22 Fish With a Big Forehead (with Pictures)

Fish with a big forehead are commonly found in warm fresh waters or brackish waters around the world.

They live in streams, rivers, and even oceans. Some fish with big foreheads are found in multiple oceans and regions of the world.

The reason for the big forehead varies but it is generally seen as a fat reserve in active and adult males.

Some females may also have a big forehead, depending on the unique characteristics of each species or on other factors such as age.

Small and large fish can have big foreheads. Some of them are also seen in aquariums based on the contrasting appearance that makes them stand out.

A good number of these fish are aggressive or territorial, and may not be suitable for captivity.

Some of the typical reasons why fish with big foreheads are threatened include global warming which destroys natural habitats such as coral reefs or overfishing.

Here are some of the most common fish with big foreheads with their distinctive traits and the most common areas of the world they can be found in today.

Many have outgrown their natural habitat spreading to new areas all around the world.

1. Oranda Goldfish

Oranda Goldfish

Commonly seen in Asia and ponds around the world, Oranga Goldfish is a fish with 12 variants, numbering 12 variants that have a big forehead.

This species may often be referred to as The Holland fish, due to its supposed origin.

All species of Oranda Goldfish have a large forehead which may have a contrasting color or the same color as the rest of the body.

The Red-cap Oranda is one of the fish of the species that has a red enlarged forehead while the rest of its body is mostly gray.

The Orange Orange has a bright pink-to-white bid forehead and face, while the rest of its body is orange.

The wen or the forehead of the species is the main attraction of these fish but also their main limitation.

Oranda foreheads tend to grow large and they might even grow over the top of the eyes, preventing the fish from having great vision.

This is why these fish are often raised together with other fish with large foreheads.

Distribution – China, Japan

2. Texas Cichlid

Texas Cichlid

The male Texas Cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus) is a fish that grows a large nuchal hump on the head. This species has a base gray color with a body and head covered in small dots.

Texas Cichlid also comes in others colors, such as red. This also makes it a good type of fish to consider in captivity.

As its name implies, this fish is found around regions of Texas and Northern Mexico.

Its spotted appearance and large forehead may also make it a fish to grow in captivity, as long as there’s warm water for it to survive.

Growing up to a length of 6 inches on average and 13 inches at most, this fish is mainly spotted in Texas and a larger area around New Orleans.

Not as common in Florida, and Texas Cichlid is tolerant of salt water.

Distribution – Texas, Louisiana

3. Redhump Eartheater

Redhump Eartheater

The male Redhump Eartheater (Geophagus steindachneri) is a species with a very large forehead. Its forehead is often brightly colored as opposed to its almost white head.

Females of the species also have bright heads, but they lack the enlarged forehead seen in males.

A large nuchal hump on the head of the male may serve as an attraction point for females.

These types of fish are mostly seen in the large rivers of Northern South America.

Different types of habitats are further specific to this species found in many countries. In some regions, this fish is only found in up-mountain streams.

These types of fish feed on different types of organic material they find at the bottom of the riverbed.

Redhump Eartheaters feed on large amounts of sand and only swallow organic material while spitting out sand particles without any nutritional value.

Distribution – Colombia, Venezuela

4. Front Cichlid

Front Cichlid

A large nuchal hump or a large forehead is specific to The Front Cichlid (Cyphotilapia frontosa). This species always has a large forehead but it tends to grow even larger as the fish ages.

Only found in Lake Tanganyika (the largest freshwater lake in the world), this type of fish has a black and blue head and a black body with white stripes.

Only found in the Northern parts of the lake, the fish is known for its preference for great water depths which makes it a rare sight.

Cooler surface-level water temperatures are among the exceptions when the fish raises closer to the surface.

This happens in the morning after the lake’s water has cooled overnight. The fish takes advantage of eating small fish closer to the surface at this time of the day.

Distribution – Lake Tanganyika, Africa

5. Raggedfin Parrotfish

Chlorurus rhakoura
Raggedfin Parrotfish. Image by Tony Ayling via inaturalist

Found around Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Indian Ocean, the male Raggedfin Parrotfish (Chlorurus rhakoura) is also known for its large forehead.

