Anglerfish, the common name for an order of marine fish, as well as for many species of the order. Anglerfish range in length from three inches (7.5 cm) to about four feet (120 cm), depending on the species and sex. They are usually found in temperate and tropical seas at depths of up to 3,300 feet (1,000 m). Most species of anglerfish have a fleshy movable structure growing from the top of the head, resembling a fishing pole. The free end of this growth serves as a lure to attract prey. In some species the lure contains luminescent bacteria that help the fish locate prey by illuminating the water.

Deep-sea anglerfishDeep-sea anglerfish can eat fish twice their own size.

Included in the anglerfish order are the monkfish, goosefish, batfish, deep-sea anglerfish, and common anglerfish. Deep-sea anglerfish, which are usually three to four inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in length, sometimes eat fish twice their own size. Only the female of the deep-sea anglerfish has the characteristic "fishing pole." The male, which is much smaller than the female, attaches itself to the body of the female and remains there throughout its life.

The common anglerfish, also known as the frogfish, lives in shallow water off the coast of Europe. It is about five feet (150 cm) long and weighs up to 45 pounds (20 kg). It is a drab tannish-brown color and blends in with the sand. It stalks its prey—small sharks, squid, and turtles—by crawling on its arm-like fins. It occasionally catches a diving bird, such as a cormorant or a gull, that comes too close underwater. The common anglerfish is an important food fish in Europe.

Which Fish Have Their Own Fishing Rods?

Anglerfish do! Each anglerfish, like the longlure frogfish, has a long “rod” that is actually a fin ray. The fin ray looks like a worm. An anglerfish uses the fin ray to “fish” for other fish.

An anglerfish sits on the sea floor, looking like its surroundings. The only part of its body that other fish often notice is the fin ray. The anglerfish dangles the ray in front of its mouth. When another fish sees the ray, it swims closer and the anglerfish gobbles it up.

Some kinds of anglerfish can fish for other fish even in the dark. That’s because their fin rays make their own light. The light attracts victims, and the anglerfish get a snack in the dark.

Anglerfish make up the order Lophiiformes. Two species of deep-sea anglerfish are Linophryne argyresca of the family Linophrynidae and Lasiognathus saccostoma of the family Oneirodidae. The common anglerfish is Lophius piscatorius of the family Lophiidae.