32 Types of Fish With Big Foreheads

Fish with big forehead

Fish with big foreheads are a fascinating sight in both the wild and aquarium settings. These unique fish species have evolved with prominent foreheads for various reasons, ranging from mating displays to specialized feeding habits. 

Found in diverse habitats, from the vibrant coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans to the deep waters of lakes worldwide, these fish are a testament to nature’s creativity. 

This article will introduce you to 32 popular types of fish with big foreheads, offering insights into their habitats, behaviors, and unique characteristics. Read on!

32 Types of Fish With Big Foreheads

1. Asian Sheepshead Wrasse

Asian Sheepshead Wrasse
Scientific Name:Semicossyphus reticulatus
Origin:Western Pacific Ocean
Habitat:Rocky reef areas around the Korean Peninsula, China, Japan, and the Ogasawara Islands
Size:Up to 3 inches
Weight:Up to 32 pounds
Temperament:Territorial during breeding season; solitary; can be aggressive

Asian Sheepshead Wrasses are a captivating species of fish known for their large forehead. 

Originating from the Western Pacific Ocean, these fish are commonly found swimming in the rocky reef areas around the Korean Peninsula, China, Japan, and the Ogasawara Islands. 

Despite being a small fish, measuring up to only 3 inches, it can weigh as much as 32 pounds. Interestingly, the hump on its forehead becomes more pronounced as it ages, giving it its distinctive appearance. 

They are not just known for their bulbous forehead but also for their temperament. During the breeding season, they become territorial and can exhibit aggressive behavior towards other fish. 

However, outside of this period, Asian Sheepshead Wrasse are generally solitary and peaceful. Aside from the unique features of their big head, these fish are also known for their sex and color-changing abilities

2. Blue Dolphin Cichlid

Blue Dolphin Cichlid
Scientific Name:Cyrtocara moorii
Origin:Lake Malawi, East Africa
Habitat:Areas with sandy substrates in Lake Malawi in East Africa
Size:Up to 7.9 inches
Weight:Usually less than 2 pounds
Temperament:Semi-aggressive; not friendly to other species; territorial when spawning

Blue Dolphin Cichlids are popular aquarium fish thanks to their unique foreheads. Originating from Lake Malawi in East Africa, these cichlids are often found in areas with sandy substrates. 

Growing up to 7.9 inches in size and typically weighing less than two pounds, their distinctive forehead becomes more pronounced as they age. 

Despite their captivating appearance, Blue Dolphin Cichlids have a semi-aggressive temperament. They are known to be territorial, especially during spawning, and are not particularly friendly to other species. 

For those considering adding these fish to their aquarium, it’s essential to note their nature and ensure they are housed with compatible tank mates.

3. Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid
Scientific Name:None (hybrid fish species) 
Origin:First emerged for sale on the aquarium market in Malaysia in the late 1990s
Habitat:Usually found in ornamental and home aquariums
Size:6 – 12 inches
Weight:Up to 1 pound
Temperament:Aggressive and territorial; invasive when released into the wild

Flowerhorn Cichlids, captivating fish with big foreheads, stand out in any aquarium setting. These hybrid fish are a result of crossbreeding different Central American Cichlids. 

Interestingly, the exact parent species of this hybrid is not definitively identified. They are said to be a result of the desire to create a fish with vibrant colors and a distinctive hump on its forehead. 

Originating in Malaysia in the late 1990s, their unique appearance quickly made them a popular aquarium fish. Size-wise, Flowerhorn fish often range in length from 6 to 12 inches and usually weigh less than one pound. 

While their beauty is undeniable, they are known to be aggressive, especially towards other fish in the aquarium. In fact, releasing these fish into the wild can lead to invasive issues due to their territorial nature.

One of the recent studies I have encountered conducted on Lake Poso in Indonesia highlighted the rapid spread and colonization of Flowerhorn Cichlids in non-native waters, posing a threat to local ecosystems.

While I have seen this phenomenon in other species before, the aggressive and adaptive nature of the Flowerhorn makes them a particularly challenging species to manage outside an aquarium.

4. Front Cichlid or Frontosa

Front Cichlid or Frontosa
Scientific Name:Cyphotilapia frontosa
Origin:Lake Tanganyika, East Africa
Habitat:Endemic to Lake Tanganyika and is widespread in the northern half of the lake 
Size:Up to 13.2 inches
Weight:Up to 2 pounds
Temperament:Can be territorial, similar to other cichlids

Front Cichlids, commonly known as Frontosa, are striking fish native to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. One of their most distinguishing features is their enlarged forehead, which becomes more prominent as the fish age. 

This feature may appear as a slight hump on their forehead, giving it a somewhat deformed shaped forefront.

Appearance-wise, the Frontosa showcases a mix of blue and black shades, with its blue body and head contrasting beautifully against darker vertical stripes. 

