Fish are creatures with unusual features. So, while scuba diving, or if you visit some prominent hotels with aquariums nearby, don’t act surprised when you come across some types of fish with big lips.
According to biologists, some types of fish, also called bowmouth fish, have developed elongated lips to exploit food resources better and help the fish in communication and defense.
If you’re a fish enthusiast, these types of fish are sure to capture your imagination as they come in different species, sizes, and colors – an excellent addition to your home aquarium.
And in this post, you’ll learn pretty much about 13+ types of fish with big lips including where you can find them while traveling.
13+ Types of Fish With Big Lips
1. Sweetlips Fish
Coming from the Grunt family, the first on our list is Sweetlips fish.
Sweetlips fish have prominent big lips, and you’ll find them traversing the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. While on an adventure tour, you can spot these fish on coastal reefs and even in shallow warm waters.
As one of the biggest edible fish, Sweetlips Fish can grow up to 70 centimeters and weigh about 1.5 kilograms. Their diet consists of shrimps, worms, and tiny fish.
Beautiful to watch, alongside the elongated lips, is their mixture of vibrant scales with colors ranging from gray, black, yellow, brown, and white.
Sweetlips are, however, difficult to raise in aquariums and captivity as they’re not hardy.
2. Humphead Wrasse
Also called Napoleon fish or Napoleon wrasse, the Humphead Wrasse is a massive fish with gigantic lips.
As a saltwater fish, the Humphead Wrasse prefers tropical waters, and you’ll find them in many oceans worldwide, including the Red Sea, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Living in coral reefs, these fish eat worms, crabs, small fish, and shrimps.
For pet fish enthusiasts, Napoleon fish are probably the best fish you can keep. While very social, they also mysteriously change color, from light blue to dark green. If that hasn’t surprised you, the color also varies according to mood, age, and gender! And to make them even more unusual, they can change their gender as they mature.
However, Napoleon fish mature slowly in about 5-6 years. But that’s understandable, as they can reach about 1.5 meters long, weighing 10Kgs.
Also called caribe or Piraya, Piranha is a very well-known fish because of their big lips and partly because they’re controversially ferocious, thanks to their bulldog-like face and razor-sharp teeth.
You’ll find piranha swimming in the Amazon and other slow-moving rivers and lakes of South America and Western Brazil. In the wild, these fish are opportunistic, feeding on aquatic and land animals that find their way to the water. Some dishes on their menu are small fish, mollusks, birds, and insects.
But despite their ferocious reputation, you can keep Piranha fish in an aquarium as they don’t attack humans. And while they’re carnivores, you can feed them nuts, fruits, and plants, but avoid giving them live feeder fish such as goldfish. Popular varieties are silver with greenish undersides and can grow to a length of 12 inches.
Pacu is a relative of Piranha, so you can rightly guess it’s also big-lipped.
Like Piranha, Pacu inhabits the tropical waters of western Brazil and South America, although the fish have been introduced to different parts of the world, including New Guinea. And while they resemble each other, they’ve different feeding habits, with the Pacu having plants on their menu. Pacu also grows larger than Piranha to reach a length of more than 3 feet, weighing about 100 pounds.
What’s more, Pacu are not as social as their counterparts and can get territorial as they mature. And unlike many fish kept in an aquarium, Pacu is not particularly colorful, with many being gray or white.
Also called the European Carp, Carp is a large-scaled freshwater fish with elongated lips and is native to Eurasia. But because people like these fish for food, you can now find Carp worldwide.
Although Carp comes in a variety of colors, they usually range from brownish silver to brassy green. They also grow large, reaching over 3 feet in length.
They are omnivores, meaning they munch on anything edible you throw at them. But, although hardy, due to its destructive feeding habits, many people find Carp undesirable to keep. It’s also an invasive fish that likes to live alone or in small schools.
What’s unusual about the Carp, besides their gigantic lips, is they can live happily in low-oxygen waters with ice on top.
Closely related to Carp, the Koi fish is native to Asia, inhabiting freshwater lakes, marshes, and ponds in most areas of Japan.
You’ll also find them worldwide in aquariums because they’re hardy, social, and docile. And to make the Koi fish great endearing pets, other than their big lips, is the unique coloring of their scales and lineage. That’s why these fish are popular in many outdoor ponds.
