27 Most Popular Types of Fish With Legs

Types of fish with legs

Fish with legs might sound like a tale from ancient myths, but our oceans and freshwater habitats are home to such fascinating creatures. 

Usually, people associate legged fish with the Mexican walking fish, also known as the axolotl. However, this is not entirely accurate, as the axolotl is a type of salamander, not a fish. 

In this guide, we’ll explore 27 of the most popular types of actual fish with legs and feet. Whether you’re an avid marine lover or just beginning your aquatic adventure, this article will enlighten and entertain you.

27 Types of Fish With Legs 

1. Armored Searobin (Peristedion spp.)

Armored Searobin
Image credit: japan_zoo_aquarium / Instagram

The armored searobin is a unique fish species known for its ability to “walk” along the ocean floor. Utilizing its pectoral fin, which resembles legs, it moves in a manner that mirrors walking, enabling it to navigate the seabed. 

These fins resemble legs and are robust, making Armored Searobins stand out among many fish. 

Hailing from the Atlantic Ocean, these aquatic creatures are typically spotted in sandy or muddy habitats. Their moniker is derived from the bony plates that envelop their body, lending them an “armored” look. 

While they’re categorized as small fish, their distinctive movement and appearance make them a peculiar fish to study.

2. Bichir (Polypterus spp.)


The Bichir, often called a “dinosaur eel,” is an ancient species of freshwater fish that showcases how fish have evolved. These elongated fish have the ability to move on land using their strong pectoral fins that look like legs. 

This unique walking motion, reminiscent of land animals from millions of years ago, allows bichirs to navigate efficiently across the land and water interface of their environment. 

Native to Africa, these fish can reach impressive sizes and are covered in thick, bony scales, giving them a prehistoric appearance. 

3. Chinese Hillstream Loaches (Beaufortia kweichowensis)

Chinese Hillstream Loaches

The Chinese Hillstream Loach is a tiny fish with a remarkable trait: it’s one of the species of fish that has legs. As their name implies, these fish are found in China and are adapted to live in rapid waters.

Using their specialized fins as legs, these loaches move across rocks in fast-flowing streams, much like how land animals navigate rough terrain.

These fins act like leg-like appendages, enabling the fish to cling to surfaces and move about their environment. 

Their flattened bodies help them resist strong currents, making them fascinating fish out of water or when observed outside their natural habitat.

4. Climbing Gourami (Anabantidae)

Climbing Gourami

Often found in the waters of Asia, the Climbing Gourami is a small but resilient creature. They are not your typical freshwater fish found in aquariums. 

These little fish lie in wait and possess the incredible ability to “walk” or climb using their fins as legs. These leg-like appendages enable the fish to move across wet surfaces and even climb aquatic plants. 

Their unique movement is complemented by their ability to breathe atmospheric oxygen, allowing them to survive in low-oxygen waters. 

While they might not live on land like land animals, their ability to navigate their watery world in such a unique way is truly remarkable.

5. Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum)

Epaulette Shark

The Epaulette Shark is a rare fish known for its ability to navigate the seafloor using its leg-like appendages, making it one of the few species of fish that can walk.

Utilizing their strong and muscular pectoral fins, these sharks can move across shallow reef flats and tidal pools, almost like a fish out of water. This unique movement helps the fish navigate areas with low oxygen during low tides.

Originating from the waters around Australia, Epaulette Sharks are relatively small, growing up to about 40 inches in length. 

They’re easily recognizable by the two large black spots on their sides, resembling military epaulets, hence their name. Unsurprisingly, it is also called the walking shark.

6. Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)

Flying Gurnard

The Flying Gurnard is a captivating species renowned for its ability to use its “legs” for a “walking” motion on the ocean floor. Contrary to what some might think, these fish don’t have legs in the traditional sense. 

They gracefully glide over the seabed, searching for food. While the name suggests flight, these fish actually don’t take to the skies. Instead, their “wings” spread out, displaying a brilliant array of colors when threatened.

Found in tropical Atlantic waters, Flying Gurnards can grow up to 20 inches in length. Their unique appearance and ability to use their legs to walk make them a favorite of underwater observers and divers.

Watch this video to see these fish with legs showcasing their wings:

Facts: The Flying Gurnard

7. Frogfish (Antennariidae)


The Frogfish is a master of disguise and movement, truly showcasing how talented fish with legs can be. These quirky-looking species are experts at “walking” along the ocean floor using their leg-like pectoral fins. 

Their modified fins allow them to move slowly and stealthily, which is essential for their ambush hunting style. 

Found in tropical and subtropical oceans, these fish with leg-like appendages vary in size but are generally small, often less than eight inches. 

Their appearance is characterized by a lumpy and camouflaged body, helping them blend seamlessly with their surroundings. 

