We need to talk about frogfish

By Bec Crew | January 29, 2018

There’s no denying that Nemo’s very cute, but have you seen a frogfish lately?

Contributor

Bec Crew

Becky Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.

THAT SAD, bulldog face. Those staunch, little arms. And did we mention the babies are smaller than your fingernail?

Frogfish are members of the anglerfish family Antennariidae, not to be confused with the other frogfish family Batrachoididae, which are also referred to as toadfish. (This wouldn’t be nearly so confusing if both families didn’t look exactly like grumpy amphibians.)

Frogfish are also called sea mice, which I think we can all agree is the superior name anyway.

Regardless of what we call them, frogfish are amazing. They can change colour to blend in with their surroundings, and they allow themselves to be covered in algae so they can become almost invisible to predators and prey.

And when they’re ready to strike, they can do so in 6 milliseconds flat. To put that into perspective, the reaction time for most humans is more than 200 milliseconds, so if you’re unlucky enough to be on the frogfish menu, all we can say is… make every day count.

Frogfish are found all around the coast of Australia where the water is temperate, and one of the most charismatic species is the warty (or clown) frogfish (Antennarius maculatus),.

It can take on hues of yellow, pink, red, brown, and cream, and can even shift its colouring to white to blend in with coral bleaching events.

Our favourite is the red and cream colouration, because look at it: