person consumes their eggs, which are toxic.

#4 Golden Basslet

Coming in at number four on the list is another animal with gold coloring, the Golden Basslet. They are found near Cuba. Unlike other basslets, goldens are not primarily purple, but obviously golden orange, with some purple and black markings as well. This is the second smallest entry on our list, as they grow to just under three inches. Owning one will cost you $8,000, which is nearly $3,000 per inch!

#3 Bladefin Basslet

Beginning our top three is the Bladefin Basslet, found in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the smallest animal on our list. Bladefins only reach about one and a half inches in length. These orange and white striped basslets cost a whopping $10,000 each, and they are the only species in the Jeboehlkia genus.

#2 Masked Angelfish

Most Expensive Fish: Masked Angelfish
The masked angelfish (Genicanthus personatus). It is a most beautiful and very expensive marine fish.

©chonlasub woravichan/

In second place is another variety of the fish which began our list, this time the Masked Angelfish. The name comes from the colored markings around their eye, which may be yellow, black, or purple, depending on the type. They are found in the depths off Kauai in Hawaii. Because they live so deep in the ocean, it used to be much harder to obtain them, but now they are being bred in captivity and it is possible to buy one of these specimens for as little as $8,000 or as much as $20,000. It would take 20 of the most expensive of these to equal the cost of one of the highest animals on our list!

#1 Platinum Arowana

Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Arowana
A swimming platinum Arowana. They are excellent jumpers and can jump 5 feet above the water.


The Platinum, also popularly known as the Asian Arowana or Scleropages formosus, sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Dragon Fish, it sells for up to $400,000, making it far and away the most expensive fish that can be bought for an aquarium. Here are some facts about the Platinum you might find interesting:

  • The Asian Arowana is listed in the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix I, and international trading of this fish is against the law.
  • In the 70s, the Asian Arowana was widely eaten and because of overfishing and loss of natural habitat this specie became an endangered one
  • The Asian Arowana can live up to 60 years in captivity and even more in the wild.

These endangered animals are actually banned in the United States. The platinum coloring is the rarest variety. They can reach lengths of up to three feet.

Fish Smuggling

Owning these extravagant fish may seem like a great addition to any in-home aquarium. However, the price paid for these fish is well over what they cost monetarily. Many of these fish species are rare, threatened, or even endangered and are illegally caught and smuggled across countries to get them to buyers. Fish smuggling further depletes natural populations, leaving ecosystems barren and unbalanced. Unbalanced environments lead to further destruction and loss of habitat, diminishing other fish populations in the area and ruining the food chains. Endangered species are becoming more prevalent, which drives the price up for these fish and makes them more enticing to exotic collectors. The cycle is vicious and unending unless it is stopped at the source: buyers.

Summary Of The Top 10 Most Expensive Fish

RankFishPrice (USD)
1Platinum Arowana$400,000
2Masked Angelfish$20,000
3Bladefin Basslet$10,000
4Golden Basslet$8,000
5Golden Alligator Gar$7,000
6Platinum Alligator Gar$7,000
7Neptune Grouper$6,000
8Flathead Perch$5,000
9Wrought Iron Butterflyfish$2,700
10Clarion Angelfish$2,500

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About the Author

Lex is a green-living, tree-hugging, animal-lover, who at one time was the mother to twenty one felines and one doggo. Now she helps pet owners around the globe be the best caretakers for their most trusting companions by sharing her experience and spreading love.

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