8. Goosefish or Monkfish (Lophius spp.)

Goosefish or Monkfish

The Goosefish, often referred to as Monkfish, is a captivating example of how some fish have legs. 

This bottom-dwelling species has an intriguing method of movement. Using their modified pectoral fins, Goosefish “walk” along the seabed, positioning themselves to ambush prey. 

Their pseudo legs, which are actually their fins, provide stability and mobility in their sandy or muddy habitat. 

These fish belong to the waters of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Size-wise, they can grow impressively large, with some individuals reaching up to 5 feet

9. Little Dragonfish (Eurypegasus draconis)

Little Dragonfish

The Little Dragonfish is a captivating creature that uses its modified pelvic fins to walk along the seafloor. 

These fins allow these fish to move gracefully, almost as if they’re tiptoeing on the ocean bed, showcasing how they can seemingly walk.

Found primarily in the Indo-Pacific region, these species are small, usually measuring only about 3 inches in length. Their body is armored with bony plates, giving them a dragon-like appearance, hence their name. 

These Little Dragonfish’s ability to use their legs, combined with their intriguing appearance, makes them a subject of interest for many marine biologists and aquarium enthusiasts. 

10. Mudskipper (Oxudercinae)


The Mudskipper is a prime example of how some fish are legged creatures of the sea. 

These amphibious fish with legs can move on land using their pectoral fins, which are used to traverse muddy terrains and climb mangrove roots. 

Predominantly found in the mangrove swamps, tidal mudflats, and estuaries of the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic regions, these fish are a group that’s generally small in size.

Usually, most species of this group measure less than 4 inches. However, they sport distinctive large, bulging eyes that are strategically positioned on top of their heads. 

Their unique eyes grant them the ability to see both above and below the water. 

11. Red-lipped Batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini)

Red lipped Batfish

The Red-lipped Batfish is a distinctive marine species, especially popular among those intrigued by “fish with legs.” These fish are renowned for their bright red lips and their unique ability to walk on the ocean floor. 

Unlike many marine creatures, they don’t rely on traditional swimming. Instead, they employ their modified pectoral fins, which function almost like legs and are used for a walking-like movement. 

Native to the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands, these fish are easily recognizable not just for their lipstick-like mouth but also their flat body and peculiar appearance. 

12. Pacific Leaping Blenny (Alticus saliens)

Pacific Leaping Blenny

The Pacific Leaping Blenny is a small fish that has mastered the art of movement both in and out of the water, showcasing how some fish have legs or leg-like appendages. 

Instead of just swimming like typical marine creatures, these fish use their strong, modified foot to climb and walk across rocky surfaces, demonstrating their adaptability. 

Native to the western Pacific Ocean, they’re often found in tidal pools and coastal areas. Growing up to 2 inches in length, their body is elongated with varying colors that help them blend into their rocky environment. 

What’s truly remarkable about this species is their ability to leap from rock to rock using their legs, which are used for avoiding predators and catching food.

13. Panther Flounder (Bothus pantherinus)

Panther Flounder

The Panther Flounder, also called Leopard Flounder, is a remarkable example of how some fish have legs, or rather, use their fins in a leg-like manner. 

With their distinctively flat body and camouflaging spots, these fish can walk and have a unique way of moving across the ocean floor. Instead of the typical swimming motion, they employ their fins to “walk” or shuffle along the seabed.

Found mainly in the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region, the panther flounder is renowned for their ability to change their colors and patterns to match their surroundings. 

While they can swim, they prefer to stay close to the sandy or muddy bottom, where they hunt for small fish and crustaceans.

Pro Tip: Many still get confused between a flounder, like the Panther Flounder, and a halibut.

Generally, flounders are smaller and have oval or round-shaped bodies, while halibuts are larger and sport diamond-shaped bodies. Meanwhile, here are other ways to identify flounders from halibuts.

14. Pink Handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus)

Pink Handfish
Image credit: shockinganimals / Instagram

The Pink Handfish is a rare and captivating species that doesn’t swim like typical marine creatures. Instead, these fish with legs prefer to walk using their hand-like pectoral fins. 

Found mainly in the waters off Tasmania, these fish moves along the seafloor using their legs, which are also used for searching their prey. 

Their distinct pinkish hue, combined with their walking behavior, make them a fascinating subject of study among marine enthusiasts. 

Unlike many other species, Pink Handfish stay close to the bottom, navigating the land using their pectoral fins. Their unique appearance and method of movement have garnered significant attention.

15. Red Gurnard (Chelidonichthys kumu)

Red Gurnard

The Red Gurnard is a captivating species, and it’s one of those unique types of fish with legs. These fish have the remarkable ability to “walk” on the seafloor. 