These East African species of fish can grow quite large, reaching up to 13.2 inches in length. While they are peaceful by nature, they can be territorial, especially towards smaller fish. 

The Frontosa’s bold forehead, combined with its serene demeanor, ensures they stand out in any aquatic setting.

5. Green Humphead Parrotfish

Green Humphead Parrotfish
Scientific Name:Bolbometopon muricatum
Origin:Reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and from the Yaeyama Islands to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Habitat:Found in clear outer lagoons and seaward reefs up to a depth of 30 meters
Size:Up to 58.8 inches
Weight:Up to 165 pounds
Temperament:Gregarious; usually occurs in small aggregations; sometimes forms large groups 

Green Humphead Parrotfish are another captivating sight in the vast expanse of the ocean. Originating from the reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, these fish stand out, especially due to their pronounced forehead. 

The fish’s forehead may remind one of a steep hill, with a noticeable hump extending from the face upwards, giving it a distinctive appearance. 

Aside from their big forehead, these ocean fish have vibrant green shades, making it a visual treat. Measuring up to 58.8 inches and weighing as much as 165 pounds, they’re a large fish that’s hard to miss. 

Green Humphead Parrotfish are found swimming in clear outer lagoons and seaward reefs, diving up to a depth of 30 meters

In terms of temperament, these fish are gregarious, often found in small aggregations but occasionally forming larger groups.

6. Humphead Glassfish

Humphead Glassfish
Scientific Name:Parambassis pulcinella
Origin:Fast-flowing streams in the Ataran basin in southeast Myanmar and west Thailand
Habitat:Large clear-water rivers, especially near waterfalls and large rapids
Size:Up to 3.9 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Can be territorial or aggressive, especially during breeding season

Humphead Glassfish are native to the fast-flowing streams in the Ataran basin, which is a part of the Salween basin in southeast Myanmar and west Thailand.

In terms of habitat, they are predominantly found in large clear-water rivers, especially in areas close to waterfalls and spacious rapids.

One of the most striking features of the Humphead Glassfish is its translucent body, allowing aquarists to see its internal organs. 

This transparency, combined with their unique appearance, makes them a sought-after species for enthusiasts. The fish’s body exhibits subtle hues of silver and blue, which shimmer under the right lighting conditions.

At certain angles and under specific lighting, the Humphead Glassfish head structure can give the illusion of large foreheads, adding to their distinctive look. 

This perceived feature, whether real or a trick of the light, adds another layer of intrigue to this already fascinating species.

7. Knobsnout Parrotfish

Knobsnout Parrotfish
Scientific Name:Scarus ovifrons
Origin:Northwestern Pacific Ocean off Japan and Taiwan
Habitat:Inhabits rocky areas of coastal waters. It is commonly found in reefs and coral reefs
Size:Up to 35.4 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Gregarious; usually occurs in small aggregations; sometimes forms larger groups when foraging or during specific seasons

Knobsnout Parrotfish are striking marine ray-finned fish that hail from the Northwestern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Japan and Taiwan. One of their most distinguishing features is their pronounced forehead.

Their foreheads serve as a testament to their name, resembling a blunt face with a protruding knob-like snout.

The bodies of Knobsnout Parrotfish are adorned with vibrant colors, making them a sight to behold. When it comes to their habitat, these fish are found in rocky areas of coastal waters. 

Size-wise, these fish are a deep-sea marvel that can grow up to 35.4 inches. While their weight range remains vague, their temperament is notably gregarious. 

These fish usually occur in small aggregations, but it’s not uncommon to see them form larger groups, especially during foraging or specific seasons.

8. Knothead Parrotfish

Knothead Parrotfish
Image credit: chun_kai_k / Instagram
Scientific Name:Chlorurus oedema
Origin:Indo-West Pacific: Sri Lanka to the Philippines, north to the Ryukyu Islands
Habitat:Coastal rocky and coral reefs
Size:Up to 16.5 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Social fish that forms small groups; adaptable

Knothead Parrotfish are saltwater fish native to the Indo-West Pacific region. These fish are said to originate from the waters of Sri Lanka all the way to the Philippines, extending north to the Ryukyu Islands. 

These fish are easily recognizable by their characteristic strong blue coloration, which is beautifully contrasted by whitish spots on the cheeks found in adult specimens. 

One of their most distinctive features is the pronounced lump on their foreheads, giving them a unique appearance and justifying their name. 

Younger Knothead Parrotfish fishes, however, lack both the cheek spots and the prominent forehead hump. 

In terms of temperament, these fish are often seen swimming in small groups, showcasing their social nature. These fish are known not only for their larger forehead but also for their adaptability in various habitats. 

9. Lionhead Cichlid

Lionhead Cichlid
Scientific Name:Steatocranus casuarius
Origin:Pool Malebo and the Congo River
Habitat:Native to Pool Malebo and the Congo River; use caves for spawning
Size:Up to 3.9 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Territorial; can be combined with compatible species

Lionhead Cichlids are yet another standout in the world of aquatic species with big foreheads. These fish are not just a visual delight but also an intriguing specimen in behavior.

