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Top 21 Most Expensive Fish In The World

What is the most expensive tropical pet fish in the world? 

Well, the Platinum Arowana is right up there with a jaw-dropping sale price tag of $400,000, making this the most expensive freshwater fish on the planet! And that’s without the expense of a massive tank and the astronomical cost of the creature’s ongoing care.

What makes these fish so expensive is their rarity, their colors, and their stunning beauty. Often, the most expensive saltwater fish live in such inaccessible areas that they’re very rarely seen, let alone captured. 

Read this listicle and marvel at the top 21 most expensive fish on the planet! 

Fish Name

Platinum Arowana

Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray

Blue-Eyed Pleco

Golden Alligator Gar

Platinum Alligator Gar

Zebra Pleco

Black Devil Catfish

Izumo Nankin Goldfish

Arapaima

Royal Clown Loach

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Zebra Shovelnose Catfish

Discus

Peppermint Angelfish

Golden Basslet

Masked Angelfish

Bladefin Basslet

Clarion Angelfish

Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

Australian Flathead Perch

Neptune Grouper

Color

White

Black with white spots

Grey

Gold

Grey

Black and white

Black

White and orange

Black

Black and orange

Redish pink

Black and white

Various

Red and white

Gold

Black and white

White and red

Orange and blue

Black and gray

Orange and blue

Pink and yellow

Size

4 feet 9 inches

30 inches

16 inches

6 to 10 feet

6 to 10 feet

3 inches

28 inches

8 to 12 inches

10 feet

30 inches

12 to 16 inches

24 inches

6 to 8 inches

3 inches

2 inches

8 inches

1.5 inches

10 inches

5.9 inches

6 inches

6 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

15 to 20 years

15 to 20 years

50 years

50 years

10 to 15 years

10 to 15 years

10 to 15 years

20 years

20 years

12 years

10+ years

10 years

10 to 15 years

5 to 8 years

10 to 15 years

5 to 8 years

Up to 40 years

7 to 10 years

15 to 20 years

30+ years

Min. Tank Size

250 gallons

180 gallons

120 gallons

200 gallons

200 gallons

30 gallons

300 gallons

20 gallons

1,000 gallons

100 gallons

55 gallons

180 gallons

75 gallons

125 gallons

50 gallons

125 gallons

50 gallons

100 gallons

80 gallons

N/A

200 gallons

Price

$400,000

$1,500

$600

$7,000

$7,000

$300

$200

$150

$125

$125

$200

$500

Up to $500 per pair

$30,000

$8,000

$20,000

$10,000

£2,500

$2,700

$5,000

$6,000

Fish Name

Platinum Arowana

Color

White

Size

4 feet 9 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

250 gallons

Price

$400,000

Fish Name

Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray

Color

Black with white spots

Size

30 inches

Lifespan

15 to 20 years

Min. Tank Size

180 gallons

Price

$1,500

Fish Name

Blue-Eyed Pleco

Color

Grey

Size

16 inches

Lifespan

15 to 20 years

Min. Tank Size

120 gallon

Price

$600

Fish Name

Golden Alligator Gar

Color

Gold

Size

6 to 10 feet

Lifespan

50 years

Min. Tank Size

200 gallons

Price

$7,000

Fish Name

Platinum Alligator Gar

Color

Grey

Size

6 to 10 feet

Lifespan

50 years

Min. Tank Size

200 gallons

Price

$7,000

Fish Name

Zebra Pleco

Color

Black and white

Size

3 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

30 gallons

Price

$300

Fish Name

Black Devil Catfish

Color

Black

Size

28 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

300 gallons

Price

$200

Fish Name

Izumo Nankin Goldfish

Color

White and orange

Size

8 to 12 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

20 gallons

Price

$150

Fish Name

Arapaima

Color

Black

Size

10 feet

Lifespan

20 rears

Min. Tank Size

1,000 gallons

Price

$125

Fish Name

Royal Clown Loach

Color

Black and orange

Size

30 inches

Lifespan

20 years

Min. Tank Size

100 gallons

Price

$125

Fish Name

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Color

Redish pink

Size

12 to 16 inches

Lifespan

12 years

Min. Tank Size

55 gallons

Price

$200

Fish Name

Zebra Shovelnose Catfish

Color

Black and white

Size

24 inches

Lifespan

10+ years

Min. Tank Size

180 gallons

Price

$500

Fish Name

Discus

Color

Various

Size

6 to 8 inches

Lifespan

10 years

Min. Tank Size

75 gallons

Price

Up to $500 per pair

Fish Name

Peppermint Angelfish

Color

Red and white

Size

3 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

125 gallons

Price

$30,000

Fish Name

Golden Basslet

Color

Gold

Size

2 inches

Lifespan

5 to 8 years

Min. Tank Size

50 gallon

Price

$8,000

Fish Name

Masked Angelfish

Color

Black and white

Size

8 inches

Lifespan

10 to 15 years

Min. Tank Size

125 gallons

Price

$20,000

Fish Name

Bladefin Basslet

Color

White and red

Size

1.5 inches

Lifespan

5 to 8 years

Min. Tank Size

50 gallons

Price

$10,000

Fish Name

Clarion Angelfish

Color

Orange and blue

Size

10 inches

Lifespan

Up to 40 years

Min. Tank Size

100 gallons

Price

£2,500

Fish Name

Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

Color

Black and gray

Size

5.9 inches

Lifespan

7 to 10 years