Utilizing their modified pectoral fins, Red Gurnards move in a manner that closely resembles walking. These fins are expansive and wing-like, often fanning out as the fish explores their surroundings. 

Native to the waters of the Indo-Pacific region, Red Gurnards boast a vibrant red hue, making them easily distinguishable among other fish.

Another interesting feature is the grunting sound they emit, which is how they earned their name. This fish can grow up to 15 inches in length and are typically found in sandy or muddy environments.

16. Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus)

Red Handfish
Image credit: news_o_matic / Instagram

The Red Handfish is a unique species known for being one of the types of fish with feet. Like other fish species having legs, they use their hand-like pectoral fins to walk along the ocean floor.

Found primarily off the coast of Tasmania, these fish showcase a striking red appearance adorned with intricate patterns. Despite their captivating look, they’re a relatively small fish, growing only up to 4 inches in length. 

Red Handfish have a preference for rocky and seaweed-rich environments, which offer not only camouflage but also abundant prey. Unfortunately, these fish with feet are considered critically endangered.

17. Ribboned Pipefish (Haliichthys taeniophorus)

Ribboned Pipefish

The Ribboned Pipefish is a captivating species known for being one of the types of fish with legs. They use their modified fins to cling to seagrass and move in a crawling manner.

This method of movement is essential for these fish as they are required to navigate through their seagrass habitat.

Native to the waters of Australia, these fish are called the Ribboned Pipefish for their slender body adorned with ribbon-like appendages.

These appendages not only aid in movement but also provide excellent camouflage among the seagrass. Typically, Ribboned Pipefish grow to about 8 inches in length and are a sight to behold in their natural environment.

18. Robust Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus)

Robust Ghost Pipefish

The Robust Ghost Pipefish is a master of disguise and movement. Like other aquatic creatures on this list, these species of fish have legs that allow them to navigate their habitat.

Using their modified pelvic fins, these fish gracefully move along the ocean floor, often hovering just above the substrate. 

During one of my diving adventures in the Indo-Pacific region, I was observing a group of fish near some ocean plants when I noticed what seemed like a stem with attached leaves moving across the seabed.

Upon observing this amazing being closer, I noticed that it was not a plant but a fish. This made me realize how seamlessly a Robust Ghost Pipefish blends with its surroundings, mimicking leaves or seagrass. 

Their body is elongated, and their appearance can vary from green to brown, depending on their environment. Typically growing up to 8 inches, Robust Ghost Pipefish are marvels of adaptation and survival in their habitat.

19. Sargassum Fish (Histrio histrio)

Sargassum Fish

The Sargassum Fish is an intriguing example of a fish with legs, known for its ability to walk or crawl among the floating sargassum seaweed where it resides. 

Using their pectoral and pelvic fins, these fish move stealthily, blending seamlessly with their surroundings. 

Originating from the open oceans, especially the Sargasso Sea, Sargassum Fish are perfectly camouflaged to resemble the seaweed. They’re a small species, usually not exceeding 8 inches in length. 

Besides their walking ability, they’re also renowned for their incredible ambush skills to capture prey.

20. Stargazers (Uranoscopidae)


The Stargazer is a marine fish with legs, and is characterized by their upward-facing eyes. These fish have legs in the form of pectoral fins, which some species use to bury themselves in the sand and then “walk” or shuffle forward. 

This unique way of moving not only aids them in ambushing prey but also offers protection against predators. Commonly found in shallow waters, Stargazers can grow up to 22 inches, depending on the species. 

Their appearance might seem a bit intimidating due to their large mouths and top-facing eyes. However, the fact that these fish with legs can move in a walking manner makes them truly fascinating.

21. Tripod Fish (Bathypterois grallator)

Tripod Fish
Image credit: noiryaguara / Instagram

The Tripod Fish is another remarkable example of how some fish have legs, allowing it to adapt to its environment in unique ways. 

With their long, thin, and almost stick-like fins, these fish with legs can perch on the ocean floor, taking on the appearance of a tripod. 

Native to the deep waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, Tripod Fish employ their elongated fins not just for standing but also to detect prey as they drift by. 

While remaining stationary, they raise their pectoral fins, using them as sensors to understand their surroundings.

Watch this fascinating video of the Tripod Fish showcasing its legs:

Tripod fish eyeballs ROV at 1443m deep

22. Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus)

Walking Catfish

The Walking Catfish is a fascinating fish whose movement is facilitated by its robust pectoral fins, which it employs to drag itself forward. 

Originally from Southeast Asia, these catfish have also made their way to other parts of the globe. Growing up to 20 inches, they boast a slender, elongated body. 

Walking Catfish are known to journey between different water bodies, particularly during the rainy seasons. Their specialized respiratory system allows them to endure on land for prolonged durations.

