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Top 10 Incredible Fishes That Glow in the Dark



Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark

The ocean is a vast and mysterious place, home to some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. Among them are fish that possess the remarkable ability to glow in the dark, creating an otherworldly and captivating sight for those lucky enough to witness it.

These bioluminescent fish have evolved a unique adaptation to help them survive in the dark depths of the ocean, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. 

In this article, we will explore the top 10 fishes that glow in the dark, each with their own fascinating story and distinctive glow. 

1. Anglerfish 

  • Scientific name: Lophiiformes
  • Size: Up to 3.3 ft
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Weight: Up to 110 pounds
Top 10 Amazing Fishes That Glow in the Dark Anglerfish 
Danté Fenolio/DEEPEND Consortium – Source: Cornell Chronicle

The Anglerfish is a deep-sea predator that is famous for its unique adaptation of bioluminescence. These fish are known for their large, protrusion on their head that acts as a lure to attract prey.

They are also one of the few fish that have bioluminescent organs on their bodies to attract both prey and potential mates.

With over 250 species, these fish live around 1000 meters below the surface and therefore their bioluminescence helps them with survival as well. 

The Anglerfish has a unique way of producing bioluminescence. The protrusion in their dorsal fin is from where the light is produced. The tip of this protrusion contains bioluminescent bacteria and these bacteria allow the anglerfish to produce their glow.

Their prey gets attracted to the light of Anglerfish only to find a home in the spiny jaws of the fish.

2. Lanternfish 

  • Scientific name: Myctophidae
  • Size: Up to 2.5 to 15 cm (some species can reach upto 30 cm)
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Weight: Up to two to six grams
Top 10 Amazing Fishes That Glow in the Dark Lanternfish 

The Lanternfish is a small, deep-sea fish that is known for its remarkable ability to produce light. These fish can reach about 30 cm in size, and their bioluminescence plays a crucial role in their survival. 

Lanternfish have special organs called photophores, which contain bioluminescent bacteria. These organs can be found in the tail, head, and abdomen.

All of the 200 species of Lanternfish can produce light and they use their bioluminescence for various things. 

Lanternfish use their ability to produce light for attracting prey, attract a mate, and hide from predators.

Therefore, this is a crucial part of their survival. Moreover, the Lanternfish can use their light as a means of communication whilst mating.

3. Midshipman Fish 

  • Scientific name: Porichthys
  • Size: Up to 15 inches long
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Weight: Up to 771 pounds
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Midshipman Fish 
Source: Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine

The Midshipman Fish is a type of fish that belongs to the toadfish family. These fishes have organs called photophores which help them produce light.

Aside from light-producing organs, they have four lateral lines in their body which distinguish them from other fishes. Also, they are nocturnal and prefer burrowing themselves under the sand during the day. 

The surprising thing about these fish is that they depend on seed shrimp for their bioluminescence.

They feed on these seed shrimps and get the required source for their ability to produce light.

Therefore, by consuming seed shrimp, some sort of reaction occurs which allows them to glow. Moreover, some species even have venomous dorsal spines. 

4. Hatchetfish

  • Scientific name: Sternoptychinae
  • Size: Up to 3 to 10 cm long
  • Diet: Small crustaceans, animal planktons
  • Weight: ???
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Hatchetfish
Source: Britannica

The Hatchetfish is a small, deep-sea fish that is known for its unique body shape and remarkable ability to produce light. These fishes are found in depths of about 1000m.

Hatchetfish is named after their distinctive body shape, which resembles a hatchet. These fishes have photophores which is an organ that produces light in their abdomen. 

They use their ability to produce light in a unique way. These fish use their illumination to create an optical illusion.

When viewed from below, the light produced by the Hatchetfish’s photophores blends in with the light coming from the surface of the ocean, making the fish almost invisible to predators. 

This is known as counter-illumination and this helps them with their survival. In addition to this, these fishes can control the color and the intensity of their light to blend in with the intensity of light coming from the surface.

5. Snail Fish 

  • Scientific name: Pseudoliparis swirei
  • Size: Up to 5 to 77 cm long
  • Diet: Omnivores (Dead plants, dead fishes, leftover food, plants, algae)
  • Weight: 11 kg
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Snail Fish 
Source: Research Gate

The Snailfish is a unique fish that occupies the cold waters of the world around Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Alaska.

These fish have adapted to survive in the cold temperatures of the ocean, and they possess some remarkable features, including their bioluminescence. Snailfish are named after their snail-like appearance, with a soft and gelatinous body, and no scales. 

They are also known as Liparis Gibbus and there are about 400 species of Snail Fish. They are not big in size and live about 200 meters below the surface.

The way these fish illuminate is unique as these fishes produce light in two different colors.

Snail fish can glow in colors red and green. It is believed that these fish can illuminate because they have evolved to survive in cold and dark waters.

6. Pineapple fish 

  • Scientific name: Cleidopus gloriamaris
  • Size: Up to 25 cm long
  • Diet: Carnivores(Shrimps)
  • Weight: 2.3 kg
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Pineapple fish 
Source: Wikipedia

The Pineapple fish, also known as the Mailfish, is a fish that is found in the coastal waters of New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.

