August 6, 2019
Whether you’re an avid angler cutting out of work early to hit the water before dusk, or the general fishing enthusiast who bends a rod whenever you can, you know your basic fish species. By basic, we mean the household fish names: Largemouth Bass, Salmon, Trout, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Sailfish- the usual suspects. But unless you’re a marine biologist, you probably don’t know just how weird these fish species names can get!
Here at FishAnywhere, being able to identify fish from all across the globe is what we do. We literally look at hundreds of fish species pictures every day; and man, there are some STRANGE fish out there! We took the liberty of compiling our Top Ten Weirdest Fish Names ala David Letterman’s Late Show style. Have some fun with us as we check out Fish and their Odd Names:
#10 Dolly Varden Char – the only fish we know of that’s named after a Charles Dickens character. The name “Dolly Varden” originated in western North America in 1872 when the colorful char was said to be “regular Dolly Varden,” after a Charles Dickens character in the novel Barnaby Rudge, known for her rosy complexion and colorful costumes. In today’s world it’s like naming a fish after whatever star is at the top of the Best Dressed list. Lady Gaga Char anyone?
#9 Mola Mola– Whatta whatta?! More commonly referred to as the Sunfish, this ocean dweller is about as weird as they come… They are one of the heaviest bony fish (fish whose skeleton is composed of bone tissue, as opposed to cartilage) weighing in at over 2,200 pounds, but their diet mainly consists of jellyfish and fish larvae. Scientists are still baffled as to how these fish grow to such enormous sizes with a natural diet consisting of almost 0 protein! Mola is the latin word for millstone, which the fish roughly resembles due to its grey color, and its large round body. I guess the name “Floating blob that can’t even swim, and is solely reliant on the ocean currents to move around and hunt” was already taken 😉
#8 Crappie – also called Calico Bass, Kelp Bass, Papermouths, Strawberry Bass, Speckled Bass, Speckled Perch, Specks, or Oswego Bass. Plenty of people have had fun with the “Crappie” name – it’s just too good not to. It actually derives from the Canadian French crapet, which refers to many different varieties of the sunfish family. The name Crappie can refer to either the white crappie (which is lighter in color with vertical stripes) or the black crappie (which is darker with a pattern of black spots). Either way, crappie fishing is… you know, not crappy 😉
#7 Steelhead – Steelhead is a very confusing species. Some Rainbow Trout are called Steelheads, then there are other fish only called Steelheads… Some Rainbow Trout turn into Steelhead if they make it to the ocean (if they stay in freshwater they remain Rainbow Trout). But no matter what fish species you’re talking about, we remain in the camp that “Steelhead” is a very odd name for a fish. And they basically get their name as the antithesis of the Rainbow Trout. Rainbow trout are very colorful, and when they leave the freshwater they change color to a very silver/steel type look. So they get a new name with their new look. It’s like the Witness Protection Program of fishdom!
#6 Rainbow Trout – Yes, we just talked about Rainbow Trout. And we’re not so much hung up on the name, except that the Rainbow Trout is not a trout… it’s a salmon. Which leads us to…
#5 Lake Trout – The Lake Trout is not a trout… it’s a char. Although Trout and Char are both Salmoniformes, they differ in genus and species. They’re basically like cousins, so we can kind of forgive this one. Ready for another one?
#4 White Perch – The White Perch is not a perch; it’s technically part of the bass family. Even more odd… sometimes “White Perch” is given to the White Crappie, which is also NOT a perch. Okay, one more…
#3 Ling Cod – This one is our favorite: Though not related to either ling or cod, it’s named “ling cod” because it somewhat resembles both those fish. It’s a medium-sized fish with spots in various shades of gray with a brown or dark gray body. It’s basically the last of its kind and people weren’t really sure what to call it. So they said, “well, it’s kinda like a ling, but also like a cod. Let’s just call it lingcod.” I guess it’s better than “Hey, you!”
#2 Peacock Bass – also known as Butterfly Bass, Butterfly Cichlid, or Butterfly Peacock. The Peacock Bass is technically in the cichlid family, but we call it a bass because of its bass-like shape and large mouth with under-slug jaw. The Peacock bass is yellow or olive-green with vertical black bars on its side and identifiable large black spot at the beginning of its tail. The large spot looks remarkably like an “eye” found on the tail of a peacock, hence the name.
#1 Clown Knifefish – also known as Clown Featherback, or Spotted Knifefish. There’s a reason the Clown Knifefish ranks #1 on our list of Fish With Weird Names. Who came up with this name? Is this something out of a Stephen King novel?! If you are unfamiliar with this fish, look at this picture of one. It will all become clear, kind of. The back half of the fish looks like a knife. While we’re still not sure where the “clown” part came from, at least we’re not so scared now.
No matter where you are or what kind of fishing you’re doing, take a quick second to recognize how crazy some of these fish names are… And then don’t worry when someone corrects you on the name of a fish; each fish are called a variety of nicknames. I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you can reel it in and have a great day of fishing!
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