Fish With Sharp Teeth

You don’t have to go to the Amazon to find exotic species of fish that will bite your fingers off or at the very least slice them up if you get too close to their mouths but there are Fresh and Saltwater fish that most of us have dealt with that have sharp nasty teeth and will use them if hungry or threatened. What fish have the sharpest teeth?

Alligator Gar-2 rows of the razor-sharp teeth
Tiger Muskies -100’s brush-like teeth & large canines
Walley-30-40 canine teeth- front of their mouth

Bluefish- vicious-razor-sharp teeth
Pacific lingcod-18 large & 555 tiny needle-sharp teeth
Barracuda- monster fangs with 140 to 220 teeth

Predatory fish considered carnivores have teeth that are designed to puncture, hold on to, and cut their prey whereas most fish that eat plants herbivores have teeth that are more suited for shredding things such as algae and plant life.

Do All Fish Have Teeth

All fresh and saltwater fish have teeth. Even aquarium pet goldfish and other small species have them and hide their teeth near the back of their throats.

These teeth are called Pharyngeal teeth. These teeth are located at the back of the throat by a number of other fish species that otherwise lack teeth in their mouths. Many popular aquarium fish such as goldfish have these teeth.

Similar to shark teeth,  Most fish that have numerous numbers of teeth like the Goldfish, lose and replace teeth throughout their lifetime. Used for crushing the food they are eating and swallowing. Some fish species have teeth on their lips close to their mouth openings.

Fish that feed on plant life and algae have teeth that are designed for cutting into vegetation and breaking it down. These fish rely on teeth called incisors.

Different species of fish have different types of teeth, such as the sheepshead fish, which has molars in two rows in the lower jaw and three rows in the upper jaw. Herbivorous fish use their incisor teeth like birds use their beaks.

Researchers who study fish believe that fish developed teeth over time from scales on the lips. The scales evolved into teeth over the years based on the species’ habitat and diet. A fish’s teeth are like a human’s in that:

  • Both fish and human teeth have enamel and dentin covering a pulp cavity with blood and nerves.
  • Some fish, such as the sheepshead, can have a set of incisors and molars that look eerily like a human’s mouth or teeth.
  • Fish don’t have permanent teeth and will lose then replace them in their lifetime

Carnivorous fish depend on ingesting protein by eating other species of fish in the water, insects, and other live animals to survive. Because of this, they have teeth that look like what we would expect a predator’s teeth to look like.

This would include canine teeth for grabbing and holding prey and incisors for grinding down the fleshSome Carnivorous fish have large, flat molar-type teeth which are used for crushing up food covered with shells, such as snails or small crabs.

We can’t talk about fish with teeth without including the Shark.

Sharks- Like most other fish, sharks have teeth used to grip onto prey. These teeth can be made of different materials, including cartilage, calcium phosphate a chemical found in bones and teeth, or keratin the same material making up your nails. 

Most shark species have multiple rows of teeth that are constantly being replaced as they fall out. When a tooth falls out, it is immediately replaced with a new one. It is widespread for sharks to lose several hundred teeth in their lifetime. 

Saltwater Fish with Teeth

Blue Fish the Power Sharp Teeth Fish. | by FISHSURFING Travel Inspiration | Medium

 Bluefish-If you were going to vote on a Saltwater nastiest fish with the sharpest teeth in the ocean, one ranks immediately and that’s the Atlantic bluefish.

The nasty Bluefish is found from Maine to Florida. They are highly migratory along the U.S. Atlantic coast and seasonally move. On the east coast, they are a popular fish for saltwater anglers like myself.

 If you ever caught one then you know how razor-sharp their teeth are and how difficult they can be to bring in and take off the hook. If your hands or fingers come even close to their mouth then you’ll pay the price.

A fun species to learn to ocean fish and not bad on the grill but a dangerous violent creature to deal with until it’s on ice. They range from a few pounds to 30 lb slammers.

Bluefish have razor-sharp teeth and shearing jaws that allow them to ingest large parts, increasing the maximum size of the prey they can eat.

They eat squid and fish, particularly menhaden, and smaller fish such as silversides-I’ve seen them hit beer cans thrown off a fishing boat this nasty fish will eat their young when hungry

Pacific lingcod

 Pacific lingcod– A fish called the Pacific lingcod has one of nature’s toothiest mouths, Lingcod has 18 large sharp teeth. Now, a new study suggests that these fish lose teeth as fast as they grow them.

This fish is known to have the toothiest mouth, with about 555 teeth tiny near-microscopic teeth lining its two sets of jaws in the mouth.

 A predatory fish found in North Pacific and at maturity can reach 20″ in length but has been found to reach up to 5 ft. in length and weigh as much as 80 lbs. 

You can normally find lingcod in the Gulf of Alaska and Baja, California,  British Columbia, and Washington also boast quite an abundant supply of lingcod.

