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FAQs about Anglerfish, Frogfish Behavior

Related Articles: Anglerfishes

Related FAQs:  Anglers 1, Anglers 2, Angler ID, Angler Compatibility, Angler Selection, Angler Systems, Angler Feeding, Angler Disease, Angler Reproduction,

Frogfish Floating     6/25/13
Hi crew. So about a month ago I picked up a 2.5" A. pictus, He is in a 34g FOWLR with a surprisingly docile Toby puffer and cryptic dwarf moray. So a
little over two weeks ago, after he took his first frozen silverside (1/2 of one),
<A clue here>

he wasn't looking too good. He kept on pacing the surface of the water and refused to eat. This was right before I went on vacation. I had my LFS manager watch over him at the shop until I got back. When I got back, he was all fine and eating again. He got two gut loaded ghost shrimp, and five or so days later got two more, and then one more the next day.
<... too much>
Well yesterday, about 3 days after his last feeding, he started to float.

I finally managed to get him upside under a ledge so he wasn't crashing into walls. I woke up this morning and found him acting completely normal and not floating. He was like this until about 30 min ago. I fed the puffer (he was acting normal then), come back 5 minutes later, and see him rising from the rocks. Again, I got him under a ledge. I suspected overfeeding again, but it seemed strange that he would be floating for a day, normal for a day, and then all of a sudden start to float again. Any ideas? Thanks.
<Yes; this fish is being over-fed, the food being converted to gas inside it. Anglers will eat and eat when food presents itself... Not good for them though... And results in too-fast growth and shorter life spans... feed just a bit (something in the size range of the eye of the fish) twice a week maximum. Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Orange Frogfish gasping and turning pale     10/16/12
OK Bob,
Cheeto has me stumped.  I've attached a beauty shot of him apparently doing what he is supposed to be doing, grounded on the bottom, and "fishing."  However, just a second before he was wedged in between the filter intake pipe and the aquarium wall, right at the surface like I described before.
<Not a big deal... Antennariids "do this">
  I gave him a little nudge, and he shot right down to the bottom and grounded himself.  That's when I took the pic.
<I'd not nudge this fish, these fishes>
It seems he is (for lack of a better descriptor) inherently buoyant.
<Mmm, maybe... it, the fish may be being fed too much, and/or too much of the wrong "stuff"... What are you feeding, how much, often... have you read on WWM re Angler nutr.?>
Everytime he "lets go" of the bottom or isn't in a hole, he floats to the surface.  Notice in the second picture how he is braced against the rock and the glass.  What is weird is, he doesn't seem overly stressed about not being able to stay down.
<Not a worry>
 When he begins to float up, he gulps water and jets around the tank by shooting it out his gill openings, and hardly ever breaks the surface by jetting down when he gets to <too> close.  It is obvious he has to actively stay down.  He will travel around the tank like this, especially when I turn the lights off at night.  When I shine a flashlight on him, he jets down and takes cover - but can only stay down if he braces himself.  He is still eating, and his color is good.  I am convinced based on his shape, size, and fin banding that he is an Antennatus tuberosus.  Is this inherent buoyancy a characteristic of this species?
<It is not>
 It seems that if he had gas bubbles, they would have come out already, and if he gulped air when originally put into the tank (which was possible) that it would have re-absorbed by now.  In any case, I have not tried the "burping" procedure
<I would only attempt this as a last resort>
 outlined on other threads due to his size, and that it doesn't seem he is "in extremis" yet. Is it possible that this observed buoyancy is due to the fact that he is in a shallow tank, and that if he were in deeper water, the pressure would naturally keep him down?  Or has he just developed this anomaly, and is just trying his best to "deal with it?"
<See above>
He eats 1-2 shrimp or mollies every 3-4 days,
<Cut this amount of food in half>
and other than the
jetting behavior and buoyancy stuff, seems to be just a picky eater. still won't take dead food.
What do you think?  Would you try the "burping" procedure, or is his behavior strange, but normal?  Mahalo nui loa, Bob.
-- Lee
<Cheers, BobF>

Re: Small Orange Frogfish gasping and turning pale
As always, thanks for your insights Bob.
<Welcome Lee. BobF>