In their natural habitat, these fish are known to use caves for spawning, a testament to their adaptability. Furthermore, Lionhead Cichlids are territorial, yet they can be peaceful with the right tank mates. 

One of these fish’s most endearing traits is the deep bond they form with their partners. If their partner dies, they are inclined to refrain from seeking a new companion. 

Originating from the waters of Pool Malebo and the Congo River, they are water fish that grow up to a size of 3.9 inches. Their foreheads are a distinguishing feature, complemented by a vibrant palette of colors. 

10. Midas Cichlid

Midas Cichlid
Scientific Name:Amphilophus citrinellus
Origin:Central America
Habitat:Freshwater lakes and rivers
Size:Up to 14 inches
Weight:Around 3.5 pounds
Temperament:Aggressive and territorial; popular in the aquarium trade

Midas Cichlids, originating from Central America’s freshwater lakes and rivers in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, are celebrated for their pronounced forehead. 

Size-wise, these fish grow up to 14 inches and weigh around 3.5 pounds. Their vibrant orange body, in combination with their huge foreheads and circular eyes, gives them a distinctive appearance. 

While their fin movements are graceful when swimming, their temperament is not as pleasing. In fact, these species of fish can be aggressive towards other fish. 

Despite that, though, Midas Cichlids remain a favorite in the world of aquarium trade.

One interesting fact about these fish is that, when breeding, females select flat rocks or cleared patches for laying eggs, with both parents guarding their territory fiercely. 

The name “Midas” reflects the fish’s golden hue, alluding to King Midas’s legendary touch.

11. Napoleon Fish or Humphead Wrasse

Napoleon Fish or Humphead Wrasse
Scientific Name:Cheilinus undulatus
Origin:Indo-Pacific region
Habitat:Shallow, sandy ranges bordering coral reef waters or offshore and deeper areas of coral reefs
Size:Up to 78 inches
Weight:Up to 396 pounds
Temperament:Usually observed living alone; can be found in male and female pairs and in small groups; opportunistic predators

Napoleon Fish, also known as Humphead Wrasses, are renowned for their distinctive and somewhat large forehead. They are also famous as one of the fish with big lips.

Hailing from the Indo-Pacific region, these fish boast a unique head growth. 

Their vibrant colors and hump on the head make them one of the fish that easily stands out in their natural habitat. Interestingly, they are also one of the larger species in their domain, reaching up to 396 pounds in weight.

Juveniles, with their less pronounced, smaller foreheads, are commonly spotted in shallow, sandy ranges bordering coral reef waters. 

In contrast, adult Humphead Wrasse prefers the offshore and deeper areas of coral reefs, especially the outer reef slopes and channels. 

Although they are usually observed living alone, they can occasionally be seen in male/female pairs or small groups. As opportunistic predators, they primarily feed on whatever fish or crustaceans are available to them. 

12. Oranda Goldfish

Oranda Goldfish
Scientific Name:Carassius auratus
Habitat:Thrives in well-maintained aquariums or ponds
Size:8 – 12 inches
Weight:Usually less than 1 pound
Temperament:Sensitive to low water temperatures; can be kept with other goldfish

Orandas are a breed of goldfish known as one of the most recognizable fancy goldfish breeds in the world.

They are particularly known for their distinctive “wen,” or gelatinous cap that covers their heads and can sometimes extend over their faces and gills. These wens give the appearance of large, protruding foreheads.

Interestingly, these can grow uncontrollably large and may require removal

Originating from China, these fish boast a vibrant palette of colors, often a mix of shimmering orange and red, with their red heads being a standout feature. 

Due to their unique appearance and relatively easy care requirements, these goldfish are popular aquarium fish. 

Size-wise, these goldfish can grow between 8 and 12 inches in size and usually weigh less than one pound

Watch this video to learn more about this popular fish with a big forehead:

Caring for Oranda Goldfish!

13. Redhump Eartheater

Redhump Eartheater
Scientific Name:Geophagus steindachneri
Origin:Northwestern South America
Habitat:River drainages in northern and western Colombia and northwestern Venezuela
Size:6 – 8 inches
Weight:Around 3 pounds
Temperament:Generally peaceful; can be territorial, especially during breeding. Best kept with similarly sized or larger fish that are not overly aggressive

Redhump Eartheaters are unique species of fish native to the river drainages in northwestern South America, particularly in northern and western Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. 

One of their most distinguishing features is their slightly protruding foreheads, which gives them a unique look. Their bodies are adorned with a mix of earthy colors, blending seamlessly with their natural habitat.

In the wild, these fish may often be seen sifting substrate material, consuming detritus and small organisms. They are hardy fish, preferring slightly acidic to neutral water and temperatures ranging from 75 to 79 °F.

