The ocean is filled with creatures you wouldn’t want to come across any time soon.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting facts about fangtooth fish, one of the scariest of them all!
1. They are part of the order Beryciformes
The Beryciformes are an order of carnivorous fish that feed on small fish and invertebrates. They are ray-finned fish which means that their skin is supported by bony spines.
Fangtooths are part of the family Anoplogastridae, one of the 7 families of deep-sea fish in the order Beryciformes. The name of this family is derived from the Greek words “anoplo,” which means “unarmed,” and “gaster,” which means “stomach.”
2. There are 2 distinct species of fangtooth fish
While the Beryciformes consist of 7 families, 30 genera, and 161 species, there are only 2 recognized species of fangtooth fish. These 2 species are:
- Shorthorn fangtooth (Anoplogaster brachycera)
- Common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta)
The shorthorn fangtooth is not even half the size of the common fangtooth.
3. Fangtooths are relatively small fish species
So how big are fangtooth fish?
Even though they look quite scary, these are relatively small fish. The common fangtooth, the largest of the two species, only grows to a maximum length of 16 centimeters (6.3 inches).
The largest measured shorthorn fangtooth was about 6 centimeters in length (2.4 inches), even though it’s unclear whether or not this was an adult individual or a juvenile, which means there might be bigger ones out there.
4. They are named after their most remarkable feature
The most distinctive feature of this type of fish is their fang-like teeth, which is also the reason why they are named the way. Their large mouth and needle-like teeth give them their particularly scary appearance.
One of the most remarkable facts about fangtooth fish is that those unusually large teeth aren’t an uncommon feature among carnivorous fish living in the deep sea. This can also be found in other fish species such as viperfishes, daggertooths, bristlemouths, barracudas, and, anglerfishes.
5. It’s fair to conclude that their teeth are way too long
Even though extremely long teeth aren’t uncommon among monsters of the deep sea, the teeth of the fangtooth fish are something else. It’s assumed that they have the largest teeth of any fish in the ocean when compared to body size.
One of the most amazing facts about fangtooth fish is that their teeth are so large that they are unable to close their mouths completely. To make things even more remarkable, they have evolved in such a way that they have developed an extra pair of sockets near their brains so their teeth could fit into them.
Who knows, if they keep evolving, they might eventually be able to actually close their mouths, one day!
6. Juvenile fangtooths were once considered as a different species
Juvenile fangtooths look completely different than adults. They differ so much that they were once considered to be a completely different species in another genus called “Caulolepis.”
The younger fish are much lighter in color, a lighter shade of grey as opposed to the brown and black color of adults. They also have much larger eyes and most important, much smaller teeth as well!
7. There’s zero chance you will come across any living fangtooth
So where do fangtooth fish live?
You don’t need to worry because there’s zero chance you will find one of these swimming around once you take another dive in the ocean. These fish live at extreme depths of anywhere between 200 and 2,000 meters (660 and 6,560 feet).
Some individuals even go to depths of up to 5,000 meters (16,000 feet). This makes them one of the deepest-living fish on the planet, able to sustain unimaginable conditions!
These fish have also been found just about anywhere in the world, including both tropical and cold-temperate waters!
8. They move up and down in the ocean during the day
The reason their normal range is anywhere between 200 and 2,000 meters (660 and 6,560 feet) is that they undergo daily diel vertical migrations.
This means they move up to lower depths during the night and move back down to extreme depths during the day. This simply means that they aren’t too comfortable with light and can live in extremely dark conditions.
Unlike many other deep-sea creatures, they sometimes form schools, even though many individuals have been spotted going at it alone as well.
9. They prey upon other creatures, but are preyed upon as well
Because they live in the dark, it’s assumed that they have some sort of sensor to track prey. This is referred to as contact chemoreception, a chemical reaction to goodies swimming around which makes them lash out which their sharp teeth.
Most of their meals consist of smaller fish and squid. Juveniles, on the other hand, most probably filter zooplankton from the water as they possess gill rakers to do this job.
While fangtooth fish are considered to be ferocious predators, they constantly have to watch their backs as well because they are also the target of larger predators. These can include tuna, marlin, and even some species of sharks!
10. Little is known about their reproduction cycle
While we do know that fangtooths spawn planktonic larvae, when and where they do this is uncertain. As the juveniles grow older, they start moving down to the bottom of the ocean, a process that starts when they reach about 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) in length.
After that, they move up and down the ocean looking for food, while attempting to avoid being eaten themselves as well in a world of constant danger!