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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The anglerfish lies half-buried in the mud or sand on the bottom of the sea, attracting fish to its huge mouth by means of its lure. Fish are drawn in by the sudden inrush of water. This method of feeding is a speciality of the various groups of anglerfish worldwide.  Anglerfish spawn between May and June in British waters, and between June and August in the North Atlantic. The eggs, numbering up to a million, are contained in a band of mucus about 10 metres long, released to drift in the open ocean. The larvae, when they hatch, look just as extraordinary as the adult fish. They mature at a length of 40 cm and at an age of four years for males, and a length of 70 cm and an age of six years for females. A fully-grown adult anglerfish may live for 20 years or more.
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Description

The various names for this fish - anglerfish, monkfish, goosefish - point to the fact that it has a very unconventional appearance, as indeed do all 24 members of this family of fishes. At first glance, it appears to be all head – and a head almost as wide as the whole fish is long - with the flattened body tapering sharply towards the tail. The skin is dark, rough and knobbly and has no scales. Despite its unappetising look, anglerfish are a commercial species, and considered good eating, although the tail is usually the only part of the fish displayed on most fishmongers' slabs. Other notable features of this fish include an enormous, crescent-shaped mouth on the upper half of the body, and the presence of three long spines on the head between the eyes; the front spine is modified to act as a lure, bringing prey fish within reach of the anglerfish's mouth. The dorsal and ventral fins are placed way back on the tail, and the two large limb-like pectoral fins have gill slits located directly behind them.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs on sandy and muddy bottoms from the coast (below 20 m, Ref. 12382) down to depths of 1,000 m. May also be found on rocky bottoms (Ref. 12382). It lies half-buried in the sediment waiting for its prey. It attracts prey by means of its fishing filament (Ref. 5377). Feeds mainly on fishes, occasionally sea-birds. Marketed fresh and frozen; eaten steamed, sautéed, broiled, boiled, fried, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988). It is a well-studied species in Europe and is sold without the skin and the head under the name 'queue de Lotte' (Ref. 5377). Does not adapt well in home aquariums due to its large size (Ref. 12382).
  • Caruso, J.H. 1986 Lophiidae. p. 1362-1363. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Volume 3. Unesco, Paris. (Ref. 4712)
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Description

 The angler fish grows up to 200 cm in length and is a very distinctive fish, recognizable by having its head and body depressed, a wide mouth, broad head and a fleshy 'lure' at the end of its first dorsal spine, which is used to attract prey. Its colour can be variable but is principally brown or greeny brown with reddish or dark brown mottlings. It always has a white underside. The skin is loose and scaleless and the midline of the body is fringed with leaf like flaps. Lophius piscatorius is a slow moving, bottom dwelling fish most comonly seen half buried and concealed in the sediment.The angler fish uses its lure to attract prey to within reach. Prey items are usually smaller fish (such as spurdogs, rays, sand eels, sculpins, sea snails, cod, whiting, pouting, haddock, flatfishes) but a range of items have been found in angler fish stomachs including; lobsters, crabs, squids and occasionally seabirds. Lophius piscatorius is otherwise known as monkfish and is an important commercial fish. It can be confused with the angelshark, Squatina squatina, a cartilaginous fish which, is also known as monkfish. Lophius piscatorius is included in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for deep-water fish.
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Description

The angler fish is unlike any other fish encountered in the waters around Britain and Ireland. It has a large flattened head with a wide semicircualr mouth and inward curving, pointed teeth. Behind the head the body tapers to a short, thickset tail. There are a number of separate, elongate fin rays on the back of the fish. The first of these is the longest and terminates in a fleshy lobe. It uses this as a kind of fishing rod and lure to attract its prey, hence its common name. The pectoral fins are large and broad and the pelvic fins are small and are located on the underside of the head. A border of fringed lobes surround the head and body. The angler fish is very good at camouflage and the colour varies to match that of its surroundings. Adults can reach a maximum length of 2m but most are between 50-100cm. The angler fish is unlikely to be confused with any other species.
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Distribution

Eastern Atlantic: south-western Barents Sea to Strait of Gibraltar including the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Reported from Iceland (Ref. 4712) and Mauritania (Ref. 5377). North Atlantic specimens attain larger sizes than those collected off West Africa and they also occur in shallower depths.
  • Caruso, J.H. 1986 Lophiidae. p. 1362-1363. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Volume 3. Unesco, Paris. (Ref. 4712)
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Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, eastern Atlantic: Barents Sea and Iceland to Mauritania.
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This species is common all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
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Range

