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 $1500, 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 Most Expensive Fish: Clarion Angelfish
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 $2500, most people would already consider that a fairly expensive fish, but we are just getting started!
#9 Most Expensive Fish: Wrought Iron Butterflyfish
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 $2700.
#8 Most Expensive Fish: Flathead Perch
The Flathead Perch is found in the reefs of Australia and costs about $5000 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 Most Expensive Fish: Neptune Grouper
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 $6000 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 Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Alligator Gar
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 $7000, though some have sold for about three times that price.
#5 Most Expensive Fish: Golden Alligator Gar
Like its platinum cousin, the Golden Alligator Gar costs around $7000. 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 Most Expensive Fish: 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 $8000, which is nearly $3000 per inch!
#3 Most Expensive Fish: 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 Most Expensive Fish: Masked Angelfish
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 $8000 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 Most Expensive Fish: Platinum Arowana
The Platinum or Asian Arowana or Scleropages formosus, sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Dragon Fish, sells for $400,000, making it far and away the most expensive fish that can be bought for an aquarium. 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.