10 Most Expensive Fish for an Aquarium (in 2020)

People have been keeping aquariums since time immemorial. You can literally spend hours just looking at the fish even as they zip to and fro, amongst all the decorations, rocks, and plants that you have placed there.

However, this can be an expensive hobby if you are inclined towards the more expensive fish species available today.

Most Expensive Fish for an Aquarium?

Let us take a look at some of the most expensive fish that you can purchase for an aquarium:

The Platinum Arowana

The Platinum Arowana is widely considered to be one of the most expensive fish. This has a lot to do with the raw beauty of its multi-hued body, as well as the difficulty of breeding this fish in captivity.

A typical specimen may go from as high as $400,000. Their platinum color is not indigenous to the species, but rather is the result of a very rare genetic mutation. Here, it is important to note that not all such Arowanas are priced this high.

These stunning creatures are very high maintenance fish and would not survive for long in a 5-gallon water tank. They are pretty big fish and require at least a 250-gallon aquarium tank so that they could move properly as they reach their maximum 36-inch length.

It is not easy for a layman to take care of Platinum Arowana because they require a certain amount of specialized care with reference to the chemicals present in the water. This is why only highly experienced and professional aquarists have the knowhow to take care of them.

This is not a herbivorous fish but a carnivore, and it requires a high meat diet that should consist of small snails, fish, insects as well as crustaceans (due to their high calcium content).

The cost of providing it regular meals of its favorite diet will add to the cost of its upkeep. Many Asians love this fish and wish to keep them in their aquarium because it is believed that the Platinum Arowana has the power to neutralize negative influences from one’s life and also boost health, good luck, and prosperity.

The Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray

The Polka Dot Stingray is the most expensive freshwater stingray ever sold. One such stingray came with a hefty price tag of $100,000 because of its truly unique genetically mutated head. Unlike other stingrays, it had a U-shaped look instead of the typical round-headed look of other stingrays.

This fish has to be hand-fed to survive because its U shaped head does not allow it to hunt properly. This means that it is an aquarium-only fish because it cannot survive in the wild on its own. Its dark and matt black body and its white polka dot coloring are the key reasons due to which it is so expensive.

It is not a very big fish and can reach 18 inches in diameter. However, it needs absolutely massive aquariums to survive.

A typical polka dot stingray would not be able to survive in anything less than 500 gallons of fresh water that is completely changed on a periodic basis.

It is a very active fish and has a very high metabolic rate since it burns a lot of calories when it moves. This is why it must be fed twice a day. Its diet consists of other small fish, crustaceans, and sea worms.

The Peppermint Angelfish

This fish is justly renowned both for its incredible rarity as well as its unique beauty. As of now, there is only one single specimen that is available for view publicly anywhere in the world. That fish can be seen only at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This large commercial aquarium has been offered over $30,000 for this fish, but the management of the aquarium declined because they wanted everyone to enjoy its beauty. It regularly draws huge crowds of aquarium fish enthusiasts to the aquarium.

This is a very small fish at 2.5 inches and looks just like a peppermint sweet. It is the single most expensive reef fish—in terms of size per inch—that has ever been seen.

In spite of its tiny size, it won’t survive in a regular 5 gallon home aquarium. This fish requires a large 125-gallon water tank and also needs to be fed a balanced diet of both plant-based as well as meaty foods.

The Neptune Grouper

The Neptune Grouper is also a very rare fish, and it is not easy to find one in the wild. Whilst groupers are fairly common throughout the aquarium worlds, the Neptune grouper has very attractive colors.

In fact, it is this unique color that is the main reason behind its high $6000 price tag for an adult fish. Most young fish tend to be much more expensive than their adult counterparts.

With a neon hot pink body interspaced with brilliant yellow bands, this fish usually lives so deep in the ocean that it is very rarely caught alive.

Mostly, the fish is used as food in East Asia because even when caught alive, it dies because of rapid decompression and, even those that do survive also need special treatment. Great care has to be taken both during transport and also during their captivity and display at an aquarium.

The Grouper is a very large fish and requires a minimum of 200 gallons of water in its roomy tank. Since they have a carnivorous diet, they usually enjoy meaty foods such as scallops, shrimp, and squid that they catch and eat in the wild.

Trying to wean them away from this diet during captivity will only lead to a very rapid decline in life expectancy. This is why they have to be fed the same diet that they are used to from their time in the high seas.