Despite their peaceful nature, male Redhump Eartheaters can become territorial, especially during breeding seasons. Generally, It’s best to house them with similarly sized or larger fish that aren’t overly aggressive. 

Overall, Redhump Eartheaters’ unique foreheads and serene temperament make them a fascinating addition to any aquatic collection.

14. Barreleye Fish

Barreleye Fish
Image credit: wildliferisk / Instagram
Scientific Name:Macropinna microstoma
Origin:Tropical-to-temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
Habitat:Moderate depths, from the mesopelagic to bathypelagic zone (400 to 2,500 meters deep)
Size:Usually under 7.9 inches long
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Often solitary; remain just below; observant, use sensitive, upward-pointing tubular eyes to survey waters above

Barreleye Fish, scientifically known as Macropinna microstoma, are captivating creatures that thrive in the tropical-to-temperate waters spanning the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. 

These fish are small deep-sea dwellers, often found lurking in moderate depths ranging from 400 to 2,500 meters. Barreleye Fish are small, usually measuring under 7.9 inches

These fish’s most distinguishing feature is their transparent head. This unique characteristic, which gives the appearance of large foreheads, allows as much light as possible to enter.

Their transparent heads aid their sensitive, upward-pointing tubular eyes. These eyes are adept at surveying the waters above, making them observant predators. 

The Barreleye’s body exhibits a shimmering silver hue, contrasting with its dark, tubular eyes.

Despite not being a popular aquarium fish due to their deep-sea habitat, their peculiar appearance, especially their pronounced foreheads, makes them a subject of intrigue among many marine enthusiasts.

15. Hump-headed Blenny

Hump headed Blenny
Scientific Name:Parablennius pilicornis
Origin:Eastern Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic, and Western Indian Ocean
Habitat:Widespread in coastal waters. They inhabit areas from Spain and Portugal to South Africa, including the Mediterranean Sea and regions near Brazil and Argentina.
Size:Up to 5 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Territorial; solitary; reactive to perceived threats

Hump-headed Blennies are another fascinating sight in the aquatic world. These fish stand out primarily due to their unique head shape.

Native to regions spanning from the Eastern Atlantic to the Western Indian Ocean, they thrive in coastal waters, especially in areas from Spain and Portugal to South Africa and even near Brazil and Argentina. 

Measuring up to five inches, their bodies showcase a blend of colors, complemented by their unique head shapes and pronounced foreheads. 

Hump-headed Blennies are not just known for their appearance; they have a territorial temperament, often reacting swiftly to perceived threats. 

Though their foreheads might not immediately stand out compared to others on this list, a closer look reveals their distinct head shape, which accentuates their prominent brows.

16. Bluespine Unicornfish

Bluespine Unicornfish
Scientific Name:Naso unicornis
Origin:Indo-Pacific region
Habitat:Common in the tropical Indo-Pacific region; near-shore fish
Size:Up to 28 inches
Weight:Up to 13 pounds
Temperament:Solitary in nature; prefers dynamic environments with waves or surges; juveniles stay close to shore; adults venture to deeper regions

Bluespine Unicornfish hail from the Indo-Pacific region. These ocean fish with big foreheads are instantly recognizable due to their unique horn-like extensions, reminiscent of a unicorn’s horn. 

While it may be odd to see this fish species on this list, as they do not necessarily mirror the usual “big forehead look,” their peculiar protrusion in their brows makes them worth mentioning in this guide.

In terms of size, these fish grow up to 28 inches and weigh around 13 pounds. Appearance-wise, they showcase a vibrant palette of blues and greens, making them a marine spectacle.

Interestingly, this species of fish favors dynamic environments with waves or surges and predominantly feeds on brown and red algae. 

During one of my marine research expeditions, I had the privilege of observing the Bluespine Unicornfish in its natural habitat. 

Contrary to the rarity suggested by its “unicorn” moniker, these fish are abundantly found in the Indo-Pacific region.

What intrigued me most during my observations was the distinct behavior between the age groups: juveniles predominantly stayed in shallower waters, whereas the adults ventured into deeper territories.

17. African Lungfish

African Lungfish
Scientific Name:Protopterus annectens
Habitat:Inhabit shallow waters such as swamps and marshes; can survive out of water for months by burrowing into hardened mud
Size:Up to 40 inches
Weight:Up to 9 pounds
Temperament:Burrower; can go without food for extended periods

African Lungfish offer a unique perspective on what constitutes a “big” forehead in the aquatic world. At first glance, one might wonder why they are included in a list of fish with pronounced foreheads. 

However, a closer examination reveals that while their foreheads aren’t overtly protruding, they extend farther back than in many other species, giving them a distinctive elongated appearance. 

This subtle protrusion, combined with their broad structure, creates an illusion of a more expansive forehead, setting them apart from their counterparts. 

Originating from the diverse waters of Africa, their bodies showcase a mix of muted colors, blending seamlessly with their natural habitat of swamps, marshes, and larger lakes. 

