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Toadfishes, family Batrachoididae, are a group of about 70 mostly marine, bottom-dwelling fish that make up a single family in the fish order Batrachoidiformes. Toadfish have cryptic coloration and a characteristic body shape suited for their sedentary lifestyle: a broad, flattened head with eyes set on top and a large mouth. They are opportunistic ambush predators, hiding in wait in shelters on rocky or muddy bottoms to catch their prey (fish and invertebrates). Males call mates to their nest with croaking, hooting, grunting and humming sounds they make using their swim bladder; toadfish also make (different) noises when threatened. Little is known about the behavior or natural history of most toadfishes, but in at least some species, males to tend the eggs after they are laid in the nest, and then protect the embryos until they are self-sufficient, about 3-4 weeks; in the fish world, this a large parental investment.

There are three subfamilies in the Batrachoididae:

The generalized Batrachiodinae (~43 species) are found world-wide, mostly in marine waters but there are a few freshwater species, this subfamily includes the species Opsanus tau, a species of note as a research animal.

The Porichtynae (15 species), known as midshipmen fish, are found only in the new world. These are a more specialized group characterized by rows of photophores (light-producing organs) along their lateral lines.

The Thalassophryninae (11 species) are also found only in the new world, but most species are uncommon. These toadfishes have venom glands connected to the dorsal fin spines, an apparatus considers the most highly developed among fish, which are usually only grooved spines. The toxin is painful and has been characterized as a new family of toxins, but is not as serious a health risk as lionfish (genusPterois) toxin; run-ins with Thalassophryne nattereri have caused problems for fishermen in Brazil.

Some batrachoidid species are available in the aquarium trade, for example Thalassophryne amazonica, the prehistoric monster fish and Batrachomoeus trispinosus, the three-spined frog fish, Some species are marketed for human consumption.

Fish in the families Psychrolutidae and Tetraodontidae are also given the common name toadfish, but these are unrelated to batrachoidid frogfishes.

(Collette 1966; Froese and Pauly 2011; Magalhães et al. 2005; Rice and Bass 2009; Seriously Fish; Wikipedia 2011)


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