This species has several unique physical traits such as having a large forehead, a dark appearance, and a contrasting white mouth.

A dark purple color is specific to Raggedfin Parrotfish. Its nuance is closer to black, as the fish is barely visible in low light.

Its white mouth is what contrasts its white appearance.

Raggedfin Parrotfish is a species found close to the surface.

Mostly not suitable for eating, this type of fish has a widespread distribution up to The West Coast of Australia.

It has been recorded on the East Coast of Africa and small populations have even been discovered in The Mediterranean.

A migratory species, The Raggedfin Parrotfish migrates to The Mediterranean through The Suez Canal.

Distribution – Asia, Middle East

6. Knothead Parrotfish

Chlorurus oedema
Knothead Parrotfish. Image by Shigeru Harazaki via inaturalist

Raggedfin fish and Knothead Parrotfish (Chlorurus oedema) share their appearance and distribution.

This fish species has a dark blue-to-black appearance and a large forehead.

Fish of the species are characterized by uniform blue coloring, without spots. Found closer to the surface, this species may show a larger forehead with age.

The forehead of the species isn’t characterized as globular as with other types of fish. Instead, its forehead is seen as a tall vertical drop from the back of its head to its eyes.

Some of the best times to see this species is during the breeding period when it can be spotted in pairs.

Distribution – Asia, Middle East

7. Redhead Cichlid

Redhead Cichlid

A multicolored appearance and a large forehead are specific to The Redhead Cichlid (Vieja melanurus). This fish has a yellow face, a red head, and a yellow and green-silver body.

Found in slow-moving waters and rivers that flow into The Atlantic, this fish has a tall head that’s flattened on the sides.

Not all Redhead Cichlids have this tall forehead and this color combination. Its region and even water clarity levels are belied to impact its coloring.

Male Redhead Cichlids are slightly larger than females and are also more likely to grow a larger head.

This species can be adapted to warm aquariums and its multicolored appearance makes it a common sight in captivity.

Distribution – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize

8. Peacock Goby

Peacock Goby (male)

The male Peacock Goby (Tateurndina ocellicauda) is slightly different from females in size, shape, and color.

A large nuchal hump is specific to the male’s forehead. Males also grow up to 20% larger than females, reaching a length of up to 3 inches.

Males have large heads and darker dorsal colors backed by contrasting red patterns on the sides.

Females are brighter dorsally but also exhibit red or pink lateral patterns.

It’s believed to the larger forehead of the male may act to its advantage when it comes to breeding.

The larger male often swims around the female which may or may not accept to breed.

A small number of eggs are laid by the female which accepts the breeding initiative of the male.

This species can be found in small rivers and ponds in tropical freshwater.

Distribution – Papua New Guinea

9. Three Spot Cichlid

Three Spot Cichlid

A large forehead and a colorful body are specific to the male Three Spot Cichlid (Cichlasoma trimaculatum).

This is a fish species known to have considerable differences between the sexes. Males are both larger and feature a large forehead compared to females.

A uniform yellow color is specific to this fish.

Males that show a larger forehead also have a darker top of the head. Pink nuances are seen on its head with dark pink regions under the head.

Blue and black eyespots are further distinguishable on the sides of the fish.

This species feeds on various insects found in the water or which are fed to them in captivity.

Its natural range includes the Western and Southern ranges of Central California.

Three Spot cichlids are also confirmed in Southern Florida.

Distribution – Mexico, El Salvador, Florida

10. Midas Cichlid

Midas Cichlid

Midas Cichlids (Amphilophus citrinellus) come in different colors such as uniform orange, orange-yellow, or orange and gray.

The males of the species show a large forehead which has the color of the body.

Orange Midas Cichlids have an orange head while gray variants with orange spots have a gray head.

Found at the bottom of the water, this fish species is specialized in feeding on various plants.

It also eats small fish it can swallow.