Min. Tank Size

80 gallons

Price

$2,700

Fish Name

Australian Flathead Perch

Color

Orange and blue

Size

6 inches

Lifespan

15 to 20 years

Min. Tank Size

N/A

Price

$5,000

Fish Name

Neptune Grouper

Color

Pink and yellow

Size

6 inches

Lifespan

30+ years

Min. Tank Size

200 gallons

Price

$6,0000

Top 21 Most Expensive Fish In The World Most Expensive Freshwater Fish – Fun Facts

1. Platinum Arowana (Osteoglossum bircurrhosum)

Silver arowana fish Scleropages aureus. Vintage textured paper background. soft focus

Top of the charts on price is the Platinum Arowana. All Arowanas are expensive fish, but one rare white specimen sets the record, valued at $400,000!

Arowanas are enormous, ancient-looking fish that have upward-pointing teeth and large metallic scales.

These Asian tropical fish are said to represent health, luck, and prosperity. Arowanas come in several colors, but the Platinum variety is the most sought after and the most expensive. 

2. Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi)

scat hvostokol fish

One reason for the ray’s sky-high price tag is that export from their native Brazil is now illegal. So, captive-bred rays are all that’s available for the trade, pushing up the price.

The most expensive ray was a genetically mutated specimen that had a strange U-shaped head and rings with black centers instead of spots. Unfortunately, that physical deformity meant that the ray had to be hand-fed and would certainly not have survived in nature.

3. Blue Eyed Pleco (Panaque cochliodon)

Blue Eyed Pleco
Image Source : instagram.com

The Blue-Eyed pleco from the Rio Magdalena in Colombia is one of the rarest and largest plecos in the hobby. These fish need a large tank to accommodate them, but they make an incredible feature fish if you have room for one in your tank.

These fish are wood-eaters, and they need a specialty diet if they’re to thrive. 

4. Golden Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)

The Golden Alligator gar’s prehistoric relatives were around 157 million years ago and were widely distributed around the world. However, today, Alligator gars are only found in parts of North and Central America. 

Although these huge fish with their crocodilian heads and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth do resemble alligators, these imposing creatures are harmless to humans, preying almost exclusively on fish. That said, the gar’s eggs are toxic to humans if eaten.

5. Platinum Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)

Platinum Alligator Gar
Image Source : instagram.com

Although Platinum gars do eat fish, they can be kept in a community as long as their companions are large enough not to be regarded as food. Platinum Alligator gars are schooling fish, living happily in groups of three to six.

These prehistoric-looking fishes can breathe air and water. So, you must leave a few inches of space above the waterline so that the fish can breathe air when they want to.

6. Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra)

Hypancistrus Zebra Pleco Juvenile
Source : wikimedia.org

The Zebra pleco is a stunningly beautiful freshwater tropical catfish fish that’s found in the slow-moving waters of the Big Bend region of the Xingu River.  

These Amazon River fish are named for their spectacular black and white striped coloration and pattern. A recent arrival on the fishkeeping scene, the Zebra pleco, was first described in 1990.

7. Black Devil Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii)

Crystal-eyed Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii)
Source : aqua-imports.com

The Black Devil catfish is also known as the Crystal-eyed catfish. 

These fish are aptly named. They get progressively more belligerent as they mature, ultimately attacking and killing any living creature that has the misfortune to be placed in the same tank as the Black Devil. 

8. Izumo Nankin Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

Izumo Nankin Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
Image Source : tropicalfishcafe.com

The rare Izumo Nankin goldfish is a breed of goldfish that’s native to southwestern Japan. Nankin are mainly kept within Japan and not exported to prevent the purity of the fishes’ bloodlines from being diluted by interbreeding.

In Japan, there are many enthusiasts and clubs for admirers of the breed.

9. Arapaima (Arapaima gigas)

Closeup Arapaima or Sudis gigas, also known as the pirarucu. Wildlife animal.

The Arapaima is one of the largest freshwater fish species in the world. These fish are also known as Pirarucu and are found in the murky waters of the Amazon River basin. 

The Arapaima is an obligate air-breather that must visit the water surface periodically to take gulps of air.

10. Royal Clown Loach (Leptobotia elongata)

Royal Clown Loach (Leptobotia elongata)
Image Source : instagram.com

The Royal Clown loach comes from China, specifically the middle and upper areas of the fast-flowing Yangtze River.

These beautiful loaches are often referred to as the “Holy Grail” of loaches, largely thanks to their massive size, outstanding beauty, and rarity in the trade.

