New Mystery Fish Photos

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 21st, 2007

Here’s a new mystery fish photograph just received. Anyone have any ideas what it is?

Although it is not a cryptid, it certainly is an unknown until identified. These photos are making the Internet rounds as evidence of a new world record piranha, an extremely dubious identification.

New Mystery Fish Photo

New Mystery Fish Photo

New Mystery Fish Photo

New Mystery Fish Photo

Meanwhile, the Cryptomundo mystery fish photograph on an antique postcard (first noted at Cryptomundo on November 29, 2005, contributed by phyllis) has still not been solved.

Mystery Fish Enhanced

(Click on image to see full size version the Mystery Fish Photo postcard, enhanced by shockbeton)

Mystery Fish Enhancement

Mystery Fish head, click to enlarge.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

40 Responses to “New Mystery Fish Photos”

  1. Spoon Nose responds:

    It’s a goliath, AKA a tiger fish. Native to the Congo River. Read Somewhere Down the Crazy River, by Jeremy Wade.

  2. Cryptonut responds:

    Those teeth are wicked! It looks like a Zambezi River tigerfish..see here for more information.

  3. Alligator responds:

    Ditto – it is a tigerfish. You can find some fishing guides in Africa that specialize in pursuing this species.

    Something doesn’t look right about the [bottom pictured old] ‘mystery fish’. It looks like it is two dimensional as there is no depth or texture to it. The eye and mouth especially appear to be drawn in. If it looks like anything, it looks more like a mudpuppy or congo eel more than a fish. “Antique postcard” featuring unusual animals always smacks of a practical joke.

  4. Scrabbydoo responds:

    I agree it’s a Tiger Fish. Berween the Tiger Fish and the Candiru Fish I’m not EVER swimming in the Congo River!! ACK!!

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    For more on the tigerfish (Hydrocynus forskalii), and the largest species, the Goliath Tiger (Hydrocynus goliath) of the Congo system, please see here.

  6. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    This reminds me of the Strange Fish Identification website.

  7. cmgrace responds:

    That fish is wicked! As for the mystery photo, I can’t make out any gills. The head has a very blunt snout like a tiger shark, but the mouth seems to curve up towards the top of the head. Also it looks like the body is much wider than the head and there is no clear place where the body attaches to the bottom of the head. Does the postcard say anything about where this place is? Something like “Hi from Tropical Beach where we caught this huge fish!”

  8. DARHOP responds:

    Doesn’t even come close to looking like a Piranha. I agree, it’s a tigerfish.

  9. DARHOP responds:

    Imagine that thing clamping down on your leg though…OUCH!

  10. shumway10973 responds:

    I’ve seen a “pet” veggie piranha bigger than that.

  11. Bob Michaels responds:

    Loren, do you know the identity of the mystery fish?
    If you do give us some leads.

  12. DARHOP responds:

    shumway10973 responds:
    August 21st, 2007 at 12:43 pm
    I’ve seen a “pet” veggie piranha bigger than that.

    I have also seen pet Piranha bigger than that. A Pacu. But they look nothing like the fish in these photos. Piranha are more stubby not long like these fish.

  13. sschaper responds:

    So much for my naming it a Death Carp. . . .


  14. twas brillig responds:

    A verrryyy well known fish, a Tiger Characin or Tiger Fish as mentioned above. There’s a book almost certainly out of print called FISHES OF LAKE KARIBA, AFRICA BY EUGENE K. BALON from the 60s to early 70s in which this fish is described. Thus, Lake Kariba is another local in which these fish also endemic.

    Like the Piranha, quite edible.

    That’s the largest specimen I’ve ever seen photographed! Probably came from a sports fisherman as they put up one hell of a fight. What a shame, I’d rather see it alive.

  15. Loren Coleman responds:

    Know the id of the antique postcard’s “mystery fish”?

    I don’t know what it is any more than anyone else here.

