There is plenty of fish diversity in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Some of them look average, like nothing special. Others are plain ugly and weird.
But there are also fish you can catch that are quite beautiful and do not necessarily belong in the aquarium.
We thought about it for a while, and we came with a list of the top 8 pretty fresh and saltwater fish.
Peacock Bass is native to South America but has been introduced to the warm waters of South Florida in the mid-’80s. Although having a common name and a very similar look to smallmouth and largemouth bass, they are not related.
There are two types of Peacock Bass in South Florida and we consider both to be pretty fish: Butterfly and Speckled Peacock Bass.
Butterfly Peacock Bass are yellow-green with three distinguished spots on each side of their body. Smaller fish may sport stripes that fade when fish grow bigger.
They have very characteristic for Peacock Bass deep red spot on the caudal fin rimmed in a yellow halo.
Butterfly peacock bass grows up to around 12 lbs.
The Butterfly Peacock Bass is a mighty fish that has an aggressive bite. The best tackle for this fish is light spinning lures resembling small fish. Butterfly Peacock is one of the most challenging fish you can handle on a light tackle.
As opposed to Butterfly, Speckled Peacock Bass has three vertical bars on its body, which get darker the older the fish grows.
True to its name, Speckled Peacock sports speckling over the body and fins. It can reach a weight of around 30 lbs.
An excellent game fish, the Speckled Peacock, puts up a big fight and can be caught on spinning, bait cast, or fly tackle.
Both Speckled and Butterfly Peacock Bass are edible, although it is illegal to kill or possess Speckled Peacock.
You can find Golden Trout habitats on the west side of the U.S. at elevations above 6800ft.
Golden Trout is considered the most beautiful freshwater game fish by many anglers, and we have to agree.
The coloration is remarkable. Most of the body is golden yellow, covered with black spots. Golden Trout has a red stripe running alongside the body, similar to that of a rainbow trout.
It is the only species of Salmonids that keeps the parr marks on its sides through its life.
You can successfully catch Golden Trout on Caddis fly and midges, but also with spinners, salmon eggs, and small insects.
Golden Trout makes excellent food. Its flesh in color is similar to salmon.
You probably didn’t expect a Pumpkinseed to make this list, but here we are.
This easy-to-catch sunfish sometimes thought of as a nuisance, is not a popular sport fish because of its small size and ease of catching.
They grow to be around 4 in long and weigh a little under 1 lb, although the record fish was 1 lb 8 oz.
Pumpkinseed has one of the most vibrant colorations of freshwater fish.
Colors may vary between olive-green and brown to very bright orange and blue.
Female Pumpkinseed have more prominent green or blue vertical bars.
You can recognize Pumpkinseed by its orange-red spot on the edge of its black gill cover.
One can find this colorful sunfish in ponds and small lakes with clear water and lots of vegetation by the shore and small creeks and rivers.
The Pumpkinseed usually travels in schools that sometimes may include bluegills and other sunfish.
This tropical fish is a deep-water dweller but can sometimes be caught from a pier.
Mahi Mahi, commonly called a Dolphinfish, is one of the most colorful fish in the ocean.
The coloration may vary from fish to fish, but generally, the Dolphinfish is a rich blue or blue-green color on the dorsal part, golden or silvery on the lower part, and white or yellow on the belly.
They have one dorsal fin extending from the head almost to the tail.
You can usually distinguish between female and male fish. The male Mahi Mahi have foreheads protruding above their body, and females have rounded heads.
Dolphinfish can reach the size of 3ft.
They are great swimmers (the top speed up to 50mph in short distances). They travel in schools, which makes them easier to target.
Mahi Mahi are sought for their meat and beauty. Once caught on the line, they are very acrobatic and provide lots of fun reeling in.
Considered by many people the most beautiful of the jacks and trevallys, Bluefin Trevally is a sight to behold.
One can find the Bluefin in tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
The adult Bluefin Trevally is brilliant turquoise blue, silvery blue, or greenish-blue on their backs and flanks, usually covered in black or blue spots.