11. Flowerhorn Cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus)

Flowerhorn Cichlid
Source : commons.wikimedia.org

The unusual and beautiful Flowerhorn cichlid is a man-made creation that first appeared in the hobby in the late 1990s. The fish was originally developed in Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan, quickly becoming extremely popular.

There are now a few wild populations of Flowerhorns in Malaysia and Singapore where unwanted pets were released into the wild environment. In Australia, importing these fish is banned.

12. Zebra Shovelnose Catfish (Brachyplatystoma tigrinum)

zebra shovelnose catfish underwater portrait

The Zebra Shovelnose catfish inhabits the violent whitewater environment of the Upper Amazon Basin, specifically the Rio Madeira in northwestern Brazil. Some populations have also been found in parts of Colombia and Peru.

Most of the specimens in the trade are wild-caught around the city of Iquitos in the Loreto Region of Peru.

13. Discus (Symphysodon)

Discus Fish (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

The beautiful, exotic Discus fish is extremely intelligent, and each has its own distinct personality. 

Discus grow to recognize their owners and will even show affection when you walk into the room and come close to the tank. Many Discus caretakers report that they feed their pets right out of their hands!

Most Expensive Saltwater Fish – Fun Facts

14. Peppermint Angelfish (Centropyge boylei)

Peppermint Angelfish (Paracentropyge boylei)

The gorgeous Peppermint Angelfish is incredibly rare, hence the hefty $30k price tag if you can even find one to buy. 

Currently, there’s just one specimen on view to the public in the U.S. at the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii. And that fish is not for sale!

15. Golden Basslet (Gramma dejongi)

Basslet and Golden Sweeper, Fahnenbarsche und Glasfische im Korallenriff

The Golden Basslet is a rare and beautiful aquatic gem that fetches a pretty price to match its looks.

So, why does such a tiny fish cost around $8,000 per specimen? Well, these fish live at great depths in the ocean, requiring special decompression techniques to bring them safely to the surface. However, once in captivity, the Golden Basslet adapts well and is relatively easy to keep.

16. Masked Angelfish (Centropyge venustus)

Morwong (Cheilodactylus vittatus) foreground - masked angelfish

Masked angelfish are incredibly attractive fish with snow-white bodies and a dramatic black mask.

These tropical marine fish are found in the waters around the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Although not rare in the wild, there’s a strictly enforced commercial fishing ban in the area, so few specimens make it onto the open market. That’s why these fish are so expensive.

17. Bladefin Basslet (Jeboehlkia gladifer)

The Bladefin basslet is a tiny fish that commands a high price! 

That’s largely because these basslets inhabit very deep reefs in excess of 500 feet deep, which makes them incredibly difficult to collect. In fact, the only way to collect these brightly colored marine nano fish is by submersible, which accounts for the price.

18. Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)

Clarion angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)
Source : wikimedia.org

The gorgeous Clarion angelfish is pretty readily available to enthusiasts in the hobby. 

However, despite there being a supply of captive-bred specimens from Bali, the fact that wild stocks are now classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List has pushed the price up. In fact, the first crop of Clarion angelfish set the record for the most expensive captive-bred fish ever sold at that time, fetching $5,000 per fish.

19. Wrought Iron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon daedalma)

Wrought Iron Butterflyfish (Chaetodon daedalma)
Image Source : flickr.com

The Wrought Iron butterflyfish is just about the most metallic fish in the ocean, appearing as though it were cast in silver-black iron. 

In the wild environment, the fish hang out in mated pairs or small groups. However, sometimes huge crowds of the fish gather in a “wrought-iron ball” hundreds strong to graze in safety.

20. Australian Flathead Perch (Rainfordia opercularis)

Australian Flathead Perch (Rainfordia opercularis)
Image Source : fishesofaustralia.net.au

The Australian Flathead perch is actually a species of basslet and is the rarest of that group of fishes.

These elusive fish live on the deep reefs of Eastern Australia, ranging from southern Queensland to northern New South Wales. Because they are so rare, the Australian Flathead Perch commands a high price, typically around $5,000. 

21. Neptune Grouper (Cephalopholis igarashiensis)

Neptune Grouper (Cephalopholis igarashiensis)
Source : wikimedia.org

The Neptune grouper is found in the Western Pacific Ocean ranging from Japan, French Polynesia, Fiji, and Australia.

The fish live at great depths up to 800 feet deep, so when collected for the trade, a special decompression process is required to bring them safely to the surface. 

Despite their retail trade price of up to $6,000, the Neptune grouper is also sold in food markets!

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our list of 21 of the most expensive fish in the world. Please share if you did!

Most of the fish on this list are incredibly expensive because they are rare, extremely difficult to collect, or amazingly beautiful. However, even if you can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on one of these beauties, you can still create an extremely attractive aquarium on a more modest budget.

Do you have a rare fish in your collection? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us about the most expensive fish you ever bought in the comments box below.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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