Fishing For Answers: Do Fish Have Teeth?

do fish have teeth

Sharing is caring!

The world is alive with countless species of fish. Many of these living creatures are beautiful, yet many others are so ugly that it’s hard to believe they’re not a type of sea slug.

Have you ever wondered do fish have teeth? If so then this article will answer your question! 

Aquatic environments yield fishes of many shapes, sizes, and types. From the rugged and aggressive bullhead catfish to the oddly shaped and minuscule pygmy blenny, there is a wide variety of species in freshwater and saltwater environments. 

Some fish are so subtle you may never notice them. Fish such as the pygmy blenny only reach a mere five centimeters in length.

Other species of fish, such as the Rostratus, have teeth that are hidden beneath their lips and inside their mouths.

The most extreme example of this is the sperm whale. Do you know what type of fish has the most teeth?

The answer is at the end of this article.

Do Fish Really Have Teeth? 

Although it may be hard to imagine, many species of fish have teeth. In some cases, their teeth are virtually invisible to the human eye.

However, when you see a fish such as the rostratus, it is blatantly obvious that it has teeth. As for the sperm whale, you will know it has teeth because the creature has a mouth full of them! 

More common species of fish that you may see around you, most of them have teeth.

Although in many cases their teeth may be hard to see without a magnifying glass or microscope, don’t be fooled by their size. These fish have teeth that can be as long as your finger!

For example, the bluegill, which is a popular freshwater sportfish, is one of the species that have teeth.

These little fish have small teeth that help them to process food and prepare for the confrontation of other fish. In some cases, these teeth are hidden in their mouths behind their lips.

Size does matter when you are talking about fish teeth. There are some species of fish that have teeth that are so tiny that you may not even realize they’re there!

For example, the pygmy blenny only grows to a length of five centimeters and has three rows of very small teeth within its mouth. 

Do All Fish Have Teeth? 

One of the best-kept secrets about fish is that there are many types of these species that do not have teeth.

There is a type of fish that does not have any type of teeth at all. These odd creatures are known as hagfish.

Hagfish only grow to a length of thirty centimeters and have an unusual body design that makes it incredibly hard for predators to consume them. 

Examples of fish that do not have teeth include:

  • The Cyprinidae such as goldfish
  • Seahorses 
  • Pipefish 
  • Hagfish
  • Adult sturgeon
  • Pufferfish 

Although hagfish lack teeth, they do have several other adaptations that help them to survive.

For example, the mouth of hagfish is designed to allow for efficient feeding on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Additionally, hagfish have a ribbon-like skin that helps to protect them from predators.

Other fish have this type of skin as well.

Seahorses are one of the rarest types of fish in the world today. As a matter of fact, they are so rare that they were placed on the endangered species list in 1996.

These strange creatures have very unusual heads with a variety of colors and patterns.

Although these creatures lack teeth, they do have an extremely large snout that has a series of rows of bony plates along with it. Seahorse species also have a small dorsal fin located on their back.

Do Fish Have Teeth Like Humans? 

The teeth of fish are not like human teeth. Although the appearance of a fish’s teeth may be similar to human teeth, a series of special adaptations allow them to grow and maintain their teeth. 

Many species of fish have a pair of small denticles located at the back edge of their upper jaw called pharyngeal denticles.

These denticles also help to protect their gill cavity from being damaged by sharp objects such as rocks in the environment.

Many species of fish also have an outer covering over their teeth. The covering helps to protect the teeth and also prevents them from breaking or chipping off.

What Mechanism Is Used By Fish Without Teeth To Process Food? 

As with human beings, fish need to consume foods that contain substantial amounts of protein and carbohydrates to be healthy.

With that being said, there are many species of the animal kingdom that lack teeth. Without teeth, how do they process food? This is a great question! 

Many species of fish have a mechanism that helps them to get food into their stomachs. The mechanism is known as suction feeding.

When suction feeding, some species of fish can create a vacuum in their mouths. By doing so, they can suck in food and process it by crushing it with the roof of their mouth.

What Type Of Fish Has The Most Teeth? 

Although not technically a fish, the sperm whale is the king of teeth! These massive marine mammals have an amazing total of 300 teeth!

The sperm whale also has one special adaptation that allows it to use its teeth properly. This adaptation is known as bone-crushing teeth. 

The teeth of the sperm whale are extremely hard and pointed. The only problem that the sperm whale has is that its mouth is not large enough to contain them all.

As a result, it is not able to use all of its teeth at once. Instead, the lower jaw of the whale moves back and forth in a series of motions as it eats.

The sperm whale also has a very sharp sense of hearing that helps it to locate its prey within aquatic environments.

How Do Fish Eat? 

Many species of fish are omnivorous and eat both plants and animals. This is certainly the case for the catfish, as well as many other species of fish.

Some species of fish will eat only plant matter.

For example, the freshwater aquarium species, the goldfish have been known to only eat leaves and plants.

Another primarily vegetarian species of fish is known as the pipefish.

Not only are they herbivores but they also use their long and thin bodies to grab prey! Some species of fish can be eaten by humans, like the seabass which is a popular seafood.

Fun Facts About Fish Teeth

  • Three types of teeth exist within fish: denticles, cusps, and rasping plates.
  • There are many types of fish that do not have any teeth at all.
  • Almost all of the fish that consume other animals have sharply pointed teeth that allow them to grab prey. 
  • The three main types of tooth enamel include: prismatic, dentinal, and radular.
  • Many species of well-known marine life are carnivorous, including tuna and barracuda fish.
  • Fish is considered to be a vertebrate which means they possess a backbone and central nervous system. As such, they have brain and blood pump systems, as well as skin, muscles, and bones.


I hope this article was a fun way for you to learn about fish teeth! Try some of these questions on your friends and family to see if they have a better understanding of fish teeth.

Before you leave make sure to check out a separate article on the subject, here you can learn more about Fish species and their adaptations.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to stick around to learn more about fish and the many other types of marine life we discuss here.