Frogfish: There are 47 different species of frogfish ...

A giant frogfish sits motionless on a sponge

The family of the angler fish or antennariida is divided into 12 genera and counts 47 different species. The size of the frogfish usually ranges between 5 and 40 cm. But there are also extremely small species found that are even no larger than a few millimeters. These masters of camouflage exist in different colours. Sometimes they take perfectly the same colour of the sponge on which they are hiding. Moreover, due to their huge colour variety (black, red, orange, yellow, brown, white, purple, green) they are very difficult to identify. And specimens of the same species can look totally different.

I still do not know whether I have to describe them as beautiful or ugly, because angler fish are often equipped with spots, stripes, warts, skin folds and/or filaments. Actually angler fish mimics substrates such as algae-covered pieces of coral, stones, seaweed, algae or even animals such as sea squirts, corals and sponges. Its pectoral fins look like feet with little toes. The dorsal fins are rather protrusions whose first dorsal fin has been transformed into a motile rod tipped with a fleshy bait-like appendage. This immediately explains why these fish are called angler fish, also and perhaps even better known as the frogfish.

Reuzen hengelaarsvis Giant frogfish
Wratten hengelaarsvis Warty frogfish
Gestreepte hengelaarsvis Hairy frogfish
To attract its prey he moves his rod and bait in front of its head. With this the frogfish mimics food such as worms, shrimps or even small fish. The prey approaches the 'bait' but is then actually rapidly sucked itself and swallowed by the patient angler fish. The frogfish is even equipped with the fastest "yawn and suck" motion of all species: it lasts just six milliseconds.

The hairy frogfish is probably on the wish list of every diver. Unlike the other fish of his family, the hairy frogfish likes to walk around.

Normally, angler fish or frogfish are very hard to find because they are usually sitting motionless on sponges or coral. Frogfish rarely swim. To pass short distances, the frogfish starts walking or galloping.

The latest discovery only dates from 2008: the Ambon frogfish. The king in the frogfish family is the sargassum frogfish (Histrio histrio). This species only lives in sargassum seaweed and is the only species in its genus. Often these fish are observed at the surface in a piece of drifting sargassum seaweed.

The challenge of many underwater photographer is to capture the yawn of the frogfish, a behaviour from the angler fish for which the reason is still unknown. Although, this time consuming phenomenon can be observed more than occasionally.

Species of frogfish :

Sargassum frogfish, geslacht Histrio :