  16. Doktor Kozmik responds:

    Definitely a African tigerfish. Yes, people keep them as pets, but some people also keep cobras, gaboon vipers, etc. The fish is not venomous, BTW. As regards the second fish, looks something like a big Gar, but the head is all wrong.

  17. Peter Von Berg responds:

    The head of the fish on the old postcard looks like that of a giant snake.I’m not saying it IS, mind you, it could well have been faked – after all the body is that of a fish- but that’s what it LOOKS like.

  18. TheBlessedBlogger responds:

    I got the tiger fish picks as well. Oh how I loooove junk mail. As for the mystery fish, that’s a tough one. We can’t see the gills, teeth, fins or tail and it doesn’t have any distinctive markings. Reminds me of the frilled shark or antarctic sleeper shark but I’m not a sea life expert. Any info to go with the postcard?

  19. Bob Michaels responds:

    A Pacu is not a Piranha, similar shape, so are the many Meytinnus species from the Amazon.

  20. flame821 responds:

    that mystery fish reminds me of the frilled shark that surfaced in Japan earlier this year. Cut off the gills and stretch it out and it would appear to be this animal.

    wanders off to find the video of the frilled shark to verify

  21. twblack responds:

    It is the Son of Jaws.

  22. chirundu responds:

    Hi everyone, just to confirm that the top 4 images are the Tiger Fish, (Hydrocynus forskalii), and the largest species, the Goliath Tiger (Hydrocynus goliath) of the Congo system. The photos that was pointed out earlier on the safari guide website Here were actually caught by myself and a few family members on a holiday in Zimbabwe. They are an excellent game fish to catch and it is said the best fresh water fish to catch in the world. BTW you also need steel wire on the end of your line to prevent those teeth from cutting your line!

  23. Terry W. Colvin responds:

    The postcard mystery fish looks concocted. Bored GIs in a remote outpost like Wake Island in the 1920s or 1930s cut the head off a large fish and attached a painted piece of bleached wood. I say these years because the belt webbing looks similar to that period.

  24. stuffer responds:

    Looks similar in body style to a fish caught in Amazon with piranha . Fish I am thinking of has 4 longer front teath, When over grown may look like this nut I think others have ID ed it better.

  25. RandyinCT responds:

    Awesome! It isn’t even a piranha! Well done!!!

  26. jules responds:

    As for mystery fish – I think you would have better luck indentifying the burlap sack that it is wrapped in.

    That tiger looks like something out of a horror movie!

  27. Maohk Kiaayo responds:

    This is definately not an unknown animal. I have seen people on TV fishing for them in Africa. Its a specie of Tigerfish. Chirundu is correct you do need a steel leader. Hahahaha.

  28. thundergod001 responds:

    The old postcard. The first question I asked was, why wasn’t the giant animal the feature of the picture. The second was when was this taken. First point of interest…the hat. The hat is similar to us marines Campaign uniforms dated back to the 40’s. The second point of interest is this. The man with the hat has a button (or possibly a visual distortion) on his t-shirt that looks like a political button. The election years for the 40’s were 40, 44, 48, and so he could be from any one of those years. The location is a beach with a small pier in the distance and palm trees. If any one can identify them that would be helpful in narrowing this down. The men are wearing military style boots, but they could just be work boots. In noting of possible military, none of the clothing matches. The belts of the two men in the right look similar but the belt loops seem different as do the T-shirts. My initial conclusion from the above is that the Fish/snake is actually a movie prop, and the three men are military off duty or people associated with the movie out of costume after having done some hefty work. Probably taken in the late 40’s during the monster movie hey day. Some movie buff might be able to identify the snake. (I think it’s a snake as it has no fins.) If the location could be identified, the movie could probably be found.

  29. herpjitsu responds:

    The second set of photos are interesting. It reminds me of a Ichthyo-stegid Stegocephalian. The head is very reminiscent of some ancient species of amphibian and fish. It would be very exciting if something like this was found to be living today.