These fish are also found in various large aquariums. Aggressive by nature, Midas Cichlids are larger than other cichlids.

Based on also having larger teeth, these fish can dominate aquariums or drive other males out of their breeding territories.

A type of freshwater fish, Orange Midas Cichlids may reach a length of up to 16 inches.

Distribution – San Juan River in Costa Rica

11. California Sheephead

California Sheephead

Male California Sheepheads (Bodianus pulcher) have a larger forehead compared to females.

Most people associate California Sheepheads with dangerous fish due to their large teeth.

Found along The California Coast, the fish is now not as numerous as it used to be due to overfishing.

Its large size of up to 3 feet makes it an interesting game fish.

Found in different colors such as blue and red or blue and pink, California Sheephead is often removed from fisheries to its large size and the tendency to eat smaller fish.

Since males are larger, they tend to be removed first.

California Sheephead fish can be seen throughout the year. The fish may even be seen foraging alone.

This fish is seen in rocky areas where it feeds on mollusks, small fish, and larvae.

Distribution – Gulf of California

12. Chairel Cichlid

Herichthys pantostictus
Chairel Cichlid. Image by Sergio Terán via inaturalist

A type of small fish, Chairel Cichlids (Herichthys pantostictus) have a larger head.

An olive-green and yellow color is specific to this species. They tend to darken with age from an initial silver nuance.

A fast-paced species, Chairel Cichlids are adapted to both rivers and lakes. They inhabit some of the fastest rivers in Mexico.

Growing to a size of around 5 inches, Chairel Cichlid is more common in aquariums and home ponds.

While small, this type of fish is an avid predator using its fast pace to catch all types of aquatic insects.

Distribution – East Mexico

13. Hump-headed Blenny

Hump-headed Blenny

A large forehead is specific to The Hump-headed Blenny (Blenniella gibbifrons).

Fish of this species take on the color of the substrate. They have a gray-green color with a similarly-colored head.

Small coloring differences are seen between the sexes of Hump-headed Blenny. This species only shows a large forehead in the case of males.

The male Hump-headed Blenny is also known to have more uniform coloring compared to the contrasting gray-green appearance of the females.

Mostly living around coastal areas, Hump-headed Blenny feeds themselves on water organisms.

Distribution – East Africa to Hawaii

14. Humphead Glassfish

Humphead Glassfish

A very large head inspires the name of The Humphead Glassfish (Parambassis pulcinella). This species has a large flattened forehead and a silver-glass appearance.

Native to Southeast Asia, Humphead Glassfish is a common sight in worldwide aquariums based on its atypical appearance.

Its tall forehead is backed by a silver glass-like almost transparent appearance which reflects all of the colors in the water or the aquarium.

A small species, The Humphead Glassfish shows a large forehead both on males and females.

The male of the species is larger and has a larger forehead as a result.

Humphead Glassfish is a species that likes fast-moving oxygenated waters. Most of its life is spent around waterfalls.

Reaching a maximum length of 3.1 inches, this type of fish is aggressive towards other fish both in its natural habitat and in aquariums.

Distribution – Thailand

15. Lionhead Cichlid

Lionhead Cichlid

Gray, blue, and even purple colors are specific to The Lionhead Cichlid (Steatocranus casuarius). This fish has a large forehead and atypical movement patterns.

It prefers to hop rather than swim since it lives in some of the fastest-moving waters of East Africa, often on the bottom of rocky streams and rivers.

This species has kept this hopping adaption even when raised in captivity.

Reduced buoyancy is one of the characteristics that allow this fish to hop quickly instead of swimming, which would tire the fish quickly as it lives in rapid currents.

Distribution – Congo

16. Napoleon Wrasse

Napoleon Wrasse

Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is one of the largest types of fish with a large forehead. It can grow up to a size of 6.5 feet.

Found in East Africa and around The Red Sea, this type of fish grows a large forehead with age.

Older Napoleon Wrasse grows larger foreheads with an expected similar color to its body.

Blue, green, and purple colors are specific to this type of fish.