Frogfishes / anglerfishes... Sel., beh., hlth. gen.  -11/18/07 Hi people - <Rachel> I was reading over your Q&A page for frogfishes (aka anglerfishes, but this common name is usually reserved for the entire order, Lophiiformes). <Ahh! Yes> I think your website is wonderful and a joy to read. If I may, I would just like to comment a little on the Q&A for frogfishes. <Please do> The inside of the mouth of a frogfish is quite varied; it can be the normal pale color you might expect, or the tissue could be differently colored and look like algae (many times black and white!) - all part of the fish's camouflage <And lure strategy> (can't have that prey item scared away at the gaping mouth of the frogfish, since they rarely close it all the way in order to keep water circulating over their gills). Lumpy frogfish - consider that A. maculatus (the clown or Wartskin frogfish) is, well, many times warty. So if your readers have purchased A. maculatus and are perplexed by its cancerous tumors filled with skin parasites, please assure them that this is perfectly natural. Another side note being that most frogfishes have a small bump on their lower lip right smack dab in the center. This shouldn't be abnormally huge (such as the size of a pea), but it is noticeable. It can also get pink and inflamed if they're constantly hitting up against the glass of the aquarium. <Well-stated> Air bubbles beneath the surface - this does seem to be a problem, albeit rare, in most frogfishes. I would venture to say that it is more common in the pygmy frogfishes (Antennatus - note that this is different from the genus Antennarius :) ) often collected from Hawaii. Hearing about gas bubbles problems in fishes that have been well-established in their tanks makes me wonder if they're more prone to the 'gas bubble disease' as it is called in sea horses. Most are rather shallow (<90m), but they aren't built to go up and down in the water column, and their natural habitat is hidden within the benthic fauna (exception being H. histrio...perhaps this is the reason why H. histrio does exceptionally well in the aquarium comparatively). <Interesting speculation. I agree> Air bladders - most genera in Antennariidae have air bladders, but some do not. The ones people are usually concerned with in the aquarium hobby do have them. <Although diminished in relative size> Swallowing water/air - I know it happens, but that fish has got to under quite a bit of stress/sick/dying. I've pulled frogfishes out of the water, clipped a tiny bit of one of their fins (DNA), and put them back in without ever having a frogfish do this to me. Hardy fish - for up to a year, generally (depending on the species...certainly not Antennatus, which is lucky to make it past 30 days). Many people can't get them past this point and there appears to be no apparent reason why currently. They are not known to be ich prone (except Antennatus), but if the tank or tankmates are infected you can probably bet it'll become infected as well. Frogfish 'yawn' from time to time - nobody knows why. <I do think this is very much "stress related"... see them "yawn" more the closer and longer they're approached underwater> When purchasing a frogfish - if your readers get anything from this message - avoid Antennatus at all costs. It's probably the cutest little one of all the frogfishes, but it has major issues with longevity in captivity, if it even makes it that far. Unfortunately, I've never seen a frogfish labeled as anything but Antennarius, since it's the most common, so if you're going to purchase one try to identify it at least to genus. Antennarius and Lophiocharon are pretty much the only genera you're going to find in the U.S. that are suitable for aquariums. Cheers <Thank you very much for this valuable input. Will post/share. Bob Fenner>

Commerson's Frogfish with internal mouth mass -- 10/04/07 Dear Wet Web Media, <Tina> I have just purchased a Commerson's Frogfish that is about 5' in length. I have noticed when he opens his mouth, that he seems to have small raised white and black lumps or masses inside. Is this normal? <Mmm, no... Quite often, when approached, or otherwise apparently "over" stressed, Anglers, Scorpaeniform fishes and others will "yawn"... so have looked into quite a fews' maws... No such observation> If not, what could it be and what can be done about it? <Don't know... good care in general...> Thanks for your help. Best Regards, Tina <Bob Fenner>

Angler Lifespan   2/20/07 Bob, <Dale> I saw you at last years New Wave.. DFWMAS (Dallas/Fort Worth). You were certainly the most entertaining speaker. <Heee! I like that euphemism!> I'm awaiting the arrival of hopefully either A. pictus or A. striatus at a couple of LFS's I asked to order me one. I have read recently that the lifespan of Anglers in the home aquarium are short, and to consider a few months "success". What should I consider the average lifespan of an Angler? <Mmm, have known some folks, aquariums to keep for several years... Can/do grow VERY quickly given a bunch (too much, too frequent) feeding... and related circumstances do way-too-often lead to their early demise... but aren't short lived> If he's small enough he'll stay in a 75 community for the next several weeks until the 60 gallon is ready for him alone. <I see...> I just lost my first octopus, O. mercatoris, after 4 months, not knowing how old/young it could have been. <These species are indeed short-lived> Considering that species only lives an average 6-8 months I thought that was "successful" with it. I don't care to spend my effort and money on an animal that is destined to be short lived at this time. Dale Tyler <Do make it known how your Angler is faring. Bob Fenner>

