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Indonesia Underwater: Anglerfishes, Frogfishes

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Related FAQs: Indonesian Biotopes

Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com

Hey Big Boy, Gulp!

Angler and/or Frogfishes, Family Antennariidae:

I have never been to a place where there were so many species and individual Frogfishes than Indonesia as a country. All told there are some fourteen species to be found here, mainly in mucky and sandy/mud settings, near sponges that they mimic as camouflage principally. Easily approached (once found!), make sure your camera is focused on the specimen's heads and eyes turned toward you.

Antennarius commerson (Latreille 1804), the Giant or Commerson's Anglerfish. At right a ten incher in N. Sulawesi. Below (black) one incher, caught in Hawai'i. A yellow one at Elmer's in Pittsburgh, PA. Others from N. Sulawesi To 13 inches in length. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Hawai'i. Occurs in nearly all colors, patterns (w/ the exception of blue!) matching sponges they're found in association with. Also often identified under the pseudonym A. moluccensis. Distinguished from other similar looking Anglers (e.g. A. pictus) by having a greater number of fin rays: anal (typically 8), dorsal (13), and pectoral (11). 

Antennarius hispidus (Bloch & Schneider 1801), the Hairy or Shaggy Anglerfish. Indo-Pacific; particularly Malaysia, Indonesia. To eight inches in length. Coastal bays near camouflaging sponges. Occur in oranges, tans, yellows. N. Sulawesi images. You can tell this species apart from the similar A. striatus by its pom-pom like esca.

Antennarius maculatus (Desjardin's 1840), the Clown Anglerfish. Indo-Pacific. To four inches in length. Often seen out in the open, especially when small, apparently mimicking toxic nudibranchs. Most are white with orange or red mottling, but many colors exist. Have prominent illicia ("fishing poles" that resemble small fishes. N. Sulawesi pix of  half, full and one and a half inch individuals.

Antennarius pictus (Shaw & Nodder 1794), the Painted Anglerfish. Indo-Pacific. Principally imported from Indonesia and the Philippines. To 16 cm. overall length. Comes in all colors, and mottled, matching with local decor. Typically found amongst sponges, rock near the bottom or on the mud/muck. Below, N. Sulawesi images of some of the many color and marking varieties of this species (or multi-species complex). Distinguished by bony part of "fishing rod" being about twice the length of second dorsal spine and "lure" being an elongated and flat tuft.
Antennarius striatus, Striated Frogfish. Tropical West Atlantic and Indo-Pacific; South Africa to Japan and New Zealand, in mud or sand bottoms, often associated with sponges. To seven inches. Aquarium and N. Sulawesi photos. Distinguished from the similar appearing A. hispidus by its worm-like esca. Many pseudonyms (28) exist for this species, including A. scaber. Males with more tufts/camouflage than females. 

Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758), the Sargassum Anglerfish, or if it were up to me, "The Incredible Eater Upper"... To only 13 cm. but able to eat most any animal near its length. Known from all tropical oceans, typically found "floating" in kelp canopies or bits that are broken off. Aquarium photos, first by RMF, second by Mike Giangrasso. 

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