Last update: November 14, 2022

11 Popular Red Fish With Big Eyes

If you are noticing the large number of fish in the sea that have a defining trait of giant eyes, you may wonder which is most popular among human beings. After all, fish are known for their round eyes!

In this article, we’ll give you our list of the 11 most popular red fish with big eyes so that you can not only learn why we like these species, but what their interestingly large eyes are used for!

Red Fish With Big Eyes

My, what big eyes these fish have! Check out our list of the top most popular fish whose eyes are simply out of this world.

  1. Squirrelfish
  2. Rockfish
  3. Bigeye Fish
  4. Spotted Ratfish
  5. Longspine Snipefish
  6. Blotcheye Soldierfish
  7. Red Telescope Goldfish
  8. Glasseye Snapper
  9. Rose Fish
  10. Splendid Alfonsino
  11. Red Roughy

Let’s take an even closer look at these big-eyed fishy friends to clue you in on what they look like, their diet, and even their scientific names!

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1. Squirrel Fish

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  • Scientific Name: Holocentridae
  • Diet: Carnivore

This smaller fish might look adorable, with comically huge, anime-like eyes, but it is actually a meat-eater! Who would have thought that this popular aquarium pet would actually be something of a pack hunter in the wild oceans? 

It’s true: squirrelfish often move in big groups, using their disproportionately large eyes to watch each other’s backs, using strength in numbers, and hunting with teamwork. You can find these pretty, big-eyed fish near reefs of coral. 

It may sound odd when you discover that squirrelfish are typically coral reef dwellers, since coral reefs are commonly found near the surface and under plenty of light. So why would any fish living there need such big eyes?

Actually, squirrelfish have another interesting habit: in addition to hunting together, they also like to hunt at nighttime, when there is much less light to see by! Such big eyes help these fish to see the faintest glimmer of prey in the dark. 

2. Rockfish

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  • Scientific Name: Sebastes 
  • Diet: Omnivore

The Rockfish is a commonly-recognized, popular fish thanks to it’s impactful silhouette! The rockfish is big and can be described as all-face or all-mouth, with a head section that is significantly larger than its spiky fins or tail.

Of that large face, the biggest feature is the round, close-set eyes! However, one interesting fact to note about this fish species’ eyes is that they do not actually bulge out when the rockfish is kept in its natural habitat.

Rockfish are bottom-dwellers, so their bodies are used to the intense pressure of the sea. This pressure is matched by an area of gas inside the rockfish called a swim bladder.

When that swim bladder is lifted out of the water, there is no pressure holding the gases in, so they can cause the eyes to pop nearly out of the rock fish’s head!

Although this looks a little intimidating when you see a rockfish out in the open air, those big eyes actually do come in handy helping the fish see food when it is in its normal home: 9,000 feet below the surface of the sea!

3. Bigeye Fish

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  • Scientific Name: Priacanthidae
  • Diet: Carnivore

With a name like this, how could a species like the Bigeye Fish not be on our list? Actually, the Bigeye Fish is very similar in looks to the Squirrelfish we mentioned earlier in this article. They are an intensely reddish orange color with a mohawk-like dorsal fin of spikes.

Their eyes, earning them their name, are huge, dominating most of their face and colored an opaque orangey-red to match the rest of their body. 

Another similarity that this punk-rock looking fish shares with the Squirrelfish is it’s living and hunting habits. Also spending time near the surface where there is plenty of light, Bigeye fish need their huge eyes for nocturnal hunting. 

Bigeye fish come in 18 sub-species, and, as you may have guessed from their fiery coloring, they are found in warm, tropical waters like the Indian Ocean and Pacific.

4. Spotted Ratfish

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  • Scientific Name: Hydrolagus Colliei
  • Diet: Carnivore

If you have ever looked down while swimming or scuba diving and thought you’d seen a stingray, chances are you actually noticed a Spotted Ratfish! Spotted ratfish, from a bird’s-eye view, do bear a striking resemblance to sting rays. 

However, spotted ratfish are distinguishable from these sea creatures primarily because they have great big eyes which are not as small or compounded into their faces as a sting ray’s might be. They come in a reddish brown color, earning them a spot on our list.

In addition, their whip-thin tail, which is sharp but not venomous to the touch, has the spots that give the fish its name. Though its tail might not pose as dangerous a threat as a sting ray’s, the Spotted Ratfish is technically poisonous for other fish to ear, and it can inject venom with its dorsal fin.

Like many of the other carnivores seen on our list, the Spotted Ratfish needs its huge eyes to help it see prey down in the depths of the sea!

5. Longspine Snipefish

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  • Scientific Name: Macroramphosus Scolopax
  • Diet: Carnivorous

The longspine snipefish may be on the pale side, but its large eyes, cute but tiny appearance, and reddish pink coloration have more than earned it a spot on this list!

The lonspine snipefish is also named for its very long spine. Sometimes it is just called a snipefish, but it has many other names to go by, including the bellowfish, spine trumpet fish, or several shortenings of these names like trumpetfish and snipefish.

These cute little guys use their eyes, which are large compared to the rest of their bodies, to spy out their prey. This prey mostly consists of copepods or ostracods, which are types of tiny crustacean zooplanktons, and benthic invertebrates. It uses its long, straw-like mouth to suck the tiny bits of prey in!

