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Scientific Classification

The anglerfish is a marine based organism that gets its name from the fishing rod like structure that protrudes out of its head. Anglerfishes are bony fishes in the order Lophiiformes. Anglerfish have heads that are extremely large in comparison to the rest of its body. They are broad, flat, and depressed, while the remainder of its body looks just like an appendage. Anglerfish can grow up to six and a half feet long and their weight can be up to 1000 ounces.[1]

Deepsea Anatomy

Most of the deep sea anglerfish have really thin bones with soft squishy skin and are always a dark color such as black or grey. People have discovered that the dark colored skin of an anglerfish does not reflect blue light. This helps the angler fish by making them almost invisible compared to other fish. Most of the deep sea anglerfish are very small in size and can grow to the size of a baby's fist. Just like almost every other fish in the deep, the anglerfish has very small eyes because in the deep it is pitch black so you don't need them too much. Unlike the shallow water anglerfish, deep sea anglerfish do not have pectoral fins. [2]


Types of male deepwater anglerfish.

When you think about how dark the ocean is where the deep dwellers live one of the questions you would probably have is how do they find mates? The answer to this question is actually very simple and you can see God's work throughout all of it. From the time the males are born, they begin searching for a mate. They only have a short time to find one before they die because they live off of their mate in a parasitic fashion. The males have extremely enlarged nostrils that are used to find their mate. Once the males find a female they bite into their side and dissolve their skin using a special enzyme. The skin is dissolved down to blood vessel level. From there the male can feed off of the nutrients in the blood from the female and when the female is ready to deposit her eggs a special hormone runs through her blood which the male recognizes and knows that he will need to release his sperm soon. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, the male releases his sperm at the same time which coats the eggs and fertilizes them.[3]


Monkfish in natural environment.

Anglerfish are usually bottom dwelling fish that live anywhere from 2m to 500m deep.[4]They are carnivores that eat mostly crustaceans and other small fish. Anglerfish attract their prey to them by using a modified spine known as the illicium (see predatory methods). The illicium lights up by using the bacteria around it to make it glow. Fish see this glowing light and swim towards it with the intention of eating it when they are suddenly swallowed alive. The reason that organisms are attracted to the light is not because it is bright, a common misconception, it is actually because the organisms think that it is food that has drifted down from the upper sea level. Food that floats down gets covered in bacteria and starts glowing. [5]

Predatory Methods


The anglerfish's predatory method is indicated by its name. The anglerfish possesses a lure, (esca), that it wiggles to attract its prey. This lure sits on a rod (called the illicium) that protrudes out of the anglerfish's head. The illicium is a modified spine that is attached to the first dorsal fin. At the tip of the illicium is the fleshy growth (the esca), which is used to bait other fish. Other predatory fish will be drawn to this lure where they will be eaten by the anglerfish instantly. Prey for the anglerfish does not need to be small in comparison to the anglerfish's size. Because of the anglerfish's amazing ability to distend its jaw and swallow fish that are up to two times its size. The anglerfish are able to digest these fish because of its flexible bones and a stomach that can be expanded to a enormous size.[6]