23. West African Lungfish (Protopterus annectens)

West African Lungfish

The West African lungfish is a remarkable freshwater species, often cited when discussing fish with legs. These fish have the unique capability to move using leg-like appendages. 

These appendages, in reality, are modified pectoral and pelvic fins that empower the lungfish to crawl along the substrate. 

Such movement becomes particularly beneficial when these fish find themselves in shallow waters or during dry seasons, prompting them to burrow into the mud. 

Originating from West Africa, these lungfish can attain sizes of up to 40 inches. Their elongated physique and distinctive fins give them a prehistoric aura, echoing the visages of ancient fish ancestors. 

24. Ziebell’s Handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis)

Ziebells Handfish
Image credit: biologadecabecera / Instagram

The Ziebell’s Handfish is a captivating species that stands out in the world of fish with legs. These remarkable fish have the unique ability to walk on the seafloor. 

Unlike most aquatic creatures, they don’t rely solely on swimming. Instead, they utilize their hand-like pectoral fins to move in a walking or crawling manner. 

This special mode of locomotion enables Ziebell’s Handfish to expertly navigate the seabed, searching for food and shelter. 

Predominantly found off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, these fish are easily identifiable by their unique appearance, often showcasing a body adorned with diverse patterns and hues. 

However, this species is sadly considered endangered due to its restricted habitat range and environmental degradation.

25. Snakehead Fish (Channidae)

Snakehead Fish

The Snakehead Fish, an intriguing aquatic species, challenges the concept of fish with its unique characteristics and its leg-like appendages.

Boasting a long, serpentine body, these fish-like creatures have the ability to walk on land, moving with side-to-side motion, hence the name.

Predominantly found in freshwater habitats across Africa and Asia, Snakehead Fish are large fish that can feed on small fish with ease. 

Their ability to traverse between water bodies sets them apart from the usual fish we know. While their dominant presence is felt underwater, their ability to walk on land makes them one of the most unique fish in the world.

I recall my first encounter with these fish during a research expedition to Asia during my master’s studies. The locals spoke of a fish that could venture out of the water and move on land. 

This seemed like something straight out of a sci-fi novel to me at first. But seeing the Snakehead Fish in its natural habitat, I witnessed this remarkable ability firsthand.

26. Spiny Eel (Mastacembelidae)

Spiny Eel

The Spiny Eel, while not really a fish in the traditional sense, is a member of a group of fish that captivates with its behavior and form.

Characterized by their elongated body, these aquatic species use their form to navigate the muddy or sandy bottoms, much like fish in aquariums that burrow.

Native to regions in Africa and parts of Asia, these large fish resemble extinct fish species with their dorsal spines.

Their movement through the substrate, almost as if they had arms and legs, showcases the diverse ways living fish species have evolved to interact with their environment.

27. Sea Moth (Pegasidae)

Sea Moth

The Sea Moth, a tiny fish that lies in wait on the seafloor, offers a glimpse into the wonders of marine life with modified pelvic fins that act as legs. They can walk across the ocean floor, a behavior not common to many fish.

Endemic to the Indo-Pacific region, especially areas like the West Indian Ocean, these fish feed on small fish and invertebrates. 

Their method of movement, combined with their wing-like pectoral fins, makes them stand out. As they traverse the ocean bed, they use their legs not just for walking but also to uncover prey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fish with legs in an aquarium

What Are Fish With Legs Called?

Fish that have the ability to “walk” or move using leg-like appendages are often referred to as “walking fish.” 

However, it’s essential to note that these aren’t true legs like those of land animals. Instead, these fish have modified fins that allow them to move in a manner similar to walking.

What Freshwater Fish Looks Like It Has Legs?

One of the most notable freshwater fish that appears to have “legs” is the Mudskipper. This unique fish uses its pectoral fins to move around on mudflats and even climb mangrove roots. 

Another example is the Lungfish, which uses its lobed fins to crawl along the bottom of its freshwater habitat.

Is There a Walking Fish?

Yes, several fish species exhibit walking-like behavior. The most famous among them is the Mudskipper, which can walk on land using its modified fins. 

Other examples include the Handfish, Frogfish, and Batfish, all of which use their specialized fins to “walk” on the seafloor.

What Was the First Fish With Legs?

The first fish believed to have developed leg-like appendages is Tiktaalik roseae. Discovered in the Canadian Arctic, Tiktaalik is considered a transitional fossil, showcasing features of both fish and early tetrapods. 

It had robust fins capable of supporting its weight, suggesting it could move in shallow waters or muddy shores, bridging the evolutionary gap between aquatic and land animals.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative for you. Make sure to leave your thoughts and questions about the different species of fish with legs in the comments below!

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