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Longlure Anglerfish
(Antennarius multiocellatus)

longlure anglerfish

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Longlure anglerfish or Antennarius multiocellatus are members of the family Antennariidae. This fish is native to the western Atlantic Ocean. These bottom dwellers inhibit shallow coral reef formations from the coastlines of Florida to northern South America.

This is an extremely interesting but one butt ugly fish. It has evolved into one of the most specialized predators trolling the modern oceans. Even its somewhat grotesque appearance is an adaptation which serves to increase it predatory efficiency. This species is the quintessential essence of survival of the fittest. It is Darwinism at it finest.   

The name longlure anglerfish is a direct connotation to its means of predation. Anglerfish have highly specialized appendages that can be extended from the modified dorsal fins on their heads. The illicium is a slender string-like apparatus that can be projected out in front of the fish very much like a fisherman casts out his fishing line. There is a thicker area at the end of the illicium referred to as an esca. This esca acts as bait dangling on the end of the “fishing line.” This fish has the ability to wiggle its lure to further entice its unsuspecting prey. When the prey draws close enough the angler swallows them whole. The illicium on this particular species is longer than those on other anglerfish, thus the name longlure anglerfish.

This is not an attractive animal. They have modified scales called dermal spicules. These spicules give the fish a very rough body texture not unlike the warts on the skin of a toad. They are in fact commonly called frogfish.  Longlures can be red, orange, yellow or brown. The combination of their coloration and rough exterior makes for the ultimate camouflage. They will sit motionlessly atop a pile of reef rubble and blend in perfectly with the sponge and coral debris around them. Their presence is all but unnoticeable when they cast out their lures to loll unsuspecting victims.

Nature has equipped this frogfish with other unique adaptations to their environment. Their pelvic fins have evolved into what very much resembles a foot. Frogfish do not swim around the ocean floor like other bottom dwelling species. They walk on their modified pelvic fins. They can also inflate their bodies by sucking in water to make them harder for a would-be predator to swallow.

Anglerfish are found in saltwater bodies in various regions of the world. Populations exist in the eastern Pacific, the Red Sea, Sea of Cortez, around the Galapagos Islands and from Japan to New Zealand. There are even species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. However most of these are deep water species and can not be kept in home aquariums.

Longlures can reach a maximum length of 8 inches. But they are typically much smaller. 

These are voracious carnivores. They can swallow a fish or a crustacean almost as large as they are. If food is abundant they will consume a large portion of their body weight. But they do not feed on a daily basis in nature. Every two or three days is sufficient to sustain them.

Its predatory nature and large appetite make longhorns a poor choice for both reef and community aquariums. They are best sited for a mono-species tank. In captivity they can be fed live feeder shrimp. With a little patience they can successfully be weaned off of live food.

Environmental Parameters


pH Level Specific Gravity
72-78  °F 8.1-8-4 1.020-1.025

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