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Anglerfish Facts That Will Leave You Amazed

Rajib Singha
When it comes to atrocious looks coupled with an immaculate hunting method, none stands up to the angler fish. Here are some facts you may want to know about this creature of the dark deep ocean.
Then came along the happy fish, swimming swiftly through the corals and the caves. From far it sees a light, luminous and fancy. Boy, is the light attractive or what! Let's get a closer look.
The darkest depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans are known to be the home of possibly the most horrid-looking sea creature on earth - the anglerfish.
There are more than 200 of these creatures residing in these parts of the world. While most of these fish prefer hiding in the lonely, lightless bottom of the sea, some can be found in shallow tropical environmental conditions also.

Its Appearance

  • Anglerfish are generally dark brown and gray in color, and they bear huge heads. The can weigh up to 110 lbs (50 kg).
  • They are characterized by their enormous crescent-shaped mouths filled with sharp, translucent teeth. Some of these fish can attain a length of 3.3 feet, while most of them are smaller than a foot.

Its Luring Hunting Skills

The most important characteristic feature of the anglerfish is, probably, associated with the way it hunts down its prey.
  • Anglerfish are generally dark brown and gray in color, and they bear huge heads. The can weigh up to 110 lbs (50 kg).
  • The fish can sway the flesh in any direction desired, while keeping its body perfectly still.
  • In deep-sea anglers, this very flesh can emit light; thanks to the fish's symbiotic relation with bacteria. So this makes the bait as some kind of a glowing food thus, improving chances of a kill. And when the prey is close enough, gulp!
  • This mode of predation of the fish is analogous to angling thus, the name 'anglerfish'.
  • The size of the prey does not matter, even if it is twice as that of the fish. The creature's pliable body structure allows it to swallow a prey bigger than its size.

Its Mating Ritual

The most intriguing fact about the anglerfish, is related to the male species. Unlike in the case of most land and marine animals, here the male takes a backseat when it comes to dominance. The male fish is not equipped with any luring organ like that of the female, and it is relatively smaller too; the size of the pinky.
So this gives the male a hard time foraging in the sea. Also, in some males, the alimentary canals (required in digestion and elimination) do not develop fully thus, making it almost impossible for the fish to survive on its own. And that is why a male anglerfish grows on a female one as a parasite. Wait! What?..

Here's how it happens...

Right at the time of birth, the male develops sensitive olfactory organs. This makes it easier for the male to detect the presence of a female in his vicinity. And when he does, he bites or latches onto her with his sharp teeth.
  • Thereafter, the male releases an enzyme that works to digest the body of the female and the skin of the male's mouth.
  • Overtime, this process goes on to a physical fusion of the pair down to the blood-vessel level.
  • Then begins the process of the male undergoing atrophy or degeneration. Meaning, the male starts losing his digestive organs, brain, heart, eyes and all other internal organs, until eventually he is left in the form of a pair of testicles.
  • The testicles are used to release sperm in response to the female's hormones indicating egg release. In this way, about 6 male anglerfish can be borne by a single female, providing her a lifetime and immediate supply of sperm for fertilization whenever she calls the shots. Some love making it is!
The anglerfish feeds on almost all types of fish. It also preys on batfish, marine snails, clams, crustacea, worms, copepods, and arrow worms.