The Koi are omnivores, feeding on anything from crustaceans to small fish, plants to dead matter, and can live for around 25-35 years!
7. Paddletail Snapper
Inhibiting the Indian and western pacific oceans, Paddletail Snapper is an exciting fish with not only its paddle-like tail fin, but also its big lips.
Unlike many fish you can spot while diving or near the ocean, Paddletail Snapper prefers to swim in deep lagoons with large schools of fish of their type. You can, however, find the fish in aquariums.
It’s an exciting fish to watch, with its colorful red and black markings alongside the prominent lips. It’s an omnivorous fish, meaning it can feed on anything, from plants to small crustaceans.
Native to Asia, Gouramis are freshwater fish you’ll find swimming in slow-moving or shallow and stagnant waters.
Gouramis have big lips, which they use to kiss their mates, especially when fighting or mating.
Like sweetlips fish, Gouramis can grow large, reaching a length of about 12 inches. And as omnivorous fish, on their menu, you’ll find young plants, worms, and insects. If you keep them in an aquarium, you can also feed Gourami frozen worms and insects.
Talking of keeping Gouramis in aquariums, these types of fish are hardy and easy to care for, making great pets. You’ll love their endearing looks thanks to their shiny, green color. There is also some albino variety of Gouramis which you can buy online. But because Gouramis can develop aggressive tendencies and often attack other fish, you may not want to keep them alongside other community fish.
9. Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid
While Cichlids encompass approximately 2000 species, the most known cichlids with a pair of big, thick lips are Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlids.
In lakes, you’ll find the tiny (can only grow to about 5 cm) Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid on rocky shores and sandy bottoms, feeding on anything they can find as omnivorous fish. And unlike what its name suggests, its color varies from red and blue to light brown and gray. Their shiny scales pull a glittering effect under the sunlight to make them fascinating.
While Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid are peaceful, you’ll rarely see them in aquariums as they’re also aggressive when you introduce a different fish into their territory.
Triggerfish are a worldwide fish inhabiting tropical waters, especially oceans. You can easily spot the fish as it prefers the shallow outer reefs. As the Triggerfish is thin and long (about 30 cm when mature), the big lips of this fish are one of its standout features.
Thanks to their unique ability to inflate themselves, the Triggerfish are also called barracuda pufferfish and are very common in aquariums. Their color varies from deep purple to dark blue. They make great pets as you can train the triggerfish to perform tricks! However, if you touch them carelessly, they’ll hurt you with their sharp spines.
11. Queensland Grouper
The Queensland Grouper features a robotic body with fleshy, big lips.
It’s one of the giant fish, as it can grow to a length of 2.5 meters and weigh astonishingly 360 kilograms! But it’s not as colorful as many fish on our list, with only a mixture of yellow and brown patterns.
12. Flowerhorn fish
Flowerhorns have big heads, which are directly proportional to their lips. And unlike others in our list, you can’t find Flowerhorn fish naturally in water bodies.
Because of their beauty, the fish are kept in fish tanks. Their colorful scales range from white, yellow, blue, black, and red. The diet of Flowerhorns consists of plants and small animals such as worms and insects. They are, however, hard to maintain as they need extra attention, as you have to equip their tanks with filter systems and other practices.
13. Big-lip damselfish
As the name suggests, Big-lip damselfish has big, protruding lips, which play a big part in catching prey, while it also makes the fish exciting to watch when scuba diving.
As a tropical fish, it inhabits Indo-pacific areas, mostly swimming in rocky coral reefs while looking for food, which includes worms, crabs, plankton, and algae.
It boasts bright colors, including red, purple, blue, red, green, orange, and yellow.
14. Freshwater Angelfish
Not to be confused with Saltwater Angelfish (they’re not related), Freshwater Angelfish comes in three different species, whose mouths resemble that of a bird but with prominent astonishing big lips.
While Freshwater Angelfish are naturally limited to Amazon and its tributaries, you can find them in aquariums as they’re easy to raise in captivity.
Like Humphead Wrasse, Freshwater Angelfish are mysterious fish. But their mysteriousness lies in refusing to mate and breed if their partner is absent (by removal or death).