Pacific viperfish

(Chauliodus macouni)

A big mouth isn’t an issue for this toothy predator.

Sleek, silvery, and adorned with modest bioluminescence along their bellies, Pacific viperfish (Chauliodus macouni) make fearsome predators for small fish and shrimp. They are among the countless marine animals that migrate each night from the ocean’s depths towards shallower surface waters to dine. 

The Pacific viperfish’s needle-like teeth are the key to their hunting strategy. The two front fangs, which jut up from the fish’s bottom jaw past its own eyes, are especially dramatic. When viperfish unhinge their jaws, their mouths can open wide enough to engulf prey, while the teeth form a cage to prevent an escape. 

Fast Facts

Maximum size: 30 centimeters (12 inches)

Depth: 200–1,500 meters (655–5,000 feet)

Habitat: midwater

Range: northern Pacific Ocean

Diet: small crustaceans, chaetognaths, and small fishes


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