A slow-moving species, Napoleon Wrasses rarely move fart out from their spawning locations.

This fish is long-living and starts spawning late in life. It can survive multiple decades but it suffers from overfishing.

Multiple states in Southeast Asia export large amounts of Napoleon Wrasse.

Distribution – Red Sea, Southeast Asia, Oceania

17. Mahi-Mahi


Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) is one of the most widespread fish with a big forehead. This species lives in tropical and subtropical waters all around the world.

A historic and well-documented species, this fish has a rapid growth rate, a multicolored appearance, and a forehead that grows with age.

Characterized as a fish with a single dorsal fin, Mahi-Mahis are species that reach a weight of almost 30 lbs and represent a common game species.

This fish has a golden color, a flattened body, and a green-yellow dorsal color.

Sometimes referred to as dolphin fish, Mahi-Mahis are fast swimmers with the capacity to reach speeds of around 50 miles per hour.

Distribution – Central America, West Africa, Mediterranean, Southern Asia

18. Green Humphead Parrotfish

Green Humphead Parrotfish

A large head is specific to The Green Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum). This is a species covered in large scales.

These scales don’t cover its large forehead but cover the rest of its body.

Dark green and light green or olive-green colors are mostly characteristic of The Green Humphead Parrotfish.

This species is one of the longest-living among those with a large forehead as it can live up to 40 years.

Sheltered areas in the water, next to reefs, and even along the Great Barrier Reef are the locations preferred by this species.

Distribution – Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Coral Sea

19. Asian Sheepshead Wrasse

Asian Sheepshead Wrasse

A large forehead and a large chin are specific to The Asian Sheepshead Wrasse (Semicossyphus reticulatus).

Apart from a distinct head, The Asian Sheepshead Wrasse is also known for its vivid colors. This species comes in pink, green, and gray colors.

Most notably, Asian Sheepshead Wrasse is species that can change its sexes. Born female, this species can change into males and multiply by themselves.

This process can take place around different coral reefs in The Pacific.

Distribution – Western Pacific Ocean

20. Steephead Parrotfish

Steephead Parrotfish

A type of parrotfish with a large head, Steephead Parrotfish (Chlorurus microrhinos) is a species that grows to around 30 inches.

Smaller than Asian Sheepshead Wrasse, Steephead Parrotfish are among the fish with dual-colored bodies.

The upper part is dark green while its belly and the lower part of the head are brighter green or bright blue.

A tall forehead inspires the name of the species.

While rare, a rare morph is also connected to the species.

This species has a worldwide distribution with a similar appearance throughout different oceans and areas.

Distribution – Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Oceania

21. Green Terror

Green Terror

Green Terror (Andinoacara rivulatus) is one of the most aggressive types of fish with a big forehead. These types of fish are known to have above-average aggression levels, especially in the case of males.

Gray and black coloring is specific to this fish. Orange fin edges are also seen on Green Terror fish.

Juveniles and females lack a large forehead. It’s only the adult male that shows an enlarged forehead.

This forehead has a bright orange nuance, similar to the head and face of the species.

Its body also shows different shades of orange in the form of marks and on its fins.

This species is small as even the largest Green Terror fish only grow to a size of 12 inches.

Despite its small size, Green Terror can eat any type of smaller fish or smaller animal compared to its size.

Also found in captivity, Green Terror fish is endemic to coastal rivers and streams of South America.

Distribution – Peru, Ecuador

22. Knobsnout Parrotfish

Knobsnout Parrotfish

Growing to a length of up to 35 inches, Knobsnut Parrotfish (Scarus ovifrons) is a species that has a dark blue color.

Barely visible in blue water, this fish also shows an enlarged forehead.

Found in rocky areas just off the coast, Knobsnout Parrotfish has a tall angled forehead.

Also found around coral reefs, this species further stands out with its long singular dorsal fin.

Much of its adult appearance is subject to aging and growing.

For example, young Knobsnout Parrotfish lack a large forehead or even the deep blue color of the adults.

Distribution – Northwestern Pacific, East Asia