You Won’t Believe These 11 Amazing Examples of Fish with Big Lips

Fish with Big Lips

One of its defining characteristics is a fish’s eye-catching colors and unique patterns. But quite a few fish species have huge, protruding lips. 

Our minds have inevitably wandered to the question of which animals possess the most succulent lips. Well, fish might be the answer!

Fish with big lips may be able to scare away potential predators or use them as a mating strategy. 

The variety of species, sizes, and colors among these fish makes them a fascinating addition to any fish lover’s tank.

What follows is a guide to 11 species of fish known for their big lips. 

So let’s dive in!

Why Do Fish Have Big Lips?

The shape of each lip, as well as the teeth, reflects the dietary habits of the fish. 

Generally, the upper and lower lips are skinny, while sometimes they’re absent. The reasons for fish having big lips are:

  • Thick, fleshy lips play no significant role in the process of feeding, but they are primarily witnessed in fish that extract food from sources.
  • Lips obviously contribute to the appeal of any fish, but their main purpose is collecting food by plucking it. 
  • According to one theory, fish with more giant lips may have an advantage when competing for food with smaller lips in the same ecological niche.
  • Big-lipped fish are better able to deter would-be predators, increasing their chances of survival.

Fish with Big Lips

The ocean is full of fish with enormous mouths. Some of these things are visible to us, while others remain hidden. Biologists believe that the extended lips of some fish, commonly known as bow mouth fish, have evolved for better-exploiting food supplies and aiding communication and defense. 

We looked into which fish have big lips and came up with a list of 11 fish and where you can find them. That being said, let’s get to know them one by one.

1. Piranha

blue piranha fish mouth opening under water
Image credit: Elizaveta Obukhova, Shutterstock

Wildlife Sanctuary: The Amazon, South American rivers and lakes, and those in Western Brazil.

  • The Piranha is a controversially aggressive fish due to its visage and razor-sharp teeth; it is also known as the Caribe and the Piraya.
  • Some of the most sought-after species reach a length of 12 inches and have a silvery sheen and a greenish underbelly.
  • Though they have a fearsome reputation, Piranha fish may be safely kept in an aquarium without fear of assault.
  • Piranha has thick lips, making it look ravenous. 
  • Although they are primarily herbivorous, they will also eat nuts, fruits, and plants.
  • Common types have silvery upper surfaces and a greenish underbelly and can grow up to 12 inches long.

2. Triggerfish

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in tropical water sources worldwide, especially in the ocean.

  • This vibrant marine creature favors the shallow outer reefs, where it is frequently spotted.
  • Triggerfish mouths are notable for their large lips despite their slender and lengthy bodies compared to other triggerfish species due to their rich blue to deep purple coloring.
  • The little fish with huge lips really have a tiny mouth.
  • They can be found in oceans all around the world, but the Indo-West Pacific, the Red Sea, and the waters near Japan are particularly rich in them. 
  • This fish may be seen from a distance since it lives on shallow outer reefs.
  • Triggerfish, sometimes called barracuda pufferfish due to their capacity to inflate themselves, are a popular sight in aquariums. 
  • Their hues range from inky black to inky blue.
  • Because of their trainability, triggerfish make excellent pets.

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3. Pacu

Wildlife Sanctuary: Originally from the tropical seas of western Brazil and South America, it is also located in New Guinea.

  • The Pacu comes from the same family as the Piranha, the Serrasalmidae.
  • Despite their superficial similarities, the Pacu and the other species have quite diverse diets.
  • Pacu is also a big lips fish, like Piranha.
  • The Pacu can reach larger sizes than the Piranha, with some specimens reaching lengths of 3 feet or more and weighing up to 100 pounds.
  • The Pacu is not as sociable as other mammals, and they can develop a strong sense of territoriality as they age.
  • Many Pacu are really bland in color, being either gray or white, which isn’t what you’d expect from an aquarium fish.

4. Carp

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in rivers all across the globe.

  • The term “carp” may refer to several different kinds of fish, all of which share the characteristic of having thick lips.
  • Carps are robust fish, but many avoid keeping them because of their destructive eating habits. Being big-lipped helps there.
  • Although they originated in Europe and Asia, these freshwater fish have become a serious problem in both North America and Africa after being imported there.
  • Carp are unique among fish species in that they can survive in environments with low oxygen levels, such as water that has been covered by ice or is stagnant and does not get a constant supply of oxygen.
  • The Carp’s ability to thrive in low-oxygen seas with floating ice sets them apart from other fish.

