Warty Frogfish (Antennarius maculatus)

Also known as the Clown Frogfish, the warty frogfish is a species of frogfish (Antennariidae) that inhabits tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific, ranging from Mauritius to the western Pacific. Like other frogfish Antennarius maculatus is a benthic species and inhabits sheltered rocky and coral reefs. Adult A. maculatus typically associate themselves with sponges, using camouflage to ambush any animal that wanders too close.


Animalia-Chordata-Actinopterygii-Lophiiformes-Antennariidae-Antenarius-A. maculatus

Image: Thesupermat

Antennarius maculatus | ©Francesco De Marchi   (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia)

Antennarius maculatus (Lophiiformes - Antennariidae), also known as the Warty frogfish, is a fish of tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

This fish is characterized by numerous prominent wart-like protuberances on its skin and a large esca that mimics a tiny fish. Coloration is highly variable, ranging from cream to yellow, brown, or black with scattered dark circular spots and saddles or blotches ranging from white to pink, rust-red, or red [source].


Psychedelic Frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica)

…is a species of seemingly psychedelic frogfish found near the reefs of the Islands of Bali and Ambon in Indonesia  Named after its unique color pattern the psychedelic frogfish is an ambush predator and instead of changing its color to match its surroundings like other frogfish do, the psychedelic frogfish will cram itself in-between corals, using its unique coloration to match the coral background, catching any fish unfortunate enough to swim by. It also has very thick skin to protect itself from the sharp edges of the coral. Like other frogfish the psychedelic frogfish prefers to walk than swim and will use its modified pectoral fins to hop along the sea floor to reach its destination. Like the stripes of a zebra the lines on a psychedelic frogfish are unique to each individual.



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Striated frogfish - Antennarius striatus

As other species in the order, the Striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus (Lophiiformes - Antennariidae), are bizarre and fascinating creatures.

Antennarius striatus (commonly named Striped, Striated, Splitlure, Zebra or Hairy frogfish) is a singulary interesting frogfish, mainly because of its large and well visible worm-like lure which it likes to move a lot. Because of its perfect camouflage it is not that easy to find though.

The most interesting aspect of the frogfish, apart from his prefect camouflage is the way he attracts his prey. Other fish lie in wait until the prey swims close to their mouth (lie-in-wait predation), but the frogfish (or anglerfish) lures the prey (fish, crustaceans) actively to where it can strike. The lure mimics food animals like worms, small shrimps or small fish. The prey approaches to catch the lure and then is engulfed by the waiting frogfish (see a video). This strategy is called aggressive mimicry.

The Striated frogfish occurs in the Red Sea, East Africa to Tahiti (Indopacific), West Atlantic, East Atlantic, and from Japan to New Zealand. The species is widespread but it is difficult to find.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©David Harasti

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Part 10 of my documentary, “Mucky Secrets”, about the marine life of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia.

Frogfishes of the family Antennariidae, are a type of anglerfish in the order Lophiiformes. They are rare at most dive destinations but common in the Lembeh Strait.

Frogfishes such as the painted frogfish, Antennarius pictus, are highly camouflaged to resemble sponges or rocks covered in algae. They have an amazing ability to adapt their skin color and texture to blend in with their surroundings, and numerous color variations of the same species can be found.

Rather than blending into the surroundings, the warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus, mimics toxic sea slugs to deter predators.

Although frogfishes can swim, they usually walk around on their pectoral fins which have evolved into arm-like limbs complete with an elbow-like joint.

Frogfishes are generally ambush predators, and have a very clever hunting technique. Their first dorsal spine, the illicium, ends in a fleshy lure known as an esca, which resembles a variety of marine creatures depending on the species. The frogfish waves the illicium like a fishing rod to attract prey. The appearance of the esca is useful in distinguishing between species. If the illicium and esca are removed, the frogfish can grow a replacement.

The illicium is not always deployed, and opportunistic frogfishes will snatch what food they can. They will often just lie in wait, their upturned mouths ready to devour unsuspecting bypassers.

We meet a giant frogfish, Antennarius commerson, taking up a more elevated position on a tube sponge, from which to ambush prey.

A warty frogfish appears nervous as it finds itself in the path of a highly venomous flower urchin, Toxopneustes pileolus, before the urchin finally changed course.

The striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus, is a real star amongst Lembeh critters, and high on most divers’ list of favorites. Many examples in the area bear long skin filaments and are known amongst the dive community as “hairy frogfish”. They are usually found on the open sand amongst algae. The esca resembles a polychaete worm. A black phase of the striated frogfish, without significant skin appendages, is encountered. Its possible that the filaments may be seasonally shed.

Finally we encounter a tiny juvenile painted frogfish, just a few millimeters in length.

Commerson's frogfish / オオモンカエルアンコウ

Antennarius commerson

The Commerson’s frogfish with all black skin.
Its skin color and pattern can be changed freely depending on environment.


Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Lophiiformes Antennariidae
動物界 脊索動物門 条鰭綱 アンコウ目 カエルアンコウ科

The picture was taken at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Okinawa, Japan.

Senegalese frogfish

Due to its appearance, the bizarre Senegalese frogfish, Fowlerichthys senegalensis (Lophiiformes - Antennariidae), [Syn. Antennarius senegalensis], may well go unnoticed in the seabed and be mistaken for a piece of coral, being discovered only when moving or finding his dark eyes.

This fish is restricted to the coastal waters of tropical West Africa, from Morocco to Angola.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Susana Martins

Locality: São Vicente, Cape Verde