Anyone interested in owning this fish will need to make sure that they have the requisite experience as well as sufficient space to provide a permanent home to these rare and exquisitely beautiful fish.

The Bladefin Basslet

This is one of the smallest aquarium fishes in the world. It is merely 1.5 inches long, and few people can even imagine that a fish this tiny would actually cost a whopping $10,000.

The main reasoning for this heavy price tag is the same as other fish. Not only is it extremely beautiful but also very rare in the bargain. These little fishes are commonly found in the Caribbean region at depths exceeding 500 feet.

While it may be small, it is very aggressive, especially towards other fishes of its own species. This is why they need a tank with a minimum capacity of 50 gallons with water and vegetation as close to their natural habitat as possible.

They usually need plenty of space to swim around so that they don’t bump into each other. Apart from that, they also need plenty of crevices and caves where they can hide and feel comfortable.

This fish thrives on other fish even smaller than itself. It also loves live shrimp and other tiny crustaceans, and these have to be procured for it on an everyday basis; otherwise, it will die.

The Masked Angelfish

The Masked Angelfish is eagerly sought after by many avid collectors and commercial aquariums. However, very few live species are found every year.

Typically one or two at most are collected and sold, thus making their $20,000 price tag entirely understandable for aquarium fish enthusiasts.

The fish starts out as a female, but it eventually morphs into a male. The Masked Angelfish was discovered very recently with the first ones being discovered in 1972.

It is 8 inches in length, and unlike other rare and expensive fishes, this one does not sport any bright colors. On the contrary, its appeal lies in its sheer simplicity.

It has an absolutely incredible marble white body that reflects sunlight very well. Apart from that, the fish wears a black mask across its eyes, and it has blueish white lips.

Nami Green Arowana

This rare but extremely striking fish is found near the Pedu Lake region in northern Malaysia. Once the Nami Green Arowana fish grows up, its batik stripes will become more obvious and prominent all over the body of the fish.

There was a time when this fish was plentiful, but years of angling and uncontrolled fishing has driven it to near extinction, and that is why even a single living specimen is worth over $5000 as of today.

Great care has to be taken to ensure that it survives both in the world and in captivity.

Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

As the name suggests, this fish has an attractive pattern and colors that look like a bar of wrought iron. The butterflyfish can swim very gracefully, and it is almost extraordinarily beautiful.

Its metallic look is highlighted by its yellow-tipped fins. It likes to travel in schools of about 10 to 20 members. They are usually found in the western Pacific Ocean and quite close to Japan.

Even if captured alive, they don’t survive for long since they are used to living in the vast expanse of the largest ocean in the world.

They can go off their feed and slowly starve to death as they pine away for their old life. However, once they adjust to their new life, they will only eat certain types of plankton and algae. This is not easy for an aquarium to manage on a regular basis. They cost around $2700 for adult specimens.

The Australian Flathead Perch

This is widely considered to be one of the rarest and also least known Perch species. Very little is known about this particular sub-species, and marine biologists have been able to get hold of only a few living specimens to study their behavioral patterns.

They grow up to half a foot or so, and the juveniles have a bright orange coloring that they shed as they grow older. They also sport vivid blue stripes that are laced with black.

The flathead part of their name has been taken due to the unique nature of their head that is horizontally flat with a very wide mouth. All of these attributes, as well as the rarity of the species, makes them a really sought after gem for any aquarium and justifies their $5000 price tag.

Clarion Angelfish

There are few aquarium enthusiasts who would not be familiar with the Clarion Angelfish. After all, it is by far and large one of the most well-known and sought after saltwater fishes among aquarists.

These brightly colored fishes are native to the Eastern Central Pacific Ocean, where they routinely reach up to 10 inches in length. They have bright yellow-colored bodies that have very vivid blue stripes that run down both their body and their face.

Their small, constantly moving fins are also similarly tipped in the same luminous, vivid blue. Unlike most rare species, the Clarion Angelfish is captive-bred on the island of Bali.

Their price depends on their age and the vividness of their coloring, and they can be purchased from $2,500 all the way to $7,000 or so (subject to their availability).

Final Words

This concludes our round-up of the most expensive fishes for an aquarium. Some of these unique fishes are so incredibly rare, that even if people have the requisite funds and the knowledge necessary to look after them, it would not be possible to purchase them from anywhere.

This is not because of the price and demand factors alone, but rather due to a lack of availability. However, their mere presence is living proof of the mysterious life that exists in our seas, rivers, and oceans and makes us awestruck with wonder.

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