Growing up to 40 inches and weighing as much as nine pounds, African Lungfish are not just a sight to behold but also a survivor. 

They can estivate during dry seasons by burrowing into hardened mud, showcasing their adaptability. 

Their diet primarily consists of mollusks, crabs, prawns, and small fish. The inclusion of African Lungfish in this list creates a different interpretation of what a “big forehead” can look like in the fish kingdom.

18. Beluga Whales

Beluga Whales
Scientific Name:Delphinapterus leucas
Origin:Arctic and sub-Arctic regions
Habitat:Primarily coastal areas but also rivers during the summer
Size:Up to 216 inches
Weight:Up to 3,500 pounds
Temperament:Social animals; often seen in groups called pods; vocal with a variety of sounds

Beluga Whales are majestic creatures originating from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. These magnificent animals are often spotted in coastal areas, and during the summer months, they venture into rivers. 

One of the most distinguishing features of Beluga Whales is their pronounced foreheads, a trait that makes them stand out in the aquatic world. 

This bulbous forehead, known as a “melon,” is soft and malleable, changing shape as the whale vocalizes. 

While they are technically not “fish,” as they are classified as aquatic mammals, the Beluga still deserves a spot in this list for their undeniable presence in the aquatic realm. 

Growing up to 216 inches in length and weighing as much as 3,500 pounds, these gentle giants are social animals, often seen in groups called pods. 

Their vocal nature has earned them the nickname “sea canaries.” Primarily found in coastal areas, they also venture into rivers during the summer, frequenting the waters around Russia, Greenland, and North America.

19. Bighead Carp

Bighead Carp
Scientific Name:Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
Origin:East Asia
Habitat:Native to large rivers and associated with floodplain lakes of eastern Asia
Size:Usually 24 inches
Weight:Up to 88 pounds
Temperament:Invasive nature; often out-competes native species

Next up has a spot on the list of the most popular carp species, the Bighead Carp. These distinctive fish with large foreheads that stand out prominently. 

Originating from East Asia, specifically from the large rivers and floodplain lakes stretching from southern China to the Amur River system, these fish have a unique appearance. 

These fish have large, broad heads that seamlessly taper down to their bodies. Their coloration is a blend of muted tones, making them quite elusive in their native habitat.

However, despite their intriguing appearance, it’s essential to note their invasive nature. In regions like the United States, Bighead Carps often out-compete native species, leading to ecological concerns.

In fact, a study conducted by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), in collaboration with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, highlights these concerns.

In the study, they assessed the potential impact of two invasive bigheaded carp species on the food webs of four North American Great Lakes areas, revealing varying negative effects across the habitat.

20. Bowhead Whale

Bowhead Whale
Image credit: whaletalespodcast / Instagram
Scientific Name:Balaena mysticetus
Origin:Arctic and sub-Arctic regions
Habitat:Usually prefer the cold waters of the Northern Hemisphere; migrate seasonally but do not cross to warm waters
Size:Up to 708 inches
Weight:Up to 220,000 pounds
Temperament:Generally solitary or found in small groups; known to be vocal and use a variety of sounds for echolocation

Bowhead Whales are majestic creatures primarily found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Other than their sheer size, one of their most distinctive features is their impressively large, broad, and rounded foreheads.

Their forehead, or “bowhead,” is not only significant in size but also in function, playing a crucial role in breaking through ice sheets. 

The whale’s overall color is predominantly black, providing a stark contrast to the icy blue waters they call home.

These black fish, despite their enormous size of up to 708 inches and weight reaching 220,000 pounds, are known for their gentle temperament. 

Temperament-wise, they are either solitary or found in small groups. Interestingly, while many fish migrate to different temperatures, Bowhead Whales stick to cold waters and do not venture into warmer regions. 

21. California Sheephead

California Sheephead
Scientific Name:Semicossyphus pulcher
Origin:Eastern Pacific Ocean
Habitat:Inhabit rocky reef and kelp bed habitats
Size:Up to 36 inches
Weight:Up to 35 pounds
Temperament:Diurnal (active during the day); can be territorial

California Sheepheads stand out primarily thanks to their big forehead. Native to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, these fish originate from Monterey Bay, California, to the Gulf of California, Mexico. 

Appearance-wise, these fish boast a vibrant mix of colors, with males often displaying a brilliant orange fish hue in the center, transitioning to white and black towards the head and tail. 

Growing up to 36 inches and weighing as much as 35 pounds, their size is as impressive as their appearance. 

These fish are not just known for their beauty, though, but also their behavior. Being diurnal, they are active during the day, feeding primarily on sea urchins, mollusks, and other fish and crustaceans. 

However, despite their serene daytime activities, they can be territorial and often seek shelter at night. 

