The Edge: Fangtooth Fish

Also commonly known as the 'ogre fish' due to its grotesque and terrifying appearance, the fangtooth fish exists primarily in the deep waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. With the largest teeth in proportion to its body size, the fangtooth fish uses its large mouth and sharp teeth to hunt and consume small fish, shrimp and squid. They are carnivorous and highly mobile fish, and therefore seek out food in comparison to other predators who commonly ambush their prey. One adaptation that protects them is the special pouches on the roof of its mouth which prevent the fang-looking teeth it acquires from piercing the fish's brain when its mouth is closed.


Despite looking terrifying, the fangtooth fish is actually a small fish with a maximum length of 18 centimetres (7 inches), about the average adults hand - you could hold one if you wanted to! It acquires a short but deep body, with a large head and mouth which allow it to catch small prey over a large surface area such as the small fish (it also allows it to catch prey much larger than its own size). At the top of the head, it has very small eyes which reduces their eyesight significantly. As a way to compensate, fangtooth fish have developed a prominent lateral line which helps it to sense movement and vibration from the surrounding water. This mechanism by which it detects its prey is often labelled as chemoreception, and many scientists believe that is how the fangtooth operates when catching its prey. Chemoreception refers to the idea that the fangtooth bumps into anything it can and tries to eat it/identify it as a prey and consume it as a way to compensate for its poor eyesight.

Its body is covered with prickly scales and spines. The colour ranges from browns to red, however it often has darker shades. Combined with the prickly scales, the dark skin becomes the ultimate camouflage for the fangtooth fish in the deep and dim-lighted environment. It is laterally compressed, meaning it looks a bit like a pancake if you were to view it from the side. Regardless of its small size, fangtooth fish have strong muscles which allow them to cope with the incomprehensible pressure found at the depths of the ocean.

Does it Harm Humans?

Although they look terrifying, they pose no threat to humans. We're not their preferred dish.

Is it Endangered?

The fangtooth fish has only been spotted 8 times in the past 30 years of MBARI expeditions. That doesn't necessarily mean they are endangered as such, it could possibly mean that they are experts at hiding. Alternatively, it might just be the case that we are unable to analyse and discover the depths of the oceans properly due to the immense pressure and inappropriate/inadequate tools and equipment.

Does it Have Predators?

In the deep, research suggests the fangtooth doesn't have many predators. However, it is believed that they migrate to the upper layers of the ocean to hunt prey. If it does so, it risks becoming a meal for larger species of fish such as tuna or marlin.


Fangtooth fish aren't considered the finest creations or entities that lie in the oceans, especially the depths. And although it is a small carnivorous fish with long and sharp fangs, size doesn't always mean anything! We have to give it credit for being a beautifully terrifying creature of the ocean depths!

References,in%20proportion%20to%20body%20size.,large%20mouth%20with%20sharp%20teeth. (this is a really good video if you are interested!)

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All