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Published: October 28, 2016

5 Spooky Fishes From The Collection

While many people think of bats and spiders around Halloween, we’ve found some equally spooky fishes to throw into the mix. Take a peek at five spooky fishes from The Field Museum’s collections.

Sarcastic Fringehead

Fish with large mouth and teeth exposed

Sarcastic fringeheads (Neoclinus blanchardi) are ferocious and fearless fishes. They live in the ocean off the coast of California and tend to settle in long-term hideouts, usually created by other animals (e.g., the burrows of  clams or snail shells). They’re known for their visual display behaviors in combat. During this display, sarcastic fringeheads  flair their jaws to intimidate others while defending their territory.

Deep Sea Hatchetfish

Deep sea fish that glows in the dark

The hatchetfish (Sternoptychidae) is a deep-sea dweller that lives thousands of feet under the surface. This fish uses bioluminescent photophores to attract its prey, as well as avoid being eaten. Additionally, the hatchetfish’s body is said to look like a hatchet since it’s very lateral and compressed: think of the thorax being the blade and the caudal peduncle (where the fish’s body ends and the tail begins) being the handle.

Goliath Tigerfish

White fish with big, sharp teeth

The goliath tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath) joins the list thanks to its long, sharp teeth. This freshwater fish lives in Africa and can be found in the Congo River Basin and Lake Tanganyika. It utilizes its serrated teeth to slash its prey, which includes any fish it can overpower.  

Viperfish

Long, black fish with large teeth

The viperfish (Chauliodus) lives in the deep sea and uses bioluminescent photophores, much like the Hatchetfish, to lure its prey. This fish has overgrown, fang-like teeth that are so long that they don’t even fit in its mouth. The viperfish floats motionless for hours at a time, waiting to attract prey with its light. Once prey gets close enough, it will uses its long sharp teeth and hinged lower jaw to take a bite and swallow its prey whole.

Fangtooth

Copper colored fish with long fang-like teeth

Despite its spooky appearance, the fangtooth (Anoplogaster) grows to only reach 16 cm in length and preys upon fishes that are smaller in size. The fangtooth was rightfully named after its terrifying teeth. In fact, in adults, the two largest fangs of the lower jaw are so long that they’ve evolved a pair of opposing sockets on either side of the brain to accommodate their teeth when its mouth is closed. What a bite!

This post was inspired by The Fisheries Blog.