Frogfish are oddly shaped, stocky marine fish who use camouflage to stalk their prey and hide from predators. They live on rock or coral reefs throughout the world, and can be found in most subtropical and tropical ocean areas.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Actinopterygii
Order - Lophiiformes
Family - Antennariidae
Genera – Antennarius, Antennatus, Fowlerichthys, Histrio, Nudiantennarius, Allenichthys, Echinophryne, Histiophryne, Kuiterichthys, Lophiocharon, Phyllophryne, Porophryne, Rhycherus, Tathicarpus
Common Names – Frogfish, Anglerfish, Angler
Frogfish vary wildly in appearance, coloration and size, but they are all squat, scaleless fish with specialized fins that allow them to “crawl” along surfaces rather than swim through the water. They can range from one inch long to 15 inches long. All frogfish utilize camouflage, though the style of disguise varies wildly. Some mimic stones, sponges or coral, others try to look like sea urchins or sea weed. They typically have specialized bumps or fleshy protrusions called “spicules” to aid in their concealment. Many species are also adept at changing color. This helps them both to hunt their food, and to hide from those who would make a meal out of them.
Male frogfish are significantly larger than females, and after mating they must vacate the area quickly to avoid being consumed by their partner. After a period of courtship, the female releases her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The young frogfish spend the first couple of months of their lives living as plankton before maturing into fully formed adult fish.
Frogfish often move very slowly and often stay very still for long periods of time, waiting patiently for prey to come near. Many species have fleshy lures protruding from their heads that are actually modified dorsal fins, and when a fish or crustacean draws near, the frogfish will flick the lure back and forth to draw the prey within range of its mouth. When it gets close enough, the frogfish opens its mouth extremely wide and sucks in its prey like a vacuum.
They can expand their mouths and stomachs to swallow organisms as big as twice their size. They will even eat other frogfish!
There is very little fossil evidence of frogfish. One ancient frogfish fossil from Algeria was discovered in 2005, and dates back to the Miocene Era.
Frogfish are often kept in private and commercial aquaria, and in the trade are known commonly as “anglers”.
Frogfish are widespread and there are dozens of species throughout the world. Data is not available on all species, but the well-known sargassum Fish (Histrio histrio) and the longlure frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus) are considered species of Least Concern.