Hairy Frogfish: Appearance, History, Mating & More About It 

Antennarius striatus, often known as the Hairy Frogfish, is a carnivorous fish that resembles a blob and lives in the warm waters between Africa and Antarctica. The large spines that cover the Hairy Frogfish’s body give it the name because they resemble hair.

The carnivorous Hairy Frogfish will consume other fish, either by stalking them or by luring them with an unusually long spine that it can move. It lives in the coral reefs, rocky outcrops, and sandy environment of the deep sea in warm waters all across the planet. It can be recognized by its distinctive large fins and body coated in spines that resemble hair strands.

Hairy Frogfish Appearance

The hairy frogfish is a little fish that is just over an ounce in weight and around eight inches long. They have huge jaws that can open to consume prey as big as themselves and round, smooth bodies covered in uneven spines. Typically, yellow, brown, and orange are their three most prominent colors. However, depending on their surroundings, their coloration changes drastically. After a few weeks in a new environment, they are capable of changing their color and pattern. Their markings resemble parallel stripes or lengthy patches.

The hairy frogfish, like other anglerfishes, has a dorsal spine known as an illicium that tips forward like a fishing rod. The tip of the spine has a lure that resembles a worm wriggling on a hook. Additionally, frogfish have angled pectoral fins that help them maintain stability while waiting to attack their victim. They can “walk” along the ocean floor with the aid of their unique fins. They breathe in water through their mouths and release it through gills behind their pectoral fins, giving them jet-like propulsion, to travel fast across their habitat. 

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Distribution, Population, and Habitat

In the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Seas, this species can be found in tropical and subtropical waters. The Arctic and the Mediterranean Sea are the two waters they avoid. Additionally, they don’t exist in the eastern Pacific. They can be found on sand, rocks, and debris, and they mostly live in rocky locations and coral reefs. Hairy frogfish are found close to the surface and at depths of more than 600 feet. Their average depth, though, is 130 feet. To blend in with their surroundings, they frequently have cryptic coloring that makes them resemble coral and sponges.

Evolution and History

There aren’t many fossilized frogfish remains out there. However, some species from the frogfish family first appeared in 2005 and 2006, placing the earliest relatives of these species between five and 56 million years ago. The hairy frogfish has undergone a number of changes to adapt to its surroundings, including angled fins for walking and a dorsal fin used as a lure for prey.

Predators and Prey

Hairy frogfish are rabid carnivores who will devour anything that comes within reach of their teeth. Small fish make up the majority of their diet, but they are capable of consuming prey of their own size, such as other frogfish. They use a chemical attractant at night to make their peculiar dorsal fin visible to potential prey as a lure. Additionally, they have one of the fastest animal feeding techniques. They don’t have teeth, therefore they eat by sucking in food. The frogfish waits till its prey is sufficiently close before opening its mouth wide and ingesting organisms in less than 6,000 ths of a second.

There are few natural predators of the hairy frogfish. But infrequently, marine predators like lizardfish and scorpionfish feed on frogfish. This species is a master of its surroundings, engaging in Batesian mimicry, in which it imitates potentially harmful species, such as sea anemones. They inflate their bodies to stop predators from consuming them if that doesn’t work. That’s thinking outside the box right there!

Reproduction and Lifespan

Before mating, females can lay up to 180,000 eggs, and males will push them when it’s time to start. Both sexes swim to the surface, where the female releases her eggs in an epipelagic egg raft, a ribbon-like mass of mucus. The eggs are fertilized by the male, and after many days of floating, they hatch. The embryos are prepared to hatch once they reach the bottom. Hairy frogfish have a 20-year lifespan. But nobody knows how long they live on average.

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