Sargassum Anglerfish, Histrio histrio Click to enlarge image
A Sargassum Anglerfish at the surface, La Rascasse Resort house reef, Manado, Indonesia, September 2009. Image: William Tan
© William Tan

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    histrio
    Genus
    Histrio
    Family
    Antennariidae
    Order
    Lophiiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 16 cm in length.

Introduction

Unlike most other shallow-water anglerfishes the skin of the Sargassum Anglerfish is smooth rather than prickly. The species occurs in all tropical marine waters except the Eastern Pacific.

Identification

The Sargassum Anglerfish can be recognised by its body shape, dorsal fin structure, colour and presence of skin flaps and filaments. Unlike most other shallow-water anglerfishes (family Antennariidae) the skin of the Sargassum Anglerfish is smooth rather than prickly.

This fish has a dorsal fin divided into four parts. The most anterior part is the "fishing rod and lure" comprising the illicium and esca. This is followed by two separate spines and finally by a long-based soft-rayed portion.

The Sargassum Anglerfish varies from pale cream to greenish or dark brown. It has an irregular pattern of blotches and spots.

Habitat

Eggs, juveniles and adults usually live closely associated with floating algae. Adults are sometimes seen swimming under clumps of floating Sargassum weed.

Distribution

The Sargassum Anglerfish occurs in all tropical marine waters except the Eastern Pacific.

In Australia it is known from Rockingham, Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country, and south to Batemans Bay, New South Wales.

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



Other behaviours and adaptations

When threatened by a predator a Sargassum Anglerfish can jump out of the water onto the top of an algal mat. It may stay out of water for some time.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.