Angler-Fish

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

angler-fish Lophius piscatorius, a fish of bizarre appearance and considerable size (maximum length 2 m: 6.5'), which is also called monkfish (a confusing name, also applied to angel shark). It has an extensive range from the Black Sea through the Mediterranean and up to Iceland. On the American side of the N. Atlantic its close relation L. americanus is known as goosefish.

The angler-fish is a master of camouflage, concealing itself on the seabed in a manner well described by the Duke of Argyll (quoted by Goode and associates, 1884, who omit to say which duke):

The whole upper surface is tinted and mottled in such close resemblance to stones and gravel and seaweeds that it becomes quite indistinguishable among them. In order to complete the method of concealment, the whole margins of the fish, and the very edge of the lips and jaws, have loose tags and fringes which wave and sway about amid the currents of water so as to look exactly like the smaller algae which move around them and along with them. Even the very ventral fins of this devouring deception, which are thick, strong and fleshy, almost like hands, and which evidently help in a sudden leap, are made like two great clam-shells, while the iris of the eyes is so coloured in lines radiating from the pupil as to look precisely like some species of Patella or limpet.