Divers can’t help not loving Frogfish. Even though some might call them ugly, weird or grumpy they come in so many colors and variations they are just fascinating creatures.
The Frogfish is a master of disguise and full of surprises. From their adaptive colors, shapes and elasticity, to their hunting equipment and mobility, these ambush predators have over 45 species ranging from 1/8 inch to 22 inches in size. They’re often seen perched or hanging from corals and sponges at various angles while they wait for prey.
It’s all in a name! Did you know that frogfishes take their name from the fact that they really do bear similarities to frogs! They have unique pectoral fins which have an “elbow-like” bend at the front and then just behind these they have smaller pelvic fins which resemble legs. This is common across all frogfish species.
Due to its amazing camouflage and complex luring behaviors, the frogfish is considered one of the most complicated, efficient examples of aggressive mimicry.
Frogfish, a type of anglerfish, have a textured exterior that aids in their camouflage. While they do not have scales, their amazing ability to camouflage themselves serves as protection from predators. Frogfish vary in color and often have unique spines or bumps that change with their surroundings.
Unlike many animals that use camouflage as a defense from predators, frogfish mostly use their abilities to attract prey. Frogfish have a modified dorsal fin that has a retractable lure resembling a shrimp, which is used to attract their prey. If their lure is eaten or damaged it can be regenerated.
Are frogfishs, one of your favorite species to see underwater? Do you know your Hairy from your Painted? If like us, you find these awesome critters intriguing and want to learn more, here are few fascinating facts about frogfish which will have you hopping!
Cool Facts about the frogfish:
- There are about 46 known species of frogfish worldwide in tropical and temperate seas.
- Unlike many animals that use camouflage as a defense from predators, frogfish mostly use these abilities to attract prey.
- Besides using the lure many frogfish can catch prey by just waiting and when an animal gets too close it will be sucked in. Some also “hunt” by slowly approaching their prey.
- Mature frogfishes vary in size according to species and range from just 5cm up to a huge 50cm Frogfish can reach 1/8 to 22 inches (for giant frogfish in length, depending on the species.). Many frogfish can change their color.
- Frogfish have a modified dorsal fin that has a retractable lure resembling a shrimp, used to attract their prey. If their lure is eaten or damaged it can be regenerated. These lures have evolved into different shapes (twig, worm, feathers…) in order to bait their favorite meal.
- Frogfish are carnivores and has the fastest-known prey engulfment of any vertebrate. The suction of the prey is the fastest amongst all fish. Frogfish do not have teeth and therefore have to swallow their prey whole. They eat fish, crustaceans and even other frogfish.
- A frogfish’s mouth can expand to 12 times its resting size. This allows it to catch all sorts of prey.
- Frogfish can swallow prey up to twice their own size.
- Without any teeth, the Frogfish has powerful suction to engulf their meal whole to be processed by their digestive system.
- The FrogFish is scaleless. Their “skin” can range from smooth to bumpy, “hairy”, resembling algae, sponges and corals, with plenty of hiding spots for eggs.
- The frogfish lacks a swim bladder. This structure is found in most swimming fishes; it maintains their buoyancy in a similar manner to a diver’s BC. Therefore must “walk” on the sea bottom.
- The lure can re-grow if it is damaged or destroyed. Smaller fish are attracted to the lure as it looks like a worm or a shrimp. When the fish is close enough the frogfish opens the mouth rapidly which creates suction and the prey is drawn into the mouth.
- Masters of camouflage – Frogfish have the ability to “mimic” their surroundings in both form and color which makes them masters of camouflage. A 22inch giant frogfish can be very difficult to spot, despite its size, when it is the same colour and has the same appearance as the sponge corals which are growing beside it. 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.
Hairy Frogfish swallows fishes taller than himself. Video by Jose Lachat.
BEST PLACES TO FIND FROGFISH: These bottom-dwellers are usually found in tropic and sub-tropic regions which, fortunately, are home to the worlds best dives sites and top dive destinations. Some Frogfish live in shallow waters up to 75 meters in depth, while deep sea cousins live in 300 to 4000 meters. Look closely on reefs or on sponges as Frogfish will be the same or a similar color. Also look on sandy bottoms near orange or yellow sponges as well as well as underwater pilings, mooring weights, rope from discarded debris, chains and sea grass.
Since frogfish are not migratory, you can go back and visit them over a period of months and sometimes even years.
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