🦈Do fish have teeth?

Yes, almost all fish have teeth for capturing , crushing, and grinding their prey. Some fish teeth in their upper and lower jaws while some have in their throat. The location, number, and size of the teeth might vary for different species of fish depending on their food and surrounding conditions.

Do all fish have teeth?

Yes, most fish have teeth. It is very rare that fish don’t have teeth. Almost all fish have teeth of different sizes, types, and at different locations.

Most people don’t believe that fish have teeth because their teeth are not easily visible. However, almost all of them have teeth. Some popular fish such as shark, piranha, and dolphins have teeth in their jaws which can be easily located. However, some fish don’t have teeth in their mouth but they still have teeth that are not easy to see. For example, the fish family of Cyprinidae which are found in freshwater doesn’t have teeth in their jaw but they have pharyngeal teeth.

You will be surprised to know that some fish have a tongue with teeth and few even have teeth on their eyeballs. Different fish have evolved their teeth for different purposes according to their surrounding conditions. In fish, teeth can be present at different locations such as lips, upper and lower jaws, tongue, and pharynx/throat.

Teeth on lips
Pharyngeal Teeth
Teeth on Upper Jaws

Teeth on Tongue

Why do fish have teeth?

We know that the primary function of teeth is to chew and grind food but in the case of fish, their teeth have more than one purpose. In carnivores’ fish such as sharks, teeth are evolved such that they can easily catch, hold, puncture, cut and kill their prey while herbivores fish have teeth that are more suitable for shredding things.

The front Incisors teeth present in the upper and lower jaw are mainly used for catching, holding, and killing prey while the molar teeth present at the back are used for cutting and grinding of food. Some fish such as dragonfish have large and sharp fang-like teeth to catch and kill their prey.

Few fish have teeth on their tongue to kill, rasp flesh and suck blood from its prey. Their tongue also helps to push food quickly through the mouth such that the food will be crushed by pharyngeal teeth.

Read: 🐠 How Do Fish Taste?

It is interesting to note that not all fish chew food in their mouth as most mammals do. They just swallow their prey and the pharyngeal teeth present in the throat to chew and grind the food into smaller particles. Fish who have pharyngeal teeth are considered as pharyngognathus. The most popular fish that have pharyngeal teeth are goldfish and loaches. Teeth in the throat are common in fish who lack teeth.

According to a study conducted by Okinawa Churashima Research Center, whale sharks have tiny teeth on their eyeball. These tiny teeth provide armor to the eyes of the whale shark. These small denticles are present in large numbers around the iris on the eye surface which plays important role in eye protection.

There are some fish that lacks jaw such as lamprey. These fish have a buccal funnel-like mouth having circular rows of sharp teeth to rasp the flesh of the prey. They generally feed by sucking their prey’s body fluids and tissues.

What types of teeth do fish have?

Different fish have evolved different teeth depending on their diet and environmental conditions. For example, parrotfish are herbivores, generally found in coral reefs, and seagrass beds. They mainly feed on epilithic algae which grow on rocks. Parrotfish have strong jaws that can leave visible scars on the rock surface. There are mainly four types of teeth found in fish: molars, canines, incisors, and tooth plates.

Read: ⭐ How Do Starfish Eat?

Molar Teeth: Fish such as cichlids, chimaera, and skates have molar teeth and strong jawbone bone to grab and grind prey (such as Mollusca) armored with shells.

Canine Teeth: To catch and bite prey not having armor shells, fish need long, sharp conical and slightly curved teeth. These teeth are canine teeth, generally used for holding food in order to tear it apart.

Incisors Teeth: Incisors are teeth present in upper and lower jaw of the fish that is used to cut food.

Tooth Plates: Tooth plates are hard structures found on the mouth opening of the fish. They are not replaceable as other teeth. They can be found in fish such as parrotfish, in which they are infused into the beak.

Parrot Fish with beak

How many teeth does fish have?

The number of teeth in a fish can vary from species to species. Some fish have more teeth than others because of their diet and surrounding conditions. There are some fish who don’t have teeth in their mouth but have teeth in their throat. Fish such as lamprey don’t have jaw but have a large number of teeth present in 11 or 12 rows in concentric circles.

Fish such as shark can have more than 30,000 teeth in their lifetime. They have multiple rows of teeth inside their jaws such that each tooth gets replacement at regular periods. This tooth replacement period might vary from 8 days to a few months.

Read: 🐠 Can Fish Drown?

Do fish have teeth like humans?

Yes, there are fish such as sheepshead which have teeth like humans. They also have teeth consist of incisors and molars which they use to catch, kill, and grind their prey. Their teeth are sort of temporary and not as strong as human teeth. Due to the presence of multiple rows of teeth in their jaws, their teeth get replaced at regular intervals. In this way, they can have a large number of teeth over their lifetime whereas human teeth only get replaced once in their lifetime. Humans don’t have teeth pharyngeal teeth in their throat as fish do.

So if you still have this question that how many fish have teeth?

The answer is most of the fish have teeth. These teeth can be located in different places such as lips, jaws, throat, and eyeballs. The number of teeth and their size and type also varies from fish to fish depending on their diet and the surrounding environment.

Read: 🐟 Can a fish survive in milk?

Let’s look at some of the examples of fish having different type of teeth.

  1. Parrotfish
  2. Sheepshead Fish
  3. Pacu Fish
  4. Piranha
  5. Dragonfish
  6. Shark
Pacu Fish
Dragon Fish
Sheepshead Fish
Piranha Fish
White Shark

Read more interesting questions about fish:

Professor Atom

View posts by Professor Atom
Professor Atom is a science enthusiast and alumni of IIT Bombay. According to him, every question can be solved with curiosity and mind mapping. ( Curiosity = Asking Questions = Learning )

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