Angler feeding, behavior   2/1/06 Hi, I have some questions about anglers. I've had a small angler (Antennarius pictus, as best I can tell) in a species-only for about 5 months now. He's been doing well, really enjoys eating ghost shrimp and guppies (he initially took silversides on a feeding stick but seems to have wised up and gotten picky again). That's actually the first question. I know it's generally recommended that one not use freshwater feeder organisms for SW fish, but in my research I've read that guppies are ok. Is there anything better to feed an angler? <Mmm, clean marine fishes... live or frozen/defrosted, wiggled...> Next, the real issue I'm wondering about. When I bought him, he was jet black with little white warty lumps (friends even thought it was ick but it wasn't). In the ensuing time, he's changed completely. He's now mottled light brown with small eyespot-like designs. <Yep... do change to match local conditions... camouflage...> His behavior hasn't changed at all, he's still spry, reactive and hungry and readily deploys his pole. I'm wondering, is this a typical change or is it something to be concerned about? <The former> I don't know the extent or purpose of anglers' camo ability. Now, his environment consists of white LS, a few small bits of LR, and two fake perches: a small green Turbinaria-like thing and a little brown rocky outcropping that he sits behind. Any causes for concern? Any other related info you might recommend for his care? I definitely love tackling the unusual fish, but want to give him as much TLC as possible...hideous toad though he may be. Best, Alex <Great aquarium fishes... Bob Fenner>

Black Giant Frogfish (Commerson's Anglerfish) Hi All, Is it possible for the   giant black frogfish to change color to red?  I have read articles regarding this species that say they frequently change their colors to camouflage themselves to blend into their surroundings .  Does that mean they can make such a drastic change? <Not drastic. Likely takes a few months. Do "come in" a variety of colors depending on their living circumstances> For example:  if the black giant frogfish is placed in a tank with red sponge and colored corals, will it most likely change to this color?  Is the Black Giant Frogfish different from the red? Thanks for the info. <Same species. Bob Fenner> Kelly Re: Black Giant Frogfish (Commerson's Anglerfish) Hi Bob, It's good to hear from you.  I did end up getting the Titan Triggerfish from the Marine Center, he is thriving and quite entertaining.    <Ah, good. Titans in many ways> Will a giant black frogfish change its color to red over time if placed in an aquarium with red sponge? <Possibly. I do think this happens more readily in the wild. Bob Fenner> Kelly

Growth rates of Frogfishes Dear Crew: How fast does a painted frogfish grow?  I have one that is 2 1/2 inches and can hardly wait to see him grow up:)  He's a real beaut.......here's a pic to make you smile:) <Very nice, and very quickly. Really amazing how fast these fishes (antennariids) can grow given large quantities of food. Bob Fenner> Janey

Re: How big? Dear Crew: How large does a painted frogfish get?  In Scott Michael's Marine Fishes book he says, 3.9 inches, same as the warty frogfish in size.  In Reef Fishes, Volume 1 it says 9.4 inches.  What is the correct size? TIA Janey <More like the second than the first value. Bob Fenner>

Puffed up Anglerfish - 12/27/03 Hi a have a 72 gallon aquarium which has a large lionfish a large yellow tang and a striated anglerfish.  I have had the anglerfish for about 2 months and feed him a cube of reef formula 2 every other day or so. I have seen him puff up twice in the past just like a porcupine puffer would... but today we came home and he was lying in the corner bottom upside down puffed up. He is breathing but will not expel anything yet. he's been like this at least 2 hours. Any idea what is going on? Anything I can do to help him? Your help would be greatly appreciated. <Sorry for the slow reply to this urgent question!  Please do report back how your fish is doing.  Frogfishes and anglers do have a habit of gulping air, but I don't know about water.  It does seem intuitive that they might, though.  If it has gulped air, this can be lethal, but I suspect that it will deal with water just fine.  Adam> thanks, Mike

Re: puffed up anglerfish 12/30/03 well he died a few hours later. <Sorry to hear.> he has puffed up before like that but only for 30 seconds or so. i have read that anglers puff up like that in a defense mechanism as puffers do. <The only reference I could find to this was that they occasionally gulp air in shipping and float to their death.  It makes sense that they might also gulp water.  I suspect that the stress that led to the gulping had more to do with the death than the gulping itself.> sometimes that anglerfish would swim up and down the glass and earlier that day i noticed him swimming up and down near my extremely large black Volitans lionfish. i think since he did die that maybe he swam into the lionfish and got stung...??? <Possible, but it sounds like your fish probably would not have made it anyway.> i had a really hard time finding that fish if i get another one i will keep it alone. <Probably a wise choice.  I also highly recommend obtaining it from a reputable dealer who will allow you to place it on hold for several days.  Adam> Mike Miller

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