800px-Cryptopsaras couesii (triplewart seadevil)

Female triplewart seadevil, an anglerfish, with male attached near vent (arrow)

The Angler Fish ( Lophius piscatorius) is one of a family of fishes that have developed the first ray of the leading dorsal fin to a long "fishing rod" or Illicium with a fleshy flap at the end forming a "bait" or Esca . The esca is dangled in front of the mouth, and attracts small fish which thus become the angler's prey.

Identification: Massive head, with grotesque features. Large crescent shaped mouth, with numerous sharp pointed teeth. Flattened white belly region, with the top half of the body taking a broad expansive posture. Colour varies from greenish brown to blackish grey, with speckled and variegated markings. The head and body have an indistinct outline caused by the presence of numerous small flaps of skin. The gill slits are behind and lower than the base of the pectoral fins. Running along the mid-line of the head and anterior portion of the body, are a series of separate rays. Those above the pectoral fins give rise to the first dorsal fin. The remaining 3 on the head section form long spines, the foremost of which normally has a fleshy tip (esca) that the fish uses as a lure to entice it's prey. The second dorsal fin is composed of 11 to 12 fleshy membrane bound rays

Breeding: Spring to early summer. The egg mass, forms large gelatinous sheets, that maybe 9m by 3m in size, floating near the surface. Juveniles are planktonic, with noticeably elongated fin rays.

Habitat: This tends to be a bottom dwelling fish found in a range of water depths, from 2 to 500m. Tending to favor sandy gravel bottoms.

Food: Wide variety of small and juvenile fish, including those of dogfish, skate, cod, haddock, whiting, sprats, sandeels, flat fish, etc.....

Range: Found all around the coastline of the UK, including the Atlantic, English Channel, and North Sea

NB The rear body and tail of angler fish are often sold by fishmongers as "monkfish" This should not be confused with the true Monkfish or Angel Shark Squatina squatina

Dave Park 17:47, September 21, 2010 (UTC)


The Aquarium Project

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