The Frogfish: Weird-Looking and Wonderful - Ocean Conservancy (2024)

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  • The Frogfish: Weird-Looking and Wonderful - Ocean Conservancy (7)

    August 5, 2019

    2 Minute Read

    Meet the master of disguise who “walks” on the ocean floor

    Written By

    Erin Spencer

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    If you’re looking to find one of the strangest fish in the sea, look no further than the frogfish.

    Their leg-like fins, camouflaged skin and perpetual “oh no!” expressions make them an unusual sight on the sea floor. But, if you’re lucky enough to spot one in person, you’ll see why they’re a favorite of scuba divers and underwater photographers alike. Read on to see what makes the frogfish so weird—and wonderful.

    So, what are frogfish?

    Frogfish are any members of the family Antennariidae, a type of anglerfish that includes about 50 species. They’re found in shallow tropical and subtropical ocean waters around the world and are fairly small—the biggest species only grows to 12 in (30 cm) long. They have modified pectoral fins that resemble legs, which allow them to “walk” along the ocean floor looking for prey.

    The Frogfish: Weird-Looking and Wonderful - Ocean Conservancy (9)

    Frogfish are masters of disguise—they use various type of camouflage to hide from predators and sneak up on prey. Some species resemble the colors and textures of sponges. The Commerson’s frogfish (Antennarius commerson), for example, can change its color to blend in with pink, red, yellow or brown sponges and rocks, and even has unevenly-textured skin that matches the rough surface of the reef. The psychedelic frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica) has yellow, brown and white stripes that look just like stony corals. And the hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) has long, waving appendages that can resemble algae or even a spiny urchin.

    This camouflage is a type of aggressive mimicry—a strategy of resembling something else to gain an advantage over your prey. This means potential prey, like small fish or crustaceans, can swim by and never see the well-hidden frogfish, allowing them to attack the prey from a close range. This technique is also seen in animals such as the alligator snapping turtle, who resembles dead wood, and the antmimicking spider, who resembles, well…an ant.

    Frogfish have another trick up their sleeves (fins?) for tricking prey into becoming dinner. Frogfish have a dangling lure, which is a type of modified fin called an illicium, that acts like a fishing rod for prey. It can resemble a worm, shrimp or even small fish that looks very tasty to other fish and crustaceans! Once the prey has drawn close enough to realize the “worm” isn’t really a “worm”…it’s probably too late. The strategy is also used by the frogfish’s cousin, the deep-sea anglerfish (of Finding Nemo fame).

    Still not convinced that frogfish are some of the coolest fish out there? Check out this site, which has a complete list of frogfish (with photos!) and where to find them. Chances are, there are frogfish that live in a tropical ocean near you. Just make sure you look closely—that camouflage works on prey and divers alike!

    The Frogfish: Weird-Looking and Wonderful - Ocean Conservancy (10)

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    The Frogfish: Weird-Looking and Wonderful - Ocean Conservancy (2024)

    FAQs

    What is the weird frog fish thing? ›

    Frogfish have a dangling lure, which is a type of modified fin called an illicium, that acts like a fishing rod for prey. It can resemble a worm, shrimp or even small fish that looks very tasty to other fish and crustaceans!

    Show Me More
    Can frogfish change color? ›

    Frogfishes can change color to match their environment but unlike cuttlefish and octopus it's not an instant change, it can take days and even weeks for a color change to occur.

    Get More Info Here
    Is the hairy frog fish real? ›

    Found mostly in warm waters around the world, the hairy frogfish can also change its color to blend in with its surroundings. These animals may be excellent at hiding in plain sight. However they do something that really makes them stand out from a lot of other sea creatures.

    Get More Info
    What is a fish swishes through the water just above a cluster of coral on the seafloor? ›

    A fish swishes through the water just above a cluster of coral on the seafloor. Suddenly a hairy-looking, bloblike creature emerges from the coral, snags the fish in its mouth, and devours the snack. The bizarre being isn't a mythical sea monster — it's a hairy frogfish.

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    Are frogfish poisonous to humans? ›

    Are Frogfish Poisonous? The majority of frogfish, such as the hairy frogfish, are not poisonous. There are a few species of toadfish that are poisonous, in the family Batrachoididae - but those are not frogfish. Frogfish are not known to taste well, you should not eat them.

    Learn More Now
    Is frog fish rare? ›

    The Painted frogfish is a rare and beautiful species found in many areas of the Indo-Pacific, from South Africa to Madagascar, through the Red Sea, the Maldives, Indonesia, Australia, Palau, the Philippines...

    Read More
    Can frogfish swim? ›

    Frogfish have no swim bladder, so they can't swim. They walk or hop awkwardly along the seabed. But when they need to move quickly they use jet propulsion by sucking in water and forcing it through their back facing gills.

    Find Out More
    How long do frogfish live for? ›

    Mature frogfish range in size from 5cm to 50cm depending on the species. Frogfish can swallow prey up to twice their own size. Females will produce between 40,000 – 180,000 eggs at one time during mating. The life expectancy of some species exceeds 20 years!

    Learn More
    Are horror frogs real? ›

    The hairy frog (Trichobatrachus robustus) also known as the horror frog or Wolverine frog, is a Central African species of frog in the family Arthroleptidae. It is typically considered monotypic within the genus Trichobatrachus, but based on its genetics, it should be included in Astylosternus instead.

    See More
    Is Glass frog real? ›

    Reticulated glass frogs can be found in the rain forests of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. These animals, which are active at night, inhabit vegetation along streams. Males can get pretty territorial, making squeaking noises to warn trespassing frogs to stay away from their leafy hangout spots.

    See More

    Can frogfish walk? ›

    Frogfish can swim, but they're slow and clumsy. They can get around much better by walking—or even crawling or hopping— using their fins as feet.

    Get More Info
    What is a ring of coral that surrounds a body of water called? ›

    An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets. An atoll surrounds a body of water called a lagoon. Sometimes, atolls and lagoons protect a central island.

    Learn More Now
    What fish have spikes? ›

    Scorpionfish, lionfish, stonefish - these and around 250 other fish are highly venomous and have nasty spikes. Their dorsal fins have been turned into poison stings and they also have spines towards the ends of their bodies.

    Get More Info
    What is the death of a coral reef where it turns white often referred to as? ›

    Warmer water temperatures can result in coral bleaching. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching.

    Learn More Now
    What is the name of the fish that looks like a frog? ›

    Frogfishes are found in almost all tropical and subtropical oceans and seas around the world, the primary exception being the Mediterranean Sea. Frogfishes are small, short and stocky, and sometimes covered in spinules and other appendages to aid in camouflage.

    Read The Full Story
    What is the name of the frog fish? ›

    Frogfishes, members of the group known as anglerfishes, are usually provided with a “fishing pole,” tipped with a fleshy “bait,” located on the snout and derived from the first dorsal fin spine.

    Read On
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