15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Snaggletooth Fish For Kids

One of the interesting snaggletooth fish facts is that it has pointed and fang-like teeth.

Snaggletooth fish, commonly referred to as star-eaters are a group of about 49 different species belonging to the genus Astronesthes. The fish Astronesthes niger is also known as snaggletooth and it also happens to be the most prominent species in the genus, along with the Richardson's snaggletooth (Astronesthes richardsoni). A related species, Astronesthes neopogon, and a completely unrelated species, Borostomias antarcticus are also seldom called snaggletooth. And there is a weasel shark that is called the snaggletooth shark too.

The snaggletooth fish are very peculiar-looking with a large mouth that has really sharp teeth. The teeth are pointed and needlelike. Perhaps their most prominent feature apart from the teeth is the singular barbel on the chin. This barbel has a red, bioluminescent tip that is used to attract prey. Once the prey is close, snaggletooth fishes strike. Most snaggletooth fishes live in the deep waters in the Atlantic Ocean, with some living in the Indian and Pacific oceans as well. Most species of snaggletooth fish are considered to be Least Concern species by the IUCN because of no major threats and fewer natural predators.

For more relatable content, check out these mutton snapper facts and black neon tetra facts for kids.

Snaggletooth Fish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Lanternfishes, amphipods, krill, smaller fish, crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Around 3 oz (85 g)

How long are they?

5.7-6.3 in (14.5-16 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black, pale, red, luminous

Skin Type

Smooth and delicate skin

What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Many, mostly Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Ocean waters in the mesopelagic zone, specifically at depths of up to 328-3,280 ft (100-1,000 m)


Subtropical and tropical Atlantic ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean sea, western Pacific ocean, Indian ocean





Scientific Name

Many, including Astronesthes niger and Astronesthes richardsoni





Snaggletooth Fish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a snaggletooth fish?

Snaggletooth fish are a group of deep-sea fish.

What class of animal does a snaggletooth fish belong to?

Snaggletooth fish belong to the Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish) class of animals.

How many snaggletooth fish are there in the world?

It is unclear exactly how many snaggletooth fish there are in the world since there are about 49 different species of snaggletooth fish in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Where does a snaggletooth fish live?

Snaggletooth fish are generally found in the subtropical and tropical marine waters of the Atlantic ocean. They are also found in the Gulf of Mexico, the western part of the Pacific ocean, as well as in the Indian ocean.

Richardson's snaggletooth is found in the western Atlantic, from central Namibia to Mauritania, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Astronesthes niger snaggletooth has been observed in the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic ocean, specifically in eastern Central Atlantic's north-western parts. It also occurs in the Congo, Gabon, and Ghana. The Gulf of Mexico, the Azores, waters close to Venezuela's Cariaco Trench also see the Astronesthes niger snaggletooth. In the Indian ocean, it occurs from India's western coast to Oman, to the Seychelles and Tanzania. The western Australian coast also sees some of these fish.

What is a snaggletooth fish's habitat?

Snaggletooth fish are deep-sea fish and they live in mesopelagic marine waters, usually at depths of 328-3,280 ft (100-1,000 m).

Richardson's snaggletooth fish mostly live deeper than 1,640 ft (500 m) during the daytime. At night, smaller fish may migrate upwards for feeding on crustaceans, and smaller fish.

The Astronesthes niger snaggletooth lives at depths of 0-3,280 ft (0-1,000 m), but mostly at depths below 328 ft (100 m). It seems to only come up to the very top when the moon and sun are under the horizon or at the time of the month during which the moon happens to be in the first and third quarters. The moon comes in handy for vertical migrations of this fish and it avoids illuminated waters otherwise.

Whom do snaggletooth fish live with?

Not much is known about the living behavior of snaggletooth fish, but they are most probably solitary fish.

How long does a snaggletooth fish live?

It is unclear how long snaggletooth fish live, but their generation time length ranges from one year five months to four years five months.

How do they reproduce?

Very little is known regarding the reproductive processes of snaggletooth fish species, but it can be assumed that they multiply by spawning and egg-laying like other fish. The generation time length for these marine animals is 1.4-4.4 years. It is unclear how many eggs they lay.

What is their conservation status?

There are many species in the snaggletooth Astronesthes genus with different conservation statuses.

Astronesthes neopogon, Astronesthes niger, and Richardson's snaggletooth (Astronesthes richardsoni) species all have been given the status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Snaggletooth Fish Fun Facts

What do snaggletooth fish look like?

