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What is the cutest fish in the world?

What is the cutest fish in the world?

Determining the cutest fish in the world is no easy task. With over 34,000 known species of fish inhabiting our oceans, rivers, and lakes, there are countless contenders for the title. Some stand out for their vibrant colors, others for their diminutive sizes, and still more for their charming behaviors and mannerisms. In this article, we will explore some of the prime candidates that just may be the cutest fish around.

What makes a fish cute?

When labeling any animal as “cute”, there are a few key characteristics that tend to sway our perception:

  • Bright, vibrant colors
  • Big eyes relative to body size
  • Round, chubby body shape
  • Playful, inquisitive behavior
  • Small size

Fish that exhibit one or more of these traits instinctively strike us as cute and appeal to our inner adoration. The following fish all have several “cute” features that make them top contenders for the cutest fish title.


With its vivid orange and electric blue stripes, the mandarinfish truly dazzles. This fish measures just 2 inches long as an adult and dwells in the tropical coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean. Its body has a short, stocky shape accentuated by large, protruding eyes. The mandarinfish tends to be very shy and often hides amongst reef crevices. But its striking coloration and pudgy body makes it a leading cute fish.

Scientific Name Synchiropus splendidus
Maximum Size 2 inches
Habitat Tropical coral reefs

Dwarf Goby

One of the smallest fish in the ocean, the dwarf goby reaches just 1 inch in length as an adult. Its tiny body is complemented by a large head and eyes, giving it an undeniably cute appearance. The fish can be found in various bright colors like yellow, blue, and orange. Dwarf gobies tend to perch on coral outcroppings and will retreat to burrows when threatened. Their pint-size and vibrant nature makes them adorably cute.

Scientific Name Eviota spp.
Maximum Size 1 inch
Habitat Coral reefs worldwide

Clown Anemonefish

Thanks to the popular Disney film Finding Nemo, the clown anemonefish is one of the most recognizable fish worldwide. It lives up to its name with a bright orange body accented with three white bands and a cute face. Growing up to 4 inches long, the clown anemonefish makes its home within sea anemones in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. Its eyes are disproportionately large compared to its body. When swimming, it tends to move in a clumsy, charming manner. The clown anemonefish makes a strong case for cutest fish consideration.

Scientific Name Amphiprion ocellaris
Maximum Size 4 inches
Habitat Tropical coral reefs

Yellow Tang

Swimming in Hawaii’s coral reefs is the vibrant yellow tang. With its bright yellow and white fins, it brings a burst of color to any aquarium or reef ecosystem. The yellow tang reaches about 6 inches in length and has a laterally compressed oval body. Its large dark eyes stand out against its lemon-yellow coloring. While the yellow tang is larger than other contenders, its radiant coloration and cute face bring it into the cute fish conversation.

Scientific Name Zebrasoma flavescens
Maximum Size 6 inches
Habitat Hawaiian coral reefs

Banggai Cardinalfish

The Banggai cardinalfish inhabits the tropical coral reefs of Indonesia and has a truly unique look. Its elongated body is black with three stark white bars. It has oversized eyes and long, flowing fins. The fish grows to about 3 inches long and tends to perch on reef outcrops. When swimming, the Banggai cardinalfish trails its fins behind it in an elegant, charming fashion. With its cute face and graceful movements, it warrants inclusion on the cute fish list.

Scientific Name Pterapogon kauderni
Maximum Size 3 inches
Habitat Coral reefs of Indonesia

Dojo Loach

The dojo loach is a freshwater species found in Japan and parts of China. It reaches just 4 inches in length and inhabits ponds, streams, and rice paddies. The fish has a chubby, rounded body shape colored brown with gold and black splotches. When viewed head-on, the dojo loach’s face has a cute puppy dog appearance, with a small downturned mouth. It’s inquisitive and peaceful nature adds to its charm. For its attractive colors and endearing face, the dojo loach deserves cute fish honors.

Scientific Name Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
Maximum Size 4 inches
Habitat Freshwater ponds and streams


Determining a single winner for the cutest fish award is no simple task. When considering vibrant colors, expressive eyes, charming behaviors and pint-sized bodies, many fish make compelling cases. The mandarinfish, dwarf goby, clown anemonefish, yellow tang, Banggai cardinalfish, and dojo loach are certainly top contenders. But with so many gorgeous and endearing fish inhabiting Earth’s waters, the quest for the “cutest fish” title remains open for friendly debate. The sheer diversity of aquatic life provides plenty of cute fish candidates to admire.