Fun Whalefish Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Nov 19, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
To learn more about this species, read these whalefish facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

The Whalefish, also known as Cetomimiformes, is distributed in three different families Barbouriidae, Cetomimidae, Rondeletiidae. Some whalefish include the redmouth whalefish and the velvet whalefish.

These are deep-sea fish and the whalefish habitat consists of temperate and tropical parts of the ocean and thus, can be found in such parts of the world's oceans. This fish is not well-studied and thus, not a lot of information is available about the reproduction of this fish.

As the name suggests, whalefishes look like whales but the whalefish size is much smaller. They are known to have gaping mouths and are known to have no scales or fins.

They are known to have a deep lateral line on their bodies that helps them to detect vibrations in the ocean. This fish is also known to have no swim bladder. Males do not have mouths that open, while it is different in a female as a female can consume through their mouth.

The whalefish diet consists of marine crustaceans and plankton. Adults of the Cetomimidae family are known as flabby whalefish and juveniles as tapetails because of the tail.

Earlier it was believed that the flabby whalefish is another species. One relative is the velvet whalefish.

Continue reading for more fascinating facts about this deep-sea fish and if you are interested, you can visit our other articles about the  rainbow trout and gar.

Whalefish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a whalefish?

The whalefish is a deep-sea fish.

What class of animal does a whalefish belong to?

Whalefish belong to the class of Actinopterygii or ray-finned fishes and are known to be deep-sea fishes.

How many whalefishes are there in the world?

There has been no specific number of the global population of whalefish recorded. This fish is not well studied so it is difficult to find an exact number.

Where does a whalefish live?

This family of deep-sea whalefish is spread throughout the temperate and tropical parts or regions of the world's oceans.

What is a whalefish's habitat?

The habitat of this whalefish is known to be temperate and tropical parts of the oceans and are deep-sea fishes.

Who do whalefish live with?

Not much is known about whether these fish live alone or in groups.

How long does a whalefish live?

The exact lifespan of whalefishes is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

Not much information is available about the reproduction of this species in science, but it is known that a young one or juvenile is called a tapetail, whereas the adult is known as flabby whalefish. The male and female roles are unclear.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the whalefish species is Not Evaluated.  

Whalefish Fun Facts

What do whalefishes look like?

This fish is known to have a body just like a whale and tends to have a gaping mouth. They are known to have no scales or fins.

Also, they have a deep lateral line on their bodies that helps them to detect vibrations in the ocean. This fish is also known to have no swim bladder.

The young one or juvenile or the tapetails is called so because of their streamer-like and long tail. Not much is known about the difference in physical appearance between the males and females of this family or fish.

The size and mouths of this fish are some of its recognizable features.

* Please note that this is an image of a squirrelfish, not a whalefish. If you have an image of a whalefish, please let us know at

How cute are they?

This species is not considered cute by people.

How do they communicate?

Not enough information is available about the communication of this species, but it is believed that just like other fish species, these fish also use chemical and tactile cues to communicate.

How big is a whalefish?

The males of this fish family are known to grow up to 1.4 in (3.5 cm), whereas a female can be 10 times larger than the male. The largest species was around 15.5 in (40 cm).

These fish are tiny as they are smaller than most other fish species like the blobfish and the toadfish in length. This fish is known to be quite tiny compared to a whale!

How fast can a whalefish swim?

The exact speed of this fish species is unknown.

How much does a whalefish weigh?

The weight of this fish species is unknown.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific names are given for the males and females of the whalefish species.

What would you call a baby whalefish?

There is no particular name for a baby of this species but in general, they are referred to as a young one or juvenile.

What do they eat?

The feeding of this fish mainly consists of plankton and marine crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

Not enough is known about this family of fish to say whether it is dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

Not much information is available about these fish as pets. However, they are deep sea fishes and are found in deep water where it is completely dark, so it is unlikely that humans could replicate their environment at home.

Did you know...

Adults of the Cetomimidae family are referred to as flabby whalefish and the juveniles as tapetails and were initially thought to be of different families.

It is believed that around nine females of this whalefish would measure an equal length to the smallest whale.

Cetomimidae is known to be the most diverse in the family of whalefish.

One unique feature about this fish is that the male whalefish cannot open its mouth or jaws and thus, it cannot consume food in its adult phase.

To take in nutrients continuously through a food source, the males of this fish retain the shells of the prey captured in their juvenile phase and continue to feed on those shells as a food and nutrients source for their life.

Whereas it is interesting to note that the females of this fish species can feed on food. They have a stomach that is expandable and large mouths or jaws.

They are able to consume and digest large prey which can be too large to consume sometimes. They are also known to hold their prey until the food is able to digest itself.

It is unknown if this fish is Endangered or not as this fish has not been studied extensively and thus, its status is unknown.

How have whalefish adapted to their environment?

This fish is known to be found in extremely deep water where it is black. It has been recorded that these fish have developed an advanced sensory system that helps them detect slight vibrations in the ocean and thus, figure out objects in their surroundings and helps them avoid or escape from potential predator attacks.

Why is it called a whalefish?

These fish are called whalefish because they look similar to whales, but are much smaller than a whale and thus, are referred to as whalefish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our monkfish facts and green sunfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable whalefish coloring pages.

* Please note that this is an image of a squirrelfish, not a whalefish. If you have an image of a whalefish, please let us know at

Whalefish Facts

What Did They Prey On?


What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?


Where Do They Live?


How Long Were They?

1.4-15.5 in (3.5-40 cm)

How Tall Were They?





Gyrinomimus, Cetomimus, Rhamphocetichthys


Barbouriidae, Cetomimidae, Rondeletiidae

Scientific Name


What Do They Look Like?

Tropical and temperate latitudes

Skin Type

Slimy and wet scales

What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Not Evaluated
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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

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Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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