22. Chairel Cichlid

Chairel Cichlid
Image credit: wcichlidculture / Instagram
Scientific Name:Nosferatu steindachneri (Previously known as Herichthys steindachneri)
Habitat:This fish is found in the Tamasopo, Gallinas, and Ojo Frio Rivers of the Panuco River basin
Size:Up to 15.7 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Territorial; can be violent when kept in confined spaces

Chairel Cichlids, scientifically known as Nosferatu steindachneri (previously recognized as Herichthys steindachneri), are remarkable fish that originate in Mexico. 

The change in these fish’s scientific name is said to pay tribute to the Austrian ichthyologist Franz Steindachner, highlighting the significance of historical figures in the naming of species.

Like others on this list, these fish boast a slightly elongated and pronounced forehead that sets them apart from other species. 

The hump on their forehead, combined with their vibrant colors, make them a fascinating fish to observe.

However, those interested in Chairel Cichlids should be cautious, as the male fish can become aggressive, especially in tight spaces. 

Additionally, these unique fish are also on the IUCN Red List, indicating their endangered status.

23. Chocolate Cichlid

Chocolate Cichlid
Scientific Name:Hypselecara temporalis
Origin:South America
Habitat:Typically found in slow-moving waters, including floodplain lakes, tributaries, and backwaters
Size:Up to 12 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Generally peaceful; can become territorial during breeding; best kept with similarly sized, non-aggressive fish

Chocolate Cichlids are fish with big foreheads found in the Amazon River basin of South America. The foreheads of these fish are broad and slightly bulging, emphasizing their robust facial structure. 

Meanwhile, the bodies of Chocolate Cichlids boast a rich, velvety brown hue reminiscent of their namesake. These fish get their allure not just from their color but also from their size, growing up to 12 inches in length. 

In terms of habitat, these fish are typically found swimming in slow-moving waters, including floodplain lakes and tributaries. 

These waters often have dense vegetation and submerged woody structures, offering Chocolate Cichlids numerous hiding spots. 

While these fish are generally peaceful, they can become territorial during breeding times. For those considering adding these fish to their aquarium, they are best kept with similarly sized, non-aggressive fish.

24. Dolphinfish (Mahi-Mahi)

Dolphinfish Mahi Mahi
Scientific Name:Coryphaena hippurus
Origin:Mainly in the waters around the Gulf of Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and the Indian Ocean
Habitat:Found in offshore temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters worldwide
Size:15 – 29 pounds
Weight:Usually under 33 pounds
Temperament:Surface-dwelling; carnivorous, feeding on flying fish, crabs, squid, mackerel, and other forage fish

Dolphinfish, commonly known by the name Mahi-Mahi, stand out for many reasons, one of which is their pronounced forehead and their distinction as one of the fastest sea animals.

Their foreheads are broad and bulging, giving them a unique appearance among their aquatic counterparts. 

Appearance-wise, the Dolphinfish’s vibrant colors range from dazzling golden-yellow to iridescent blues and greens. 

Originating mainly from the waters around the Gulf of Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and the Indian Ocean, these fish that live in offshore temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters boast a global presence. 

Typically weighing under 33 pounds, Mahi-Mahis are not small but rather medium-sized ones that dwell near the surface. Their size, combined with their remarkable forehead and vibrant colors, makes them recognizable.

As surface-dwelling species, these fish that feed on a variety of prey, such as flying fish, crabs, and squid, also have a carnivorous nature.

25. Giant Moray Eel

Giant Moray Eel
Scientific Name:Gymnothorax javanicus
Origin:Indo-Pacific region
Habitat:Widespread in the Indo-Pacific region; inhabit lagoons and the outer slopes of coral reefs
Size:Up to 105 inches
Weight:Up to 66 pounds
Temperament:Known to engage in cooperative hunting with certain species of grouper; primarily feeds on fish and occasionally on crustaceans

Giant Moray Eels are captivating creatures with notably pronounced foreheads. Witnessing these eels in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region is a memorable experience for anyone who is able to catch a glimpse.

Originating from areas spanning the eastern coast of Africa to the Hawaiian Islands and Polynesia, Giant Moray Eels stand out from typical marine life with their elongated form.

Their broad and prominent foreheads accentuate their elongated body, drawing attention to their thick head.

Appearance-wise, their color palette is a mix of rich browns and yellows, which contrast beautifully against the vibrant backdrop of the coral reefs where they are commonly found.

In terms of size, Giant Moray Eels reach up to 105 inches in length and weigh as much as 66 pounds.

It’s fascinating to note that despite their formidable appearance, they are known to engage in cooperative hunting, especially with certain species of groupers.

26. Giant Trevally

Giant Trevally
Scientific Name:Caranx ignobilis
Origin:Tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region
Habitat:Found in a range of environments, including estuaries, shallow bays, and lagoons
Size:Up to 67 inches
Weight:Up to 176 pounds
Temperament:Aggressive and fast-swimming predator; known to hunt individually or in schools; primarily feeds on other fish

Next up on our list are Giant Trevallies, remarkable fish swimming in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. 