    To the people who say they have seen a pacu or piranha that is larger that the tigerfish in the above photos: You are soooo full of it! You have not seen a pirhana or pacu that was bigger than that fish. You are either lying or mistaken! I challenge anyone to show pictures that of a pirhana or pacu that is larger than the above pictured tigerfish. I will publicly eat my hat and post the pictures on youtube for all to enjoy if somebody show me such a large piranha or pacu.

  30. MrInspector responds:

    You guys are way off. That’s obviously one of Dr. Evil’s mutant sea-bass, and those guys in the quasi-military garb were trying to install a laser beam in that shark’s head, unsuccessfully I gather.

  31. tapper responds:

    The “fish” in the postcard is doctored. The pic reminded me of some old dino pics and books that I had in grade school. The head is that of a prehistoric amphibian. Perhaps a Greerpeton, Metoposaurus or Paracyclotosaurus.

  32. todfoulk responds:

    African Tiger Fish, Hydrocynus vittatus or one of the 5 Hydrolycus species. One can you-tube fisherman hauling these bad boys in. And canduru are South American Scrappydoo, feel free to jump in the Zambezi anytime. Myth busted.

    Look up the etymology of Hydrolycus. Apt no?

  33. MattBille responds:

    “Fish and visitors stink after three days” – Ben Franklin. The postcard mystery fish has been around way over three days, and I’m sure I speak for many when I say I did some research, took my best shot, and have now retired from the business 🙂

  34. kj197728 responds:

    It is a tiger fish. They are in the Congo river system. This is not a mystery fish. The old postcard is hard to tell what that is.

  35. chirundu responds:

    ” Scrabbydoo responds: August 21st, 2007 at 1:47 am

    I agree it’s a Tiger Fish. Berween the Tiger Fish and the Candiru Fish I’m not EVER swimming in the Congo River!! ”

    A Tigerfish would definitely not be on your list of worries if you were to swim in the Congo or Zambezi rivers as I have never heard of them attacking man, what you would be worried about is the crocodiles! Now there is a real scary “fish”! 🙂

    I have been fishing in the Zambezi many times, I grew up only 3 hours away from it and have caught many tigerfish, which are a great sport fish to catch, not that great to eat as they are very bony. If there is anyone interested you can actually go on a fishing safari in Zimbabwe or Zambia to catch tiger and other species of fish in the Zambezi.

  36. tomvason responds:

    I would love to know where this picture on the postacard was taken. The man on the left looks exactly like my late father. My father was stationed in the pacific during WWII. If it is him, we have no copy of this pic and I never remember him saying anything about it. Very interesting.

  37. omdata responds:

    The postcard fish looks a lot like a finned shark. Was the photo taken in/around Japan/China maybe? Seems more likely to be a prop, though.

  38. mohfish responds:

    I’m late to the game, having just found the site.

    Mystery fish number one is no fish. The blunt jaw and hooded eyes point to a reptilian. I would guess that the most likely location is the Phillipines, possibly Indonesia.

    Fish number two is likely a tigerfish, but, quite posibly, a nile perch, which is related to the tigerfish, and gets quite heft.

  39. pcs800 responds:

    Did anyone notice the shadow of a person at the right of the prop photo? The light casting this shadow can’t be the sun, the shadow is too precise as if cast from a smaller, closer stage light. You can also see the light hitting the wall near the shadow.

    As for the snakefish, I copied the photo and analyzed it. If you bring it up to pixel level, you can see defined “stripes” where they had created matching markings on the head and the body, and a defined seam between the two.

    Even without doing all that, at first glance you can see it is a movie set just by the clothing, props and lights.

  40. C009 responds:

    I’d say the mystery fish in the postcard is some kind of sturgeon. As the quality of the image is poor and you can’t see the whole carcass well enough to say (as it’s in a funny angle on the ground), this is my best guess… 😉 My second guess is that it’s a shark of some kind.

    If you google “sturgeon” (images), you will come across quite many pics, even some old ones, which resemble this one.

    E.g. and

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