Rare & Exotic Saltwater Fish (Most Expensive in the Hobby)

Owning a rare and exotic saltwater fish has always been some kind of prestige in this hobby. 

As your knowledge and passion for the hobby progress, your appetites grow bigger. 

It’s starting to become an obsession. 

Suddenly, you are not just an average hobbyist. 

Not at all. 

Now, you are looking for something rare to buy, something exotic, something different than the others have. 

For most of us, buying the most expensive saltwater fish out there is not a viable option. 

But for those that can, and are willing to spend some bucks, or explore the hobby in a different way, I’ve made a list of the rarest and most exotic saltwater fish in the aquarium trade. 

Even if you are not into expensive saltwater aquarium fish, stay. 

We will learn together about these fascinating animals.

expensive saltwater fish


Most Expensive Saltwater Aquarium Fish 

Before we proceed with the list of rarest saltwater fish in the aquarium trade lets clear some things out. By no means, rare saltwater fish equals expensive saltwater fish. Or rare in the aquarium hobby means that’s rare in the wild. 

No. It simply means some fish are hard to find, hard to catch or hard to take care of. Now, on the list. 

1. Candy Basslet 

The Candy Basslet (Liopropoma carmabi) is a saltwater fish from a larger family of sea basses, groupers, and reef basslets. 

Growing to around 3 inches, these little guys should be kept at least 30 gallons tanks. Avoid using a bright light (they are shy), use a lot of live rocks, and make sure you have a lid on your tank. 

Given its price of approximately 1000 dollars, you don’t want to see a dead fish on the floor. 

You are probably wondering why such a small, and easy to care for fish has that big price tag. 

Mostly because the cost to find them in the wild is too big. They inhabit caves and crevices difficult to reach. 

In terms of requirements, the Candy Basslet is easy to take care of. 

If you want saltwater fish that is rare, beautiful and easy to keep than the Candy Basslet might be a good choice for you. 

2. Clarion Angelfish 

Another rare and exotic saltwater aquarium fish on this list is the Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis).

These species of saltwater angelfish are native to the Pacific coast of Mexico, where can be found in depths from 3 to 30 meters deep. 

It can reach up to around 8 inches in length, so you should consider keeping it in at least 180 gallons tanks. The Clarion Angelfish is an aggressive saltwater fish, so avoid keeping it with other peaceful species. 

They will thrive in well-established aquariums with plenty of algae to eat.

Be careful, they are not a reef safe fish. Keeping them with corals will do more damage than good. 

These beautiful fish have a higher price tag in the aquarium trade. They are bred in captivity, but even though, their prices often exceed over 5000 dollars. Mainly because they were classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN and now require special permits to be imported or exported. 

However, if you are enthusiastic about keeping rare saltwater fish, and you have the proper knowledge and resources, the Clarion Angelfish might be a good choice for you.

3. Golden Angelfish 

The Golden Angelfish (Centropyge aurantia), also known as the Aurinatus Angelfish is an exotic saltwater fish primarily found in the shallow reefs of the western Pacific Ocean. 

These fish don’t share the same price tag as the others on this list. Well, they are still expensive, reaching up to 300 dollars per specimen. 

The Golden Angelfish is a prestige fish in this hobby for several reasons. They have incredible red color, they are hard to find in the wild, and they are difficult to breed in captivity. 

In terms of requirements, they are difficult to take care of and require advance knowledge in this hobby. Growing to around 4 inches in length, it requires a bare minimum of a 55-gallon tank. 

In general, they are peaceful but you need to be careful if you are keeping them with corals. They are known to nip at LPS and SPS corals. 

If you are into exotic saltwater fish, but you don’t want to spend too much, then the Golden Angelfish is a great choice for you. 

4. Peppermint Angelfish 

And we are here.

To the holy grail of marine angelfish, as often referred by many hobbyists. 

The Peppermint Angelfish (Centropyge boylei). 

Did you know that the Peppermint Angelfish has an amazing price tag of 30 thousand dollars?

If you are interested to see this rare specimen in life, the Waiikki Aquarium in Hawaii has one. 

It was discovered by Charles (Chip) Boyle, and it’s mostly found at depths of 300 to 400 feet. 

Why this dwarf angelfish is so rare and expensive you might ask.

Well, diving at that depts is quite difficult. The divers have limited time to collect these precious saltwater fish. Not to mention, they are not making their lives easier, hiding among the rocks. 

If you are interested to learn more about this fascinating fish read this article on Liveaquaria. 

Final thoughts 

I know what you’re thinking… 

Who, with a clear mind, will spend that much on a single fish. 

I know I won’t (not yet). 

However, I think owning rare specimens, taking care of them and exploring their behaviors is a great joy by its own. 

Now, I like to hear from you:

Will you ever spend that much on a single fish? 

Or maybe you’ve already done it. 

Let me know in the comment section below. 

Featured Image: Elias Levy  CC BY 2.0

Leave a Comment