6. Blotcheye Soldierfish

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  • Scientific Name: Myripristis berndti
  • Diet: Carnivore

These reddish-orange reef dwellers have more red in their faces, which seem to be concentrated in their giant eyes, than they do over the rest of their bodies!

They only grow to be about a foot long and are also distinctive for their yellowish fins, which can sometimes also be red and white in color.

Like some of the other red big-eyed fish on this list, the Blotcheye Soldierfish is nocturnal and uses its giant gaze to find food in lower lighting.

Typically, the Blotcheye Soldierfish can be found swimming along tropical reefs, peeping from behind caves and shadowy ledges, and swimming at around 100 feet down in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

It is a popular type of prey in commercial fisheries, but it is not uncommon to find a Blotcheye Soldierfish for aquarium sales as a pet, either, as long as you have a tank that is large enough.

7. Red Telescope Goldfish

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  • Scientific Name: Carassius Auratus
  • Diet: Omnivore

When it comes to popularity, this fish might not be on top: however, in a contest of memorable eyes, the Telescope Goldfish certainly deserves a high position! It also comes in a bright, orange-red coloration.

The eyes of a telescope goldfish look very similar to how your head might look if you pretended two basketballs were your eyes. They were very appropriately named for such gigantic orbs decorating either side of their face!

Actually, Telescope Goldfish did not naturally occur as a breed of fish in the wild. Instead, their huge facial features were a result of very careful fish breeding by humans. This left Telescope Goldfish with eyes that, although large, cannot actually see very well. 

They may be named after high-vision equipment, but Telescope Goldfish are so bad at seeing their surroundings clearly that they have developed a method of vertical swimming to keep watch against danger.

8. Glasseye Snapper

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  • Scientific Name: Heteropriacantus cruentatus
  • Diet: Carnivore

The glasseye snapper does come in a red to green coloration with spots, and its eyes are the reddest and largest memorable feature! Though its name suggests that it belongs to the snapper family, this fish is actually not typical of Snappers. It acts much more like soldierfish and squirrel fish.

The glasseye snapper is another nocturnal hunter, but it is different from the squirrel fish in that it is not quite as shy during the day time.

It tends to hide itself from danger and predators, not by swimming away, but by holding very still! This makes the glasseye snapper a popular red fish for photographers.

9. Rose Fish

  • Scientific Name: Sebastes norvegicus
  • Diet: Carnivore

Our next bright, large-eyed fish goes by many names! Sometimes simply referred to by its scientific name, the Rose Fish is also called the ocean perch, the Norway Haddoc, the pink belly rose fish, the Atlantic Redfish, and even the golden redfish!

No matter what you decide to call this fish, it’s deep red color and big, sometimes blue eyes give it a spot on our list.

The Rose fish is usually found around Norway in the North Sea. It tends to live in fjords, inshore waters like the Grand Banks, and bays while it is growing up. Once the Rose Fish reaches a mature age, it lives further off the coasts at more than 3000 feet in depth!

Usually the Rose Fish uses its large eyes to find small prey like capelin, krill, and other fish like herring. 

Unfortunately, the Rose Fish is such a popular fish for fishermen that they are considered overfished since the early 2000s and are on the World Wide Fund for Nature’s list of animals to avoid hunting. 

10. Splendid Alfonsino

  • Scientific Name: Beryx splendens
  • Diet: Carnivore

This fancily named fish is part of the small alfonsino family which is related to our earlier red, big-eyed fish, the Squirrel fish! A Splendid Alfonsino is usually at its largest if it reaches a length of 28 inches in growth, but no matter how long it gets, its big golden eyes remain its most prominent feature!

Otherwise, you can recognize a Splendid Alfonsino fish by its red-to-orange coloring and small fins, whether dorsal or tail. In Japan, this fish is called “kinmedai,” which means “golden eye snapper,” though it is not technically a snapper fish. 

This fish is considered very popular for its delicious taste as sushi in cuisine. It is actually served at restaurants of the Edomae tradition, where the meat of the fish is allowed to age for a day or three after being killed.

After it ages, the flavor and texture of the fish is greatly increased by the enzymes breaking down the Splendid Alfonsino’s protein. Then, the professional will carefully cook the skin with a blowtorch or a charcoal grill and dinner is served!

11. Red Roughy

  • Scientific Name: Hopostethus Atlanticus
  • Diet: Carnivore

Finishing out our list is the Red Roughy, which is also called the orange roughy when its bright coloration leans more toward that alternate coloration! Other names for this fish are the rather unflattering slimehead or deep sea perch.

It is this deep sea, nearly 6,000 foot habitat that gives the Red Roughy a need for such large, pretty eyes! Though its coral-shaped face markings and popularity as a commercially hunted fish are worth noting, the really interesting thing about the Red Roughy is its lifespan.

A Red Roughy can live for as long as 200 years! It is also very interesting to note that after such an ancient fish dies, its red color immediately begins to fade into a more mild yellow.

The fish has a personality for being slow moving and actually losing some of that red color whenever they stop moving, too! A fascinating way to round out our list.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many popular fish with gigantic eyes to be found in the sea, but none quite as recognizable as the Squirrelfish.

Typically, carnivores like the Squirrel Fish and the other members of our list, such as the Spotted Ratfish and Bigeye Fish, need their huge eyes to find prey in the darkest parts of the ocean.

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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