Frogfish are one of our favorite creatures to find under water, and for many are a bucket-list must find. Although not very rare, or geographically limited, these animals have numerous special abilities helping them camouflage and make them hard to find. You may have already swam by one (or twelve), without even knowing!
Fun facts about the frogfish:
- There are 47+ species of frogfish
- Many can change colour over time to camouflage within their surroundings. For giant frogfish this has seen to take place over several weeks.
- Many can also grow hair and become ‘Hairy Frogfish’… it is not a species in itself!
- Their attack is amongst the fastest in the world, being able to trap prey in 0.006 seconds!
A bit more about the frogfish!
These beautifully ugly creatures can be found anywhere in the atlantic and pacific, where the water temperature is often above 20 degrees Celsius… which is not too bad. At Kalimaya our average temperature is roughly 26-27 degrees, but can go as low as 24 or as high as 29. Bring a wetsuit if you want to go searching, as we have had 6 different species spotted on the house reef alone!
As ‘trap hunters’ these angler fish often lie in wait for passing fish to come in close before BAM opening it’s mouth so fast, up to 1/6000 of a second, creating a vacuum of water and sucking the fish in whole. These fish do not have teeth (more like sandpaper jaws) so they suck the fish in whole. Because they rely on camouflage and do not move much, the best place to find them are on coral bommies (rocks covered in coral), on sponges, or in the sand / coral rubble; which are traditional fish nursery areas.
One special adaptation frog fish have is their ‘illicium’ lure projected from their head. When frogfish are hungry they wave this lure in front of their head (just like how we traditionally fish with line and lures) to attract small fish and shrimp to come closer. They have also been observed falling for their own trap and eating other frog fish.
So, are they male or female? Most often, all the frogfish we see are female! The male frogfish never grow much more than 1cm in length and when it comes time to mate they attach themselves to the female (sometimes hundreds of times the male’s size), and get absorbed into her skin for genetic transference when the female wants. Gross, but kind of cool at the same time!
There is a rumour that these fish cannot swim, which is a lie. While they can often be seen scuttling along the ocean floor when they change location, if need be they can swim several meters off the ocean floor in an awkward flapping motion moving it’s ginormous head and tiny body (it’s like an orange on a toothpick) to a new location.