The anglerfish range extends along the eastern Atlantic, along the Norwegian coast of the south-western Barents Sea, down to the Straits of Gibraltar, and includes the Mediterranean and Black Sea. There are also records from Icelandic waters.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 8; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11 - 12; Analsoft rays: 9 - 10
  • Caruso, J.H. 1986 Lophiidae. p. 1362-1363. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Volume 3. Unesco, Paris. (Ref. 4712)
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Size

Maximum size: 2000 mm SL
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Max. size

200 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4712)); max. published weight: 57.7 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 24 years (Ref. 46508)
  • IGFA 2001 Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale, USA. (Ref. 40637)
  • Caruso, J.H. 1986 Lophiidae. p. 1362-1363. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Volume 3. Unesco, Paris. (Ref. 4712)
  • Landa, J., P. Pereda, R. Duarte and M. Azevedo 2001 Growth of anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius and L. budegassa) in Atlantic Iberian waters. Fish. Res. 51(2-3):363-376.
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Diagnostic Description

Peritoneum pale. Head and body depressed. Mouth wide and cavernous. Skin thin and loose, scales absent. Esca bifid, 2 broad, flattened , leaf-like blades. Dorsal spines long, stout and bearing many well-developed tendrils; 4th spine greater than snout width (Ref. 4712).
  • Caruso, J.H. 1986 Lophiidae. p. 1362-1363. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Volume 3. Unesco, Paris. (Ref. 4712)
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

bathydemersal; marine; depth range 20 - 1000 m (Ref. 6302)
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Depth range based on 18938 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 14191 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 2670
  Temperature range (°C): 3.062 - 15.392
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 30.887
  Salinity (PPS): 32.316 - 38.698
  Oxygen (ml/l): 1.249 - 6.816
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.104 - 2.018
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 23.672

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 2670

Temperature range (°C): 3.062 - 15.392

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 30.887

Salinity (PPS): 32.316 - 38.698

Oxygen (ml/l): 1.249 - 6.816

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.104 - 2.018

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 23.672
 
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 Lophius piscatorius is present in waters from the low intertidal down to depths of 550 m. It is uncommon to see an angler fish in water shallower than 18 m though it may migrate down to as deep as 2000 m in offshore waters in order to spawn. It is found mostly on sandy or muddy bottoms but is also present on shell, gravel and occasionally rocky areas.
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Depth: 20 - 1000m.
From 20 to 1000 meters.

Habitat: bathydemersal. Occurs on sandy and muddy bottoms from the coast down to depths of 1000 m. Feeds mainly on fishes, occasionally sea-birds. Marketed fresh and frozen; eaten steamed, sautéed, broiled, boiled, fried, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988).
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The angler fish occurs sublittorally from 2m to over 500m in a wide varity of habitats.
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The anglerfish frequents the coastal, deep continental shelf regions, on the sandy or muddy sea bottom, at depths ranging from 20 to 1000 metres.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Lophius piscatorius

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 11 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACCCTTTATCTAATCTTTGGAGCCTGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGCACCGCCCTA---AGCTTACTTATTCGGGCTGAACTAAGCCAGCCTGGCGCCCTCTTAGGGGAT---GACCAAATCTATAACGTTATTGTTACCGCACACGCCTTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTATGGTTATACCAATCATGATTGGGGGGTTCGGCAACTGACTTATCCCCTTAATG---ATCGGGGCCCCCGACATAGCCTTCCCTCGAATGAACAACATGAGCTTCTGACTCCTTCCCCCCTCTTTCCTCCTGCTACTTGCCTCTTCCGGAGTTGAAGCCGGAGCAGGCACTGGATGAACCGTTTACCCCCCACTAGCAGGGAACCTTGCACACGCAGGAGCCTCTGTCGACCTA---ACTATTTTCTCCCTTCACCTGGCCGGGATCTCTTCAATCCTAGGGGCAATCAACTTTATCACAACAATTATCAACATAAAACCCCCCACGATCTCCCAATATCAAACGCCCTTATTCGTATGAGCTGTTTTAATCACAGCAGTCCTTTTACTCCTATCCCTGCCTGTGCTTGCCGCA---GGCATTACCATGCTCTTAACAGATCGGAACTTAAACACCACTTTCTTTGACCCCACCGGGGGAGGGGACCCTATCCTGTACCGACACTTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lophius piscatorius