As the name suggests, the fins are blue, even more striking than the color of the body.
There is a slight distinction between young fish and the adult Bluefin Trevally. The youngsters are more silvery yellow with no spots.
The Bluefin can reach a size of around 3.8ft and weigh about 96 lbs.
To catch this beauty, you have to look in deep lagoons and outer reef waters in the day.
The Bluefin Trevally is an excellent fighter and makes spectacular runs on a light tackle. Its meat is considered a good table fare, although the study showed that fish bigger than 50cm are likely to carry ciguatera toxin.
The Queen Triggerfish looks like an aquarium fish (and is one at that), but rest assured, this pretty fish is suitable for consumption, although few anglers decide to keep them for food. They are too pretty!
This Triggerfish, sometimes called old wife, is quite aggressive during the breeding season.
Like all its cousins, Queen Triggerfish is brightly colored and catches the attention of anglers in tropical and subtropical waters.
The Queen Triggerfishs’ colors vary between blue, purple, bright blue, and green with a yellow throat and bright blue lines on its fins and head.
An interesting fact about this fish is that it can slightly change color to camouflage itself or when stressed.
The size of Queen Triggerfish doesn’t exceed 24 inches. You can find this little fish on depths between 9-90 ft feeding mostly on eas urchins.
The Queen Triggerfish has very curious protection against predators. The first two dorsal spines lift and are locked until the second one is is pressed, like a trigger.
You probably didn’t expect this fish on our list, but Parrotfish is a fascinating catch!
We could not decide which one is the prettiest, so we chose all of them to be equally beautiful.
The name of the fish comes from their beak-like teeth. However, the color is also captivating, just like that of an exotic parrot.
The size of Parrotfish varies between 12-20 inches, depending on the species, although some, like Humphead Parrotfish, exceed 3ft, and others, like Bluelip Parrotfish, reach only 5 inches.
The color of the fish also differs greatly depending on the species. There is a whole rainbow of them swimming in the ocean.
Most Parrotfish are found in the coral reef, where they feed on algae growing on the coral. In fact, by eating the algae, Parrotfish protects the coral reef and keeps the algae under control.
And for those who didn’t know, interesting fact. Parrotfish grinds down coral pieces into white sand that South Pacific beaches are famous for. One adult Humphead Parrotfish can poop almost 250g of sand a day!
And although Parrotfishes’ meat is sweet, crab-like, and tasty, it’s best to release the fish back to keep the coral reef in excellent condition.
Last but not least on our list is Parrotfish cousin, Wrasse.
Our favorite species are Puddingwife Wrasse and Christmas Wrasse (or ‘Awela).
Those are, in our opinion, the most beautiful of the Wrasse family you can pull out of the ocean.
The whole family is considered small fish, most not exceeding 8 inches long, with few exceptions, like Humphead Wrasse with its 8 ft length.
One can find the Puddingwife Wrasse in the Western Atlantic Ocean at depths between 6 to 180 ft. This specific species can reach up to 20 inches long.
The Puddingwife Wrasse goes through color changes as it matures. Their color varies from blue to green with yellow caudal fin with blue lines across the length of their body and a dark spot at the base of their pectoral fin.
There is a slight distinction between female and male coloration. Females are yellow-green to blue-green, and males mostly darker blue-green with lightly colored lines.
The Christmas Wrasse (called that, thanks to its primarily red and green colors) is native to Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. It inhabits shallow waters up to 33 ft deep.
The male Christmas Wrasse, like the name suggests, has very holiday-ish colors. They range from salmon-pink to orange-red from head to tail, with green vertical stripes forming two horizontal likes along their sides.
The female Christmas Wrasse has more subdued colors than the male. They are primarily pale green or greenish-grey with a few dark blotches and a pair of dark stripes on their flanks.
Both species can be found in the aquarium trade, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fish for them in the ocean.
In fact, Christmas Wrasse, in Hawaii, also known as ‘Awela, is considered an excellent food.