Snaggletooth fishes are best known for having a red barbel on their chins which is used by them to attract smaller prey within their striking distance. They also have skin that is delicate and mouths that are filled with curved, needle-like and very sharp teeth. They are mostly black in color.

The Astronesthes niger snaggletooth is also a black-colored, elongate fish with pointy teeth. It lacks a turned-up tip on its snout and the swollen part of its barbel is 0.33-0.5 times the entire length. The dorsal fin of the Astronesthes niger has 15-17 soft rays and is slightly trailing of the pelvic fins. In the anus's front is an adipose fin on the ventral side. The anal fin of the Astonesthes niger has 12-15 soft rays. There are photophores (or luminous spots) in two longitudinal rows on either flank as well as luminescent patches forward and upward of the eye, and on top of the nostrils. The pectoral fin also has a large patch above it.

Richardson's snaggletooth fish has a shorter snout and a horizontal, terminal mouth with the characteristic fang-like teeth. The maxillae teeth point slightly backward and are comblike. It does not have a swelling at the tip of its long barbel and its chin is ribbon-like. There are 12-14 soft rays on the dorsal fin and 13-18 soft rays on the anal fin. To the front of the caudal peduncle is an adipose dorsal fin and in the front of the anus is a small adipose ventral fin. Richardson's snaggletooth also has a couple of rows of luminous photophores on either side of the underside and many other photophores on the body and the head, including a patch on the preoperculum (behind the mouth). This fish is also black.

Snaggletooth fishes have a bioluminescent red barbel.
*Please note that this is an image of a common barbel, not a snaggletooth fish. If you have an image of a snaggletooth fish, please let us know at

How cute are they?

Snaggletooth fish are not very cute animals at all. They are small, black, and have rather ugly heads. They have sharp teeth and big eyes and a red barbel they use to lure prey. They are deep-sea fishes whose bodies look misshapen. The large and open-mouth countenance looks like something out of a horror movie and they are not pleasing to the eye at all.

How do they communicate?

Snaggletooth fish are known to lure prey via their bioluminescent red barbels, but it is possible that they use this very bioluminescence to communicate with others of their own kind or even with the opposite sex to attract mating partners.

How big is a snaggletooth fish?

Snaggletooth fishes are 5.7-6.3 in (14.5-16 cm) long, which makes them seven times bigger than x-ray tetras, twice as big as Buenos Aires tetras, and about six times smaller than horn sharks.

How fast can a snaggletooth fish swim?

The speeds at which the various species of snaggletooth fish can swim have not been studied.

How much does a snaggletooth fish weigh?

Considering its size, a snaggletooth fish may weigh around 3 oz (85 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the snaggletooth fish species do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby snaggletooth fish?

A baby snaggletooth fish may be called a fry.

What do they eat?

Snaggletooth fishes are known to feed on lanternfishes, amphipods, krill, smaller fish, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

Snaggletooth fish are deep-sea creatures so they do not come in contact with humans a lot, but they are dangerous and devious predators for other fish. If ever near a snaggletooth fish, one must be careful of their teeth.

Would they make a good pet?

No, snaggletooth fish would definitely not make good pets. It would be hard to recreate their deep-sea environment. They are wild and free-roaming creatures of the oceans. Also, they have almost zero aesthetic value because of the pointed teeth, the big mouths, and long black bodies. Also, farming deep ocean-dwelling fish would not be feasible.

Did you know...

Snaggletooth sharks are known to reach lengths of 7.9 ft (240 cm).

The order, family, and subfamily of snaggletooth fish are Stomiiformes, Stomiidae, and Astronesthinae respectively.

Are snaggletooth sharks extinct?

Snaggletooth sharks are listed as Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Gillnet and trawling fishing are threats to the populations of snaggletooth sharks in countries like Indonesia.

What is a Hemi shark?

The snaggletooth shark is sometimes known as the 'Hemi shark'. This comes from the binomial name Hemipristis elongata. It belongs to the genus Hemipristis along with two other species called Hemipristis curvatus and Hemipristis serra, both of which are extinct. In Greek, 'Hemi' translates to half and 'pristis' translates to saw. This Greek name 'half saw' alludes to the jagged teeth of snaggletooth sharks. Yet another name for them is the 'fossil shark'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these glowlight danio fun facts for kids and Achilles tang interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable queen angelfish coloring pages.



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