With over 70% of the globe covered in water, it’s not surprising that some of the Earth’s most incredible creatures are aquatic. While most people are familiar with the idea of having a fish tank, hobbyists and collectors spend small fortunes keep exotic aquatic pets of all shapes and sizes with incredible setups that mimic their native habitats.
Like any animal, their maintenance and care is a yearly expense – but these for stunning aquatics, even acquiring them can be a bit more complicated. Some are available for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort to care for them, but others are only available through auctions and private sale. One is so rare ownership has become more of a status symbol than a pet.
10 Moon Jellyfish – $50
LED lamps with model jellyfish bouncing inside have become increasingly popular as stress-relievers, so it’s no surprise that many are willing to pay top dollar for the real thing. The most common choice is the moon jellyfish.
The moon jellyfish, also known as saucer the saucer jelly, are named for their large, translucent bell. They are 10-16 inches across with short, floating tentacles, which many find calming to watch. They generally have four “gonads” at their center that resemble the petals of a cartoon flower. Depending on what they are fed, these can be white, pink, blue, or purple.
Specialty tanks have been designed for the needs of jellyfish keeping. These setups typically range in price from $300-$850.
9 Blue Ring Octopus – $200*
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Keeping a Blue Ring Octopus is the aquatics equivalent of keeping a tiger. It is one of the most dangerous creatures in the world, due to its extremely venomous bite. The toxin is entirely painless, and there is no known antidote.
They are also incredible escape artists. Octopi of any species have to be kept in escape-proof tanks – which is difficult as they can escape through even the tiniest of cracks. For these reasons, and ethical concerns about keeping such intelligent and exotic creatures in the home, many dealers refuse to sell the Blue Ringed Octopus at all.
The scarcity of vendors who trade in these brilliantly patterned octopi makes it difficult to nail down a market price for these animals – but that is far from the biggest expense associated with them. The custom tanks and expensive diets can be extremely expensive:
“It can cost a couple thousand dollars just to get set up,” says Reyna Bueno, of Barrier Reef Aquariums, a leading Seattle-area vendor.
8 Lined Seahorse – $400
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Most recognize these classic aquatic animals for their unique body shapes, but few know that they can also make fantastic pets.
These creatures are considered vulnerable, which means that their wild populations are decreasing, but seahorse breeders farm raise the lined seahorse, so hobbyists are to have these animals in their home aquariums without damaging the future of the species.
These shy and peaceful fish require, at minimum, 30 gallons of space with plenty of hiding spots.
7 Tusk Hermit Crab – $400
The natural habitat of this crab is the deep reef, which has made them extremely difficult to acquire. The very first Tusk Hermit Crab was sold in the US in 2014. At $400 it was likely the most expensive crab ever sold.
6 Clarion Angelfish – $2.5K
These stunning saltwater fish are best known for their extremely vivid, almost neon blue stripes. They are typically captive bred in Bali. The lowest possible price for one of these fish is $2,500, but when they are more scare, prices can soar as high as $7,000 for a single fish.
They require a minimum of 150 gallons and typically have to be kept alone, due to aggression.
5 Neptune Grouper – $8K
This rare and highly sought after fish is almost never seen in private home aquariums. In the wild, they live at depths between 260-800 feet, so any brought to the surface have to go through a decompression process to survive.
Their flashy colors still make them a desired pet for some fish-keepers. They are rare enough that the sales of individual Neptune Groupers are newsworthy. There aren’t many details about the way these fish are kept, but if a hobbyist is lucky enough to get their hands on one it’s almost certain that they will be going above and beyond with a custom aquarium setup as well.
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4 Bladefin Basslet – $10K
This tiny fish is only 1.5 inches long at full size, but it is one of the most highly prized species on the planet. It is admired both for its brilliant coloration and for the extreme challenge of finding these rare fish.
Although they are small, they are aggressive, and need at least 50 gallons of swimming space to themselves.
3 Peppermint Angelfish – 30K
Sometimes referred to as, “The Holy Grail of marine life,” these pricey fish are almost as difficult to find. In the wild these bright, eye-catching fish only live around the island of Rarotonga, between 300- 400 feet deep. Like the Neptune Grouper, it must go through a decompression process. This results in an extremely low number of aquarium trade, making them incredibly difficult and expensive to acquire.
In order to keep them healthy, great care must be taken to simulate their natural environments.
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2 Freshwater Polka Dot Stingray – 100K
The stingray is another fascinating sea creature that most have seen before but few would consider owning for themselves. This incredible variety is black with white polka dots. Purchasing one of these animals is extremely difficult most places in the world, due to the fact that it is illegal to remove them from their native home in Brazil. Instead they are bred in captivity.
These animals require 500 gallon tanks and are top predators, so they cannot usually share their home with other fish.
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1 Asian arowana – $300K
This endangered fish has gone from pet to status symbol. They are prized by the Yakuza, European fish collectors, and Chinese business magnates alike. These fish are so valuable that “fish beauticians” perform plastic surgeries on them to make specimens more visually appealing. Farm-bred Asian arowana has become a 200m/year global market.
There is tremendous variation in the value of different Asian arowana, ranging from $800 all the way up to $300,000.
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Sources: Aquarium Industries, Jellyfish Aquarium, ThoughtCo., Jelly Fish Care, National Georgraphic, That Pet Place, Pets on Mom, Seahorse.com, Reef Builders, Beautiful Life, Live Aquaria
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