Angler & Frogfish Breeding/Spawning Overview

Angler & Frogfish Breeding/Spawning Overview

Postby MOFIB » Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:59 am

This overview is currently under construction.
Antennariidae - Anglers & Frogfish - Breeding, Mating, Spawning and Rearing Overview

1 - Species covered in this forum: - Some species included in this group.
Antennarius coccineus
Antennarius maculatus- Warty Anglerfish
Histrio histrio - Sargassumfish

For an overview of the Antennariidae, see ... &areacode=

2 – Common characteristics:
Provide base information on the group, focusing primarily on care needs (i.e. diets, sizes, whatever is relevant or important for a fish keeper working with this particular group)

For more basic information, visit -

3 – Reproduction:

3.1 – Sex determination:
Separate sexes; Some deep sea species have a 'parasitic' male, due to low population densities in the wild, sex change may be possible.

3.2 – Sexual organization:
Usually solitary, forming pairs by the time of reproduction.

3.3 – Sexing:
Usually females are larger then males (specially in deep sea species in which the male is parasitic and much smaller than the "host" female). Male Antennarius strigatus are said to have longer cutaneous appendages.

3.4 - Pairing / Setting Up Broodstock:
Provide basic techniques for establishing breeding pairs in captivity, if known.

3.5 – Courtship:
Courtship occurs by day.
Males chase the gravid and clumsy females by nudging them along and above the seafloor.

3.6 – Spawning:
Anglers and frogfishes are pelagic spawners of gelatinous rafts or ribbons that usually float. However some species are demersal and male exhibit somekind of parental care (p.e. Lophiocharon sp., Histiophryne sp.)

4 – Eggs:

4.1 – Size:
Histrio histrio - 600 x 700 um

4.2 – Quantity:
Antennarius nummifer - up to 48.800 eggs in a floating mass

4.3 – Characteristics
Include items like egg shape, color, are there oil droplets (and if so, how many), are the eggs boyant or do they

4.4 – Incubation period/Hatching temp:
List time and temp if applicable.

5 – Larvae:

5.1 – Size at hatching:
Antennarius avalonis - 2,2 mm
Histrio histrio - 1,4 mm
5.2 – Yolk sac present at hatch: Yes
5.3 – Mouth present at hatch: Yes/No
5.4 – Eyes developed at hatch: Yes/No

6 - Rearing:

6.1 - Breeding & Rearing Techniques
Brief synopsis / special notes of any rearing techniques available.

6.2 – Day at first feeding:
Histrio histrio - 5 - 6 days

6.3 - Starvation Time:
If known, include the time post-hatch that larval will live without feeding. This can often be found in larval studies where scientists do not feed the larvae, as well a accounts of failed larval rearing attempts.

6.4 – Feeding scheme:
First Foods, progression, whatever is appropriate based on current information and experiences. List any special techniques / timelines available.

6.5 – Age at meta:
Text Description as required...

7 – Species been reared successfully
Scientific name - followup with notes on individuals / companies successfully rearing. If only partial successes have been made, list those.

8 – References

8.1 - Articles

List any Articles/reference availabe in print.

8.2 - Web Content
List weblinks for online content
Description of link - (aka. the link)

8.3 - Books
List any books that contain "Breeding-Relevant" information to this group.

9 - Compiled By
Anderson Monteiro - aomont - aomont2 (at)
Last Update: November, 26 2007
User avatar
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:49 am

Re: Angler & Frogfish Breeding/Spawning Overview

Postby Agathos » Wed May 19, 2010 3:36 pm


Antennarioidei - Frogfish & Handfish - Breeding, Mating, Spawning and Rearing Overview

1 - Species covered in this forum:
The Antennarioidei is a suborder of the order Lophiiformes.

The 20 genera and approximately 63 extant species of Antennarioidei are distributed among four families:
Brachionichthyidae (Handfishes), containing five genera and 14 species (4, 5)
Lophichthyidae (Boschma's Frogfish), containing one species (6)
Tetrabrachiidae, containing two genera and two species (7)
Antennariidae (Frogfishes), containing 12 genera and approximately 46 extant species (7, 9).

Most information exists on species of the Antennariidae and this overview will hence focus largely on them.

For more information on the Antennariidae:, and
Selected references to literature on the topic can be found here:

2 – Common characteristics:
Species of the Antennariidae are characterized by the structure of the first dorsal-fin spine, placed near the tip of the snout and modified to serve as a luring apparatus for attracting prey (this they share with other families of the Lophiiformes, e.g. the Anglerfishes), pectoral fins modified for “walking” on the substrate, and gill openings narrowly constricted to form tube-like structures that open posteriorly behind the base of the pectoral fin used for jet-propulsive locomotion (1, 2).

Frogfishes squat on the bottom in shallow to moderately deep water, or as in the case of the single genus Histrio, clinging to floating sargassum (3). Despite their sedentary nature, all are carnivores that wait for smaller fishes or crustaceans to pass by, while they wriggle their bait to entice prey close (1). Several species resemble sponges and sea urchins (e.g., Astropyga radiata)(9).

Photo of frogfish by Jenny Huang.

Antennariids occur in all major tropical seas of the world except the Mediterranean, with some species extending into temperate waters (1).

3 – Reproduction:
Despite being quite common in the aquarium trade, reproduction among the Antennariidae is poorly understood (4, 10). Courtship and spawning behavior in