While these fish may not possess the typical pronounced foreheads seen in some other species on this list, their robust and muscular upper head profile qualifies them as a worthwhile addition.

This pronounced upper head, which can be easily mistaken for a “big forehead” when viewed from certain angles, gives the fish a distinctive appearance. 

Originating from regions spanning from the Red Sea to Hawaii, these fish sport colors ranging from silvery to a darker shade of blue-grey. 

When it comes to habitat, they thrive in various environments, notably estuaries, shallow bays, and lagoons. 

Growing up to 67 inches and weighing as much as 176 pounds, They’re among the bigger fish on this list. 

Beyond their size, they are aggressive and are known to be fast swimmers. They also primarily prey on other fish, which makes them a notable species in the aquatic world.

27. Green Terror

Green Terror
Scientific Name:Andinoacara rivulatus
Origin:Pacific side of South America from the Tumbes River in Peru to the Esmeraldas River in Ecuador
Habitat:Inhabit the slow-moving freshwater rivers and streams characterized by clear to muddy conditions
Size:Up to 12 inches
Weight:Up to 2 pounds
Temperament:Very aggressive, especially in the late juvenile and adult phases; however, some individuals can be peaceful

Green Terrors, originating from the Pacific side of South America, specifically from the Tumbes River in Peru to the Esmeraldas River in Ecuador, boast a vibrant green hue matched by their prominent forehead. 

The foreheads of Green Terrors are not only large but also have bulging appearances similar to a small hill.

In terms of size, these fish can grow up to 12 inches and weigh as much as two pounds. Their bodies are adorned with shimmering shades of green, which become even more pronounced in the clear to muddy waters. 

When it comes to habitat, Green Terrors inhabit the slow-moving freshwater rivers and streams of their native region, often surrounded by dense aquatic vegetation and a sandy or muddy substrate.

Despite their beauty, the temperament of these fish is something to note. They are known to be very aggressive, especially during their late juvenile and adult phases. 

28. Red Devil

Red Devil
Scientific Name:Amphilophus labiatus
Origin:Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua in Central America
Habitat:Endemic to freshwater lakes; prefers habitats with rocky substrates and open-water
Size:10 – 14 inches
Weight:Up to 2.5 pounds
Temperament:Highly aggressive; may ram into a glass to get at invaders, break aquarium equipment, and sometimes bite their owners

Another striking fish on the list is the Red Devil Cichlid. These fish, native to the freshwater lakes of Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua in Central America, are defined by their pronounced foreheads.

Their foreheads, robust and prominent, are a defining feature that sets them apart from many other fish species. In terms of color, Red Devils sport a vibrant red hue, which is where they get their common name from. 

These fish can grow to a size of 10 to 14 inches and weigh up to 2.5 pounds. In their natural habitat, they prefer areas with rocky substrates and open water. 

The temperament of the Red Devil is so fierce that they may ram into the glass of an aquarium, break equipment, and even sometimes bite their owners. 

Despite their aggressive nature, though, their unique appearance, especially their forehead, makes these fish popular with many enthusiasts.

29. Redhead Cichlid

Redhead Cichlid
Scientific Name:Paraneetroplus synspilu
Origin:Lake Petén system, Grijalva–Usumacinta River basin, southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala
Habitat:Slow-moving or standing waters such as rivers, lakes, and lagoons; may occur in slightly brackish habitats
Size:Up to 14 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Primarily herbivorous; can be aggressive and territorial

The Redhead Cichlid is a captivating fish that hails from the Lake Petén system, Grijalva–Usumacinta River basin, spanning regions of southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. 

These fish are not your typical small deep-sea fish; they thrive in slow-moving or standing waters like rivers, lakes, and lagoons and can even be found in slightly brackish habitats. 

One of the most striking features of Redhead Cichlids is their pronounced foreheads, which give them a distinctive appearance. Their foreheads are broad and slightly bulging, emphasizing their unique facial structure. 

Coupled with vibrant colors, Redhead Cichlids are truly a sight to behold. Their bodies are a mix of reds, oranges, and yellows, with the forehead often being a deeper shade of red, hence the name. 

Size-wise, these fish can stretch up to 14 inches. Meanwhile, in terms of diet, they are primarily herbivores. 

Interested aquarists should note the temperament of these fish, as they can be aggressive and territorial, especially when defending their space.

30. Rio Grand Cichlid or Texas Cichlid

Rio Grand Cichlid or Texas Cichlid
Scientific Name:Herichthys cyanoguttatus
Origin:Lower Rio Grande drainage in Texas near Brownsville and northeastern Mexico
Habitat:Freshwater habitats in the lower Rio Grande drainage
Size:Around 13 inches
Weight:Usually less than 2 pounds
Temperament:Omnivorous diet; aggressive whether holding territory or not; usually described as an “opportunistic carnivore”

Rio Grande Cichlids, also known as Texas Cichlids, are recognized for their subtle yet noticeable bulge on their foreheads. 

