Where Does the Anglerfish Live?

Some species of angling fish inhabit the shallow, tropical waters, but scientists are interested in those living in deep, murky ocean waters – some as much as 16,400 feet (5,000 meters).

The anglerfish live in the bathypelagic zones of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans. They are rarely spotted above the lowest zones of the ocean floor and rarely enter the Pacific or Indian oceans. Anglerfish have a preference for murky waters for both defensive and predatory purposes.

There are over 200 subspecies of anglerfish, most of which reside deep within the Antarctic and Atlantic Oceans. More than 200 species of Anglerfish have been discovered so far, with the majority living in the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans in the 2-5om depths.

Primarily, the fishes found on anglers are d deep within the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, about one mile beneath the surface. Anglerfish eat both living and dead prey, which sink to the seafloor, like squid, sea turtles, etc. While the anglerfish may eat live game, a portion of an anglerfish’s diet is also made up of eating dead fish and other wildlife. Anglerfish seem to lead largely solitary lives, except, of course, after finding a mate.

How Anglerfish Feed Themselves in the Wild

Because they do not move much, they are frequently caught empty-handed. Anglerfish are suspected to depend on a tactile response for feeding, provided that a lure works. They have giant mouths, capable of swallowing prey nearly as big as they are. What is particularly impressive is that the females can consume fish roughly twice their size because they have such giant mouths.

Anglerfish use their other senses to move, search for prey, and to entice their mates. Anglerfish also can lure smaller fish towards them, which, once drawn closer, can be an easier target. Not many creatures in the ocean eat anglerfish (although a few were found in the stomachs of other deep-sea predators, like Antarctic toothfish and Dissostichus mawsoni). Because anglerfish are seen deep underwater, they are not targeted by humans or caught by accident.

Any creature found near the seafloor may provide easy pickings for the anglerfish. Anglerfish are ideally suited to living deep under the sea. While an anglerfish may visit your nightmares and redefine your idea of ugly, it is also an exciting specimen that illustrates the earth’s diversity and the mysteries still hidden within today’s oceans.

The Full Range of Anglerfish Is Unknown

While their stunning (and, admittedly, somewhat disturbing) looks have brought widespread attention to the fish, we do not yet know much about anglerfish biology since they live in waters often too deep for scientists to access.

Because most anglerfish live deep in the ocean, marine biologists find it challenging to study their habitat, diet, reproduction, and other factors. Over 200 angler fish are located below the depths of the sea in the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, although a few are found in the shallower, tropical environments. This paper will be discussing habitats for angler fish at depth.

Eleven families in the Lophiiformes (Anglerfish) order are found in the deep sea, and there are almost one hundred species, which is higher than in any other bathypelagic fish group. Two more families of anglerfishes live in deeper waters: Chaunacidae (sea toads) and Lophiidae (goosefishes). A third family, the Ogcocephalidae (Batfishes), lives mainly in shallow waters but may also be found in deeper waters.

Some of these fishes live away from the seabed, making them pelagic, while some anglerfishes live close to the seabed, making them benthic. Young Anglerfish typically eat invertebrates, while older ones switch between invertebrates and fish. Because anglerfish are opportunistic predators, they exhibit a spectrum of prey preferences, with fish on the far end of the size spectrum while showing increasing selectivity towards specific prey. These predators eat a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and cephalopods.

Comparable Species and Their Natural Behaviors

Males of the oceanic loggerhead do not have lures; instead, most have large, well-developed eyes and enormous nostrils that help them home in on a species-specific chemical lure released by a female. The interests in the deep-sea anglerfish females (the males do not have glowing organs) are far more elaborate than those of the species that live in the shallows. In addition, bioluminescence is used to lure prey during darkness.

The anglerfish lurches shine in the deep sea, at least a half-mile (0.8 km) beneath the sunlit surface, thanks to a fluorescent bacteria which takes root in the lures.

Deep-sea anglerfish lure their prey through the dark, pitch-black darkness of the ocean, between 300 meters and 5,000 meters (980 feet and 16,400 feet), using a bioluminescent fishing device placed at the tip of their snouts–hence anglers in their name. Deep-sea anglerfishes lure their prey in the inky-black ocean darkness at depths between 300 and 5,000 meters (980 and 16,400 feet) using a bioluminescent fishing apparatus placed on the tip of the snout — hence the angler in their common name.

Deep-sea anglerfishes (family Ceratiidae, Caulophrynidae, Photocorynidae, Linophrynidae, and Melanocetidae) exhibit odd sexual dimorphisms (differences between the males and the females). Some anglerfish, such as the Ceratiidae or sea devils, have a remarkable mating technique.

One explanation for the evolution of sexual commensalism is that the relatively low density of females in the deep-sea environment leaves few opportunities for mating selection among the anglerfish. One estimate is 15 to 30 mature males per anglerfish female, and probably, anglerfish have great difficulty finding partners in deep oceans.

Crustaceans and fish (prawns, especially) make up most of an anglerfish’s diet. Deep-sea anglerfish, including Fanfin Seadevil, known scientifically as Caulophryne jordani, are found throughout all the oceans worldwide, but about 160 known species are exceedingly rare.

Nicholas Finn

I've been the captain of a fishing boat for over 20 years, and I created Pirateering to share my knowledge of and interest in seafaring.

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