What Fish are without scales? 

Catfish, sharks, chimeras, skates, rays, moray eels, sturgeons, paddlefishes, sailfin blennies, combtooth blennies, hagfish, and lampreys are examples of fish without scales. This article will cover the concern “What Fish are without scales”, their types, characteristic features, etc.

What Fish are without scales?  

Fish that don’t have scales include catfish, sharks, rays, etc. Most of the fish have evolved alternatives of scales. Cartilaginous fish like sharks not only lack scales, but they also lack bones in their skeleton. Their cartilaginous body skeleton allows them flexibility and they can grow to enormous sizes. 

The largest fish without scales on earth is the whale shark which can grow up to 30 feet long. The manta ray is also a huge fish and grows around 22 feet. They don’t have scales but they have denticles, tiny teeth that make their hides feel like sandpaper. 

There are some other alternatives to scales as sturgeons have scutes. Scutes are bony plates more often seen in crocodilians. They also have a huge size and can live up to a great age. The average lifespan of sturgeon fish is about 82 years. 

Lampreys are primitive fish and have round, jawless mouths lined with rows of teeth. Some lampreys are parasites in nature and grab onto other fish with their mouths. While some rasp a hole in the flesh and feed on body fluids. 

Which type of fish doesn’t have scales? 

There are generally believed to be two categories of fish without scales: 

  • Jawless fish that don’t have any scales or dermal bones. 
  • Most eels are scaleless, however, some have smooth cycloid scales. 

A scale on fish is a bit of a hard plate that comes from fish’s skin. Fish that don’t have scales develop strong rubbery skin or bony plates. In most fish without scales, slime or mucus covers their bodies and protects them against disease-causing pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. 

Examples of Fish without scales 

Here is a list of fish without scales found all around the globe: 


Hagfish are eel-shaped fish, don’t have any vertebral column, and release slime into water. Water containing hagfish smells like chlorine. It’s one of the oldest fish in the world and it’s advised not to eat this fish. It’s a type of worm with no spinal cord. 


Lampreys come in snake-like bodies. It’s jawless and its mouth is full of horrible teeth but they don’t bite humans. They live in freshwater and belong to the taxonomic class Agnatha. They have a sharp beak, a pair of eyes, two pairs of fins, and a pair of gills.

Eel fish 

Eel fish is one of the most popular fish because of its snake-like body. There are different shapes and species of eel fish. They are predators and kill their prey by giving them electric shocks. Eel blood is also considered dangerous and can kill other animals. 

Skate fish 

Skate fish has 17 genres and belongs to the Rajidae family. Some of the skatefish have stinging spines called stingrays. Generally, skatefish are harmless and can be eaten. The most common skatefish is the short-finned skate and there are more than 50 species of skatefish in the world. 

Benguela Compass Jelly 

They are generally found on the South African coast and are without scales and fins. They are around 2 meters long and look like jellyfish. They tend to change their color at different ages. Mostly they are maroon and transparent. They cannot be eaten and can cause allergies. 

Red Chested Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumbers are soft and fleshy, with their body covered in small tube-like structures, called sea cucumber tubes or sucker tubes. They belong to the echinoderm species and are without arms. People eat it in some coastal areas. However, it’s harmful to other fishes. 

Ornate Sleeper Ray 

They are similar to skatefish and are a kind of electric ray with their length being around 3.5 feet. They have grayish-brown bodies and darker spots on the body. They have a long snout, rounded tail, two dorsal fins, and a dorsal fin spine. It usually resides in sea reefs and is found near South Africa. 

Are fish without scales healthy? 

Eating fish that don’t have scales is considered healthy. Fish meal 2-3 times a week is suggested, as it is rich in minerals including Omega-3 fatty acids and iron. Scales are less likely to cause choking if appropriately used. Cook your fish properly before eating. 

However, some of them are toxic for humans and should be avoided at any cost. It’s because of the fact that fish without scales are more exposed to virus and bacteria attacks than fish with scales. Scales protect fish from radical impacts to some level. 


Today, we covered the article “What Fish are without scales?”, their types, characteristic features, etc. From the above discussion, it’s clear that fishes like eel fish, catfish, and hagfish fall in the category of fish without scales. Some of them are edible and some should be avoided at all costs.



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