They live on rocky seafloor. They are also known for their strange-looking large heads and mouths; that is why they are nicknamed “Buckethead.”

Barracuda - Sharp-toothed Speedster | Animal Pictures and Facts |

 Barracuda-the barracuda is a fierce hunter, a very popular saltwater food & game fish that is targeted by anglers all around the world.

It is known for its awesome speed and ferociousness in the ocean as well as for its super sharp and monster looking-like teeth. 

 The Barracuda’s inner row, on both the upper and lower jaw, is made up of fewer, but much larger fang-like teeth that the predator uses to grip, hold and pierce its prey.

This fierce predator can have anything from 140 to 220 of those teeth in its mouth, depending on the size of the individual species The scary-looking barracuda has two sets, or rows of teeth, which make it the perfect predator.

The outer row, which is found on its upper jaw, contains plenty of small, needle-like teeth used for shredding and severing its dinnerVery few Barracuda attacks are on record but this guy is on the list for the scariest ocean fish especially if you hook one and try to deal with it.

The amount of oxygen dissolved in a stream or lake’s water can indicate a lot about the water’s quality and how well it can sustain the smallest to the largest aquatic life testing how much is present is important for the overall condition of any body of water throughout the world.

  Oxygen is necessary for aquatic life, like flies, insects, plants & and assorted species of fish like Trout & Bass replenished and as healthy as possible with the right amount of oxygen. Read our article called  How much Oxygen do fish need?


Freshwater Fish With Teeth

Alligator Gar Mandibular Or Maxilarly Fragment With Teeth
Alligator Gar Fish

Alligator Gar Fish- If you’ve been down south fishing then you have heard or seen one of these prehistoric creatures lurking in the weedline of a lake or stream. The alligator gar bears no relation to alligators, but with its wide, crocodilian head and razor-sharp teeth, it’s easy to see how this giant fish got its name.

Considered the largest freshwater fish,  It can grow up to 10 feet long, and historical reports suggest it may grow to weigh nearly 350 pounds.

This makes it the largest fish species in North America that spends almost all its time in freshwater. The Gar lives in the sluggish pools and backwaters of large rivers, swamps, bayous, and lakes.

The alligator’s neck has two rows of teeth. The inner row of the teeth is longer than the palatine and outer row of teeth. The Alligator Gar’s teeth are long, slender, and like a fan, enabling these fish to peel and hold prey.

How and where to catch tiger muskies in Idaho | Idaho Statesman
Tiger Muskie

Tiger Muskie- These freshwater fish can be intimidating if you meet up with them they attack anything in and on the water with their huge rack of teeth.

If you have seen ducks or geese swimming on the shallows of a lake with one of their limbs missing then most likely there was a muskie on the edge of the water and ate it for dinner. A muskie’s head has a flat, duck-billed shape that is designed for grabbing its prey and then swallowing it head-first.

Most muskies have probably hundreds of smaller brush-like teeth that they use for gripping their prey as they swallow them.

The main teeth that are used when hunting are the large canines that can be found on the outer rows of both the upper and lower jaw, angled inward at a slight angle instead of being completely vertical.

Each type of tooth in a muskie’s mouth performs a specific task. Once a musky catches its prey in its canines it will use the rest of its teeth to grip the prey and turn it so as to swallow it head first.

There are stories of Tiger Muskie attacks on people and with one look at these guys, you may not want to swim in the water or even tangle your feet off your boat.

Walleye locations in Lake Pend Oreille in July | Idaho Fish and Game
The Walleye

Walleye– The Walleye fish are carnivorous, and as and have rows of long canine teeth, which impressively protrude from the upper and lower jaws.

On average, Walleye fish have between 30 and 40 canine teeth, depending on the size of the fish, so some can have even more.

These long canine teeth of a Walley can measure around half an inch in length. Walleye fish don’t usually intentionally bite, so there is a very low chance of you ever getting bitten by a Walleye fish unless you stick your finger in its mouth. Use pliers hold them correctly under the gill plate and remove the hook if you catch one

They have a group of larger teeth at the front of their mouth used for grabbing prey and throughout their life continuously renew them, so they can shed their teeth and regrow them, similar to sharks.

They have shorter teeth in between the long canine teeth, with even smaller ones inside the mouth cavity and on the surface of the gill rakers.

Most fish has a set of jaws that opens and closes the mouth and a second set of pharyngeal jaws that are positioned at the back of the throat. The oral jaws have canine teeth that are used to capture and manipulate prey by biting and grabbing.

The pharyngeal jaws, so-called because they are positioned in the throat, are used to further process the food and move it from the mouth to the stomach. 

JimGalloway Author/Editor

References: NOAA Fisheries-Predator Fish

Scientific AmericanSheepshead Fish

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