What are some monkfish adaptations


The monkfish (Lophius piscatorius), also as Frogfish, Lotte or Construction agency known, belongs to the anglerfish family (Lophiidae) to the genusLophius. In English it is the monkfish fishing-frog, frog-fish or sea-devil called. The anglerfish is often associated with the angel shark (Squatina squatina) mistaken.


Appearance and dimensions

The anglerfish can reach a body length of about 2 meters, usually the body length is between 50 centimeters and 100 centimeters. The weight of the anglerfish is about 57.7 to 60 kilograms. Overall, the body shape of the anglerfish is strongly flattened. Furthermore, the monkfish also has a large, flattened head with a wide mouth, which is semicircular inside with large, strong, curved and pointed teeth. From the back of the head the body is pointed to the end of the tail. There are large, rounded pectoral fins and approximately equally large dorsal and anal fins of the anglerfish. Dorsal spines 8-8, dorsal soft rays 11-12, anal soft rays 9-11. Overall, the number of rays and especially the fins is made up as follows: D1: VI, D2: 11-12, A: 9-11, P: 23-28, V: 6.

There are also long spines dorsally. The peritoneum appears pale. The skin appears thin, rough and limp. Furthermore, the skin does not have any flakes.
Monkfish - skeleton
The fourth thorn is larger than the mouth. The first ray of the dorsal fin is the longest ray and ends in a fleshy appendix, also called a dummy bait. The first ray of the dorsal fin is just above the mouth. The anglerfish uses this beam as a kind of fishing rod and lures the prey with the dummy bait. The two pectoral fins are large, broad, and flattened. In contrast, the ventral fins are rather small and are hidden behind the gills of the head. The head, mouth and body are surrounded by frayed lobes. As a rule, the rough skin of the monkfish is brown in color and has a gray, dark red, dark brown or greenish pattern. The anglerfish can, however, adapt to its surroundings in terms of color. Especially when it is half-buried in the sandy and muddy gravel or on stony ground waiting for prey and attracts the prey with its fish-like organ, it is hardly to be discovered. In the wild, the anglerfish can reach an age of around 20 to 24 years under favorable circumstances.

Way of life

The anglerfish is not dangerous to humans. He lives solitary and stays at different depths. The depths can be 20 meters to 1,000 meters. As a lazy ambulance hunter, most of the time it lies well camouflaged and half-buried in the sandy or muddy ground and waits for prey animals to pass by. When a prey animal approaches, the rod with the dummy bait attached to it is moved. Small prey animals are sucked in with the stream of water by suddenly opening their wide mouth.


The anglerfish is found in the southwestern Barents Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar, including the Mediterranean and Black Seas. But it has also been sighted near Iceland and near Mauritania. The populations in the North Atlantic appear much larger than the populations found in West Africa. They also stay more at shallower depths. The anglerfish lives below 20 meters in sandy and muddy gravel, while at a depth of 1,000 meters it prefers to live on stony or rocky soils. Usually the anglerfish lies half-buried in the sediment and waits for prey animals to pass by with its angel-like organ.



The anglerfish feeds mainly on ray fins (Actinopterygii). Usually they are smaller fish (Pisces) such as dogfish (Squalidae), Rays (Batoidae), Sand eels (Ammodytidae), Bullheads (Cottidae), Disc bellies (Liparidae), Cod (Gadidae) and flatfish (Pleuronectiformes). Occasionally, however, the monkfish also eats lobster (Palinuridae), Cephalopods (Cephalopoda), Crustaceans (Crustacea) as well as diving seabirds. The most important and preferred fish species for the monkfish are the little cod (Trisopterus minutus) and golden salmon (Argentinidae). Also the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) from the family of the lobster-like (Nephropidae), which only plays a small role in the diet.


The anglerfish spawns in British waters between May and June and in the North Atlantic between June and August. The female can lay one to three million eggs at a depth of 160 to 200 meters. The eggs are in a band of mucus that can be over ten meters long and about 90 centimeters wide. Both sexes do not care for the brood and so the slimy band with the eggs drifts left to its own devices in the sea.
Once hatched, the larvae are just as extraordinary as the adult anglerfish. After hatching, the larvae are about four centimeters long and initially lead a planktonic way of life. When the larvae reach a body length of about seven centimeters, they then lead a benthic way of life. The males reach sexual maturity with a body length of 40 centimeters and at the age of four years and the females reach sexual maturity with a body length of 70 centimeters and with an age of about six years. The life expectancy of the anglerfish in the wild is around 20 to 24 years under favorable circumstances.


In some countries the monkfish is valued as an excellent food fish because the meat is white and firm. In addition, the meat of the monkfish is boneless, but only the tail is eaten. In Europe, the monkfish is usually not sold under its real name, but smoked without skin or head as a trout sturgeon or as a lotte. Furthermore, the monkfish is marketed fresh or frozen and is steamed, briefly seared, boiled, deep-fried, roasted, grilled, baked and heated in the microwave, eaten. Between 1992 and 1994 the total catch was around 11,000 to 12,000 tonnes.

Hazard and protection

The anglerfish is not on the IUCN Red List. The biological and ecological properties of deep-sea fish such as the anglerfish are relatively unknown and poorly studied and largely unregulated by fisheries. It is particularly difficult to assess whether unregulated fishing is affecting populations of this species.
Another problem associated with many deep-sea fish is their late sexual maturity, which means that they are at greater risk if they are caught before they reach reproductive age. Especially when the deep-sea fish are accidentally caught in the trawl as bycatch through indiscriminate commercial fishing. These fish are at the beginning of the food chain in the ecosystem and it is to be feared that the commercial overfishing of their food will result in subsequent damage to their habitat by weighted trawls.

The anglerfish is featured in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The European Union has not only defined regulatory powers over commercial sea fishing for the member states, but also allows individual countries a certain degree of flexibility in the application of EU regulations. The commercial use of monkfish is regulated by the total allowable catch (TAC). The fishing areas in the North Sea and west of Scotland are pre-determined by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). However, the fishing industry advocates an increase and extension of the permission to catch monkfish in deeper waters. ICES fears that commercial deep-sea fishing is threatening many species of fish. ICES has therefore recommended that better records be kept of catches and that commercial deep-sea fishing be drastically reduced. Today anglerfish can also be easily overexploited and there are no plans to manage their conservation. In the Mediterranean and Black Seas, too, the catches and age of anglerfish are stipulated according to the GFCM.

Uncontrolled, non-commercial use of fish stocks by commercial fishing with trawls always harbors risks for this fascinating habitat. Before we learn to understand the importance and value of the ocean as a whole, many species are critically endangered or have become extinct.


Literature and sources

  • Bernhard Grzimek: Grzimek's animal life. Fish 2, amphibian. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co.KG, Munich October 1993. ISBN 3-423-05970-2
  • Kurt Deckert: Urania animal kingdom - fish, amphibians, reptiles. Urania-Verlag Leipzig - Jena - Berlin 1991. ISBN 3-332-00376-3

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