A viperfish is a deepwater fish in the genus Chauliodus, with long, needle-like teeth and hinged lower jaws. They grow to lengths of 30 to 60 cm (12 – 24 inches). Viperfish stay near lower depths (250–5,000 feet) in the daytime and shallow at night. Viperfish mainly stay in tropical and temperate waters. It is one of the fiercest predators in the very deep part of the sea and is believed to attack its prey by luring the victim close to itself with a light producing organ. This organ is called a photophore and is located on the end of its dorsal spine. It flashes this natural light on and off while at the same time moving the dorsal spine around like a fishing rod and hanging completely still in the water, and also uses the voluntary natural light producing organ to communicate to its potential mates and rivals.
Viperfish vary in color between green, silver and black. It uses its fang-like teeth to immobilize its prey, and would not be able to close its mouth because of their length if it were not able to curve them behind its head. The first vertebra behind the head of the viperfish is known to absorb the shock of its attacks, which are mainly targeted against dragonfish and other small creatures. They are able to undergo long periods with scarce or no food.
Viperfish are believed to live up to 30 years to 40 years but in captivity rarely live more than a few hours. Some species of dolphins and sharks are known to prey upon viperfish. Scientists believe that a viperfish can swim at a speed of two body lengths per second but that is not yet the official speed.