Scientifically known as Herichthys cyanoguttatus, these fish originate from the lower Rio Grande drainage in Texas near Brownsville and extend to northeastern Mexico. 

The foreheads of Rio Grande Cichlids are not extremely big; however, in some cases, they can bulge more depending on the development of their head structures.

When it comes to appearance, Rio Grande Cichlids have vibrant color palettes with shimmering shades of blue, purple, and green. 

Meanwhile, size-wise, these peculiar fish can grow up to around 13 inches and weigh less than two pounds

Despite their beauty, potential keepers should be wary of their temperament. Rio Grande Cichlids are omnivorous and are often described as “opportunistic carnivores.” 

31. Sperm Whale

Sperm Whales
Scientific Name:Physeter macrocephalus
Origin:Found worldwide
Habitat:Deep offshore waters; they are found in all oceans and most seas
Size:Up to 805 inches
Weight:Up to 114,000 pounds
Temperament:Social animals; live in groups called pods; males are solitary or move in groups of other males

Sperm Whales are one of the most iconic marine creatures, easily recognizable by their pronounced foreheads. This massive forehead, known as the “melon,” is bulbous and occupies a large portion of the forefront. 

The forehead of Sperm Whales are not just for show; they play a crucial role in echolocation, a technique they use to navigate and hunt in the deep blue. 

Appearance-wise, their skin is primarily a dark, slate-gray color, which contrasts beautifully with the lighter shades on their belly. 

Social by nature, Sperm Whales live in cohesive groups called pods, although mature males are known to be solitary or occasionally move in groups with other males. 

These giants are found worldwide, gracing the deep offshore waters of all oceans and most seas. 

Growing up to an impressive 85 inches, their size is further emphasized by their weight, which can reach a staggering 114,000 pounds

32. Steephead Parrotfish

Steephead Parrotfish
Scientific Name:Chlorurus microrhinos
Origin:Indo-Pacific region
Habitat:Found in lagoons, inshore reefs, and ocean reef fronts, from 2 to 50 meters deep
Size:Up to 31 inches
Weight:Not Available
Temperament:Usually swim in schools of about 40 fish, although juveniles are generally solitary

Found in the Indo-Pacific region, the Steephead Parrotfish is another stunning fish sporting a big forehead.

In contrast to other species of fish in this list, the foreheads of Steepheads are broad, squarish, and less rounded. These give the fish’s face a flatter profile when seen from the side.

When it comes to the rest of their appearance, these fish wear a wide array of colors, ranging from shades of blue, green, and pink, which shimmer under the water’s surface. 

Their habitat spans lagoons, inshore reefs, and ocean reef fronts, where they can be found at depths ranging from 2 to 50 meters.

In terms of behavior, these fish are known to primarily feed on benthic algae and materials scraped from corals. While adults often swim in schools of approximately 40 or more, younger Steephead Parrotfish are more solitary. 

It’s worth noting that the flesh of adult Steephead Parrotfish may be slightly toxic in certain Pacific localities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fish with big forehead up close

What Coral Fish Has a Big Forehead?

Humphead Wrasses, also known as Napoleon Wrasses, are prominent coral fish known for their large foreheads. These vibrant and colorful fish are native to the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region. 

The distinctive humps on their foreheads become more pronounced as they mature, making them stand out among coral reef inhabitants.

What Freshwater Fish Has a Big Head?

In freshwater habitats, Flowerhorn Cichlids are renowned for their pronounced head or “kok.” 

These ornamental fish, a result of hybrid breeding, are popular among aquarium enthusiasts for their vivid colors and unique appearance. 

The size of their head or nuchal hump is often seen as a sign of good health and genetics in the fishkeeping community.

Why Do Fish Have Big Foreheads?

Fish with big foreheads, often referred to as “nuchal humps,” have evolved for various reasons. 

For some species, like Humphead Wrasses, it’s a sign of maturity and dominance, helping them establish territory and attract mates. 

In others, like the Flowerhorn Cichlid, the enlarged forehead is a result of selective breeding by humans for aesthetic purposes. 

These pronounced foreheads can also serve as fat storage, aiding fish during times of food scarcity.

Final Thoughts

In the vast world of aquatic life, fish with big foreheads stand out as unique and captivating. 

These species, often adorned with pronounced bulges or “nuchal humps,” are not only visually striking but also carry a certain mystique in the world of aquarists. 

As we’ve explored in this article, there are numerous types of these fish, each with its own story and characteristics. 

While some may be drawn to their aesthetic appeal, others might be fascinated by their behavior or natural habitats. Regardless of the reason, fish with big foreheads are admired by many. 

Do you think these aquatic creatures are interesting? Share with us your take on fish with big foreheads by leaving a comment below!

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