It is named for its distinctive appearance, which resembles a pineapple, with a network of black margins running all over its body. These fish can grow up to 8 inches with rounded bodies and rough scales. 

One of the most unique features of the Pineapple fish is its bioluminescence. These fishes have photophores that contain bioluminescent bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri.

Their light changes as they grow, from green when they’re young to red as it gets older. These fishes use their illumination ability for attracting prey and communicating with similar species of fish.

They use their light to attract small shrimp which is their favorite food. 

The Pineapple fish is a unique and fascinating deep-sea fish with a distinctive appearance and impressive adaptations. Its bioluminescence plays a crucial role in its survival, allowing it to attract prey and communicate with others.

7. Dwarf Lantern Shark 

  • Scientific name: Etmopterus perryi
  • Size: Up to 6.3 to 8 inches long
  • Diet: Carnivores(Shrimps and small fish)
  • Weight: 9 kg
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Dwarf Lantern Shark 
Source: Wikipedia

The Dwarf Lantern Shark is the smallest known species of shark, reaching only about 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

It is found in deep waters of about 1500 feet in the Caribbean Sea and off the northern coast of South America.

Despite its small size, the Dwarf Lantern Shark possesses a unique feature that sets it apart from other sharks – bioluminescence. 

In deep dark waters, they glow with the presence of photophores in their abdomen. They primarily use their illumination for protection and diet.

With their light, they attract small fishes and shrimps. Moreover, they use their light to be safe from predators as well. They also have large eyes that help them see properly in deep dark waters.

8. Dragonfish

  • Scientific name: Stomiidae
  • Size: Up to 12.6 inches long
  • Diet: Carnivores(small invertebrates, insect larvae, insects, planktons)
  • Weight: 13 to 15 grams
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Dragonfish
Source: Marine Madness

The Dragonfish is a deep-sea fish found in the North and Western Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is known for its unique bioluminescent adaptations, which allow it to survive and thrive in the dark depths of the ocean.

Dragonfish has a long, slender body with a large head and a long barbel below its mouth.

They have a dark, almost black coloration that helps them blend into their deep-sea environment and has pointy sets of teeth. But what truly sets the Dragonfish apart is its bioluminescence. 

The tips of their barbel have photophores and with them, they can produce light. They also contain photophores at the sides of their body.

The light these Dragonfish produce is red in color, and they use their illumination for eating prey and attracting mates. Therefore, they highly rely on their light for their survival.

9. Flashlight Fish 

  • Scientific name: Anomalopidae
  • Size: Up to 4 to 12 inches long
  • Diet: Zooplanktons
  • Weight: ???
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Flashlight Fish 
Source: Reef2reef

The Flashlight fish, also known as lantern eye fish, is a small fish that can grow up to 30 cm, found in the Indo-Pacific region and the Caribbean Sea. It is named for its bioluminescent adaptations, which allow it to produce light and is a tool for its survival.

There are a total of 3 species of this fish and two of the species swim around the Indo-Pacific and the last one is found in the Caribbean Sea. 

As its name suggests, they have bioluminescent bacteria below their eyes. Each species can control the intensity of the light in its way. Some can even cover and open the organ to create a flickering show of light.

These fishes swim mostly on the shallow side of waters and are one of the few light-producing fish species that live in shallow waters.

10. Kitefin Shark 

  • Scientific name: Dalatias licha
  • Size: Up to 5.2 feet to 6 feet
  • Diet: Deepwater fishes, skates, small sharks, squids, octopus, lobsters
  • Weight: 18 pounds
Top 10 incredible fishes that glow in the dark Kitefin Shark 
Source: Twitter/Leogaskins

The kitefin shark is a species of shark found in deep waters around the world. It has a slender, elongated body that can reach up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length.

They live in depths between 650 to 3000 feet and hardly come in the reaches of the sun’s rays. These are the largest species of shark that can produce light. 

One of the most fascinating features of the kitefin shark is its bioluminescence. The way they illuminate has left scientists baffled. Moreover, these sharks produce blue light and with this color of light, they can blend in the waters flawlessly.

They produce their light using hormones known as Melatonin. Kitefin shark uses their light for attracting food and mates. They attract food like shrimp and squid with their light. 


In conclusion, the world of bioluminescent fishes is an incredible and fascinating one. From the eerie glow of the anglerfish’s lure to the flashing lights of the flashlight fish, the ability to produce light is an important adaptation that has evolved in many deep-sea species.

The fishes on this list represent just a small sample of the diversity of bioluminescent marine life, and they serve as a reminder of the vast and mysterious world that lies beneath the ocean’s surface. 

The glowing lights of these fishes are not only beautiful to behold but also serve important functions in their survival and communication.

As we continue to explore and study the deep sea, there is no doubt that we will uncover even more amazing and mysterious creatures that light up the darkness of the deep. 

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