Animal Species:Blackspot Anglerfish, Tathicarpus butleri Ogilby, 1907

The Blackspot Anglerfish uses it's pectoral fins as 'arm-like' appendages that can move individually to grasp objects or for moving over the bottom.

Thank you to Dr Ted Pietsch for identifying the fish and to J. Stocks for providing the image, movie and continuing updates on the fish which is now taking live prey.

Standard Common Name

Blackspot Anglerfish

Alternative Name/s

Butler’s Frogfish


The Blackspot Anglerfish has a stout body with variably developed skin filaments. Its colouration can range from pale grey to greenish or brown with various markings on the head and sides. Its has tall dorsal, anal and caudal fins.

The pectoral fins are 'arm-like', the rays can be moved individually, allowing the fish to grasp objects and to splay the rays when moving over the bottom. The fish in the image was caught because it was holding on to the plastic mesh of a crab pot using its pectoral fins.

Size range

The species grows to about 10 cm in length.


It is a benthic species that is found in tropical inshore and coral reef waters of Papua New Guinea and Australia.

In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south on the east coast to southern Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Tathicarpus butleri

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Blackspot Anglerfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?



What does this mean?


  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Pietsch, T.W. & D.B. Grobecker. 1987. Frogfishes of the World. Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioural Ecology. Stanford University Press. Pp. 420.
  3. Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J., & G.G. Leyland. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of northern and north-western Australia. An illustrated Guide. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research. Pp. 375.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Blackspot Anglerfish, Tathicarpus butleri, weed, seaweed, seagrass, kelp, ecklonia, Butler’s Frogfish, stout body, odd-shaped, pale grey, green, brown, markings on head and sides, tall dorsal fins, arm-like pectoral fins, < 10 cm, benthic species, tropical water, inshore water, coral reef, marine, Antennariidae,