5. Koi

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in marshes and ponds across Asia, especially near Japan.

  • Koi are a kind of Carp, despite their appearance, which may remind you of a large goldfish.
  • Besides their big lips, the distinctive patterns on the Koi fish’s scales and their long, illustrious history really set them apart as charming pets.
  • These common fish are highly sought after because of their adaptability (they’ll eat just about everything), ease of maintenance, and longevity.
  • They are resilient, sociable, and docile. Therefore, they may be found in aquariums all around the globe.

6. Humphead Wrasse

Humphead Wrasse underwater
Image credit: Subphoto, Shutterstock

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in tropical waters, including the Red Sea, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. 

  • The Humphead Wrasse is a large fish that has thick lips.
  • They are also called Napoleon fish or Napoleon wrasse. The scientific name is Cheilinus Undulatus.
  • The Humphead wrasse can grow to 6 feet long and weigh 400 pounds.
  • Humphead wrasse is unusual because they are born female, and some individuals change to males when they mature.
  • The fish matures very slowly, becoming adults at age 5 or 6.
  • These fish are a pet fish lover’s top choice because of their beautiful structure and amazing color.

7. Paddle Tail Snapper

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in the Western and Indian oceans.

  • The Paddletail Snapper, found in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, is a fascinating fish due to its large lips and distinctive paddle-like tail fin.
  • The paddle-tail snapper is a reef fish that often hangs out in deep lagoons with another paddle-tail snapper and other reef fish in big groups called aggregations.
  • The paddle-tail snapper is a reef-dwelling species found in tropical seas.
  • This wide-mouthed mariner eats just about everything, from algae to shrimp.
  • The fish, however, may be found in aquariums.
  • This fish is a sight with its bold lips and striking red and black stripes.

8. Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid

Closeup shot of Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid
Image credit: zeynep ozorpak, Shutterstock

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in lakes around the world.

  • Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid is a fantastic specimen of a big-lipped fish.
  • This fish’s bright colors and unique design make it a popular choice for aquariums.
  • Among the roughly 2,000 kinds of cichlids, the Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlid is the most well-known for its large, thick lips.
  • Red Shoulder Peacock Cichlids may be found in lakes on rocky beaches and sandy bottoms.
  • The fish come in a rainbow of hues, from bright blue and scarlet to subtler tones of gray and light brown.

9. Flowerhorn Fish

Wildlife Sanctuary: None. Bred in captivity. 

  • Flowerhorns are the most artificially successful of their species, having been developed for their aesthetic qualities rather than their taste.
  • They often have scales of many hues, including red, white, black, yellow, blue, and more.
  • The large size of a Flowerhorn’s head is proportional to the size of its lips.
  • The most notable feature is the round part of their head, the fan-shaped tail fin, and the dorsal one that runs across the fish’s back and gigantic lips.
  • Fish tanks adorn these aquatic beauties because of their high demand as aquarium pets.
  • Flowerhorns consume plant matter and arthropods, such as worms and insects, for food.
  • They are produced specifically for the aquarium trade because of their stunning appearance.

10. Gourami

Wildlife Sanctuary: They are found in freshwater around Asia.

  • Gouramis can get quite large, reaching a maximum size of around 12 inches.
  • Because of their large and thick lips, gouramis frequently kiss one another, especially before mating or battle.
  • Gourami can be fed frozen worms and insects if housed in an aquarium.
  • For breathing and survival, the Gourami relies on its labyrinth organ, which helps it adapt to environments with low oxygen levels.
  • When it comes to aquariums, Gouramis are among the most recommended species because of their hardiness and low maintenance requirements.
  • But you may not want to keep Gouramis in a community aquarium with other fish because they can develop aggressive tendencies and even attack other fish.

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11. Queensland Grouper

Wildlife Sanctuary: Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

  • Despite its mechanical frame, the Queensland Grouper’s large, plump lips are immediately recognizable.
  • Being a strict carnivore, it feeds exclusively on other fish and marine mammals, such as sea turtles and smaller fish.
  • It’s one of the largest fish around, with a maximum size of 2.5 meters in length and 360 kilograms in weight.
  • Its yellow and brown markings aren’t quite as vibrant as those of the other fish on our list.


Don’t be shocked if you see a fish species with big lips the next time you go scuba diving or stay at a hotel with an aquarium, because now you know fish with big lips can exist! If you are looking for a new addition to your aquarium, some fish with big lips could be a wonderful choice.

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