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 40
Specimens with Barcodes: 63
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Not subject to protection.
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Threats

Not Evaluated
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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The biology of deep-water fish such as the anglerfish is still relatively unknown and with deep-water fishing largely unregulated, it has proved difficult to assess whether populations of these fish are being adversely affected. Another problem associated with many deep-water species is their late maturity, meaning that there is a greater risk of them being caught before reaching reproductive age. When these deep-water fish are caught accidentally (bycatch) as often happens with indiscriminate trawling, they are unable to survive being hauled up to the surface, and are already dead before they are returned to the sea. These large predatory fish are thought to be top of the food chain within the ecosystem they inhabit, and there are fears that commercial overfishing of their food, and subsequent damage to their habitat by weighted trawl nets, could have an adverse effect on populations.
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Management

Conservation

The anglerfish is listed in the UK Biodiversity Grouped Species Action Plan for deep-water fish. The European Union (EU) has regulatory powers over commercial sea fishing for member countries but allows individual nations some flexibility in the application of the EU rules. The commercial exploitation of anglerfish is governed by the total allowable catch (TAC) regulations. Catches in the North Sea and west of Scotland, areas monitored by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), are covered by precautionary TACs. However, the fishing industry has been lobbying for an increase, and permission to extend the catching of anglerfish into deeper waters. ICES has suggested that commercial deep-sea fishing could pose a serious threat to many species as numbers are below safe biological limits. For other species, we simply do not know the size of their populations. ICES has recommended that unsustainable commercial deep-sea fishing should therefore be reduced, and better records kept of fishing activities so catches can be equated to known fish population sizes. At the present time, anglerfish are being overfished, and there are no management plans for its conservation. The deep-sea ecosystem is still largely unexplored and understudied. However, we do know that it is a fragile system. Unregulated, unsustainable commercial harvesting of fish stocks risks wrecking this fascinating habitat before we have learned of its importance and value to the ocean as a whole.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; price category: high; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1992 FAO yearbook 1990. Fishery statistics. Catches and landings. FAO Fish. Ser. (38). FAO Stat. Ser. 70:(105):647 p. (Ref. 4931)
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Wikipedia

Lophius piscatorius

Lophius piscatorius, commonly known as the angler, is a monkfish in the family Lophiidae. It is found in coastal waters of the northeast Atlantic, from the Barents Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Within some of its range, including the Irish Sea this species comprises a significant commercial fishery.[1]

External anatomy[edit]

It has a very large head which is broad, flat and depressed; the rest of the body appears to be a mere appendage. The wide mouth extends all the way around the anterior circumference of the head, and both jaws are armed with bands of long pointed teeth. These are inclined inwards, and can be closed so as to offer no impediment to an object gliding towards the stomach, but to prevent its escape from the mouth.

The pectoral and pelvic fins are so articulated as to perform the functions of feet, so that the fish is able to walk along the bottom of the sea, where it generally hides itself in the sand or amongst seaweed. All round its head and also along the body the skin bears fringed appendages resembling short fronds of seaweed, a structure which, combined with the extraordinary faculty of assimilating the colour of the body to its surroundings, assists this fish greatly in camouflaging itself in the places which it selects on account of the abundance of prey. It has no scales.

Female anglers grow to a length of more than 2 m.

Angling[edit]

Skeleton - MHNT

The fish has eighty long filaments along the middle of its head, which are, in fact, the detached and modified three first spines of the anterior dorsal fin. The filament most important to the angler is the first, which is the longest, terminates in a lappet, and is movable in every direction. The angler is believed to attract other fishes by means of its lure, and then to seize them with its enormous jaws. It is probable enough that smaller fish are attracted in this way, but experiments have shown that the action of the jaws is automatic and depends on contact of the prey with the tentacle. Its stomach is expandable and it is not unknown for these fish to swallow prey of its own size.

Lifecycle[edit]

The spawn of the angler consists of a thin sheet of transparent gelatinous material 2 or 3 feet broad (60–90 cm) and 25 to 30 feet (8 or 9 metres) in length drifting freely in the water. The eggs in this sheet are in a single layer, each in its own little cavity. The larvae are free-swimming and have the pelvic fins elongated into filaments.

Sustainable consumption[edit]

In 2010, Greenpeace International added the angler to its seafood red list, a list of commonly sold fish which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries.[2]

References[edit]

  • Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38 (2006) 742–754
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