A Moment of Science

Smallest Fish

What is the smallest fish? Find out on this Moment of Science.

Two marine scientists recently found treasures in trash.

A fish that was captured about twenty-five years ago, but which was left unstudied all this time, is now revealed to be a new species. And not only that, but the new species sets the new world record for smallest and lightest fish, as well as for smallest and lightest animal with a backbone.

The largest of the specimens studied, and the only female, measures about a third of an inch long. The males are a tad over a quarter inch long. They weigh so little that it would take about five hundred thousand of the little guys and gals to accumulate a pound.

These are full-grown adult fish, however, the fish do possess characteristics typical of fish larvae. They lack pigmentation and are transparent. And they lack teeth and scales. Fish with these characteristics are called infantfish even though they’re mature. Scientists call this new species stout infantfish because they’re a tad thicker than other infantfish.

You can find the world’s smallest and lightest fish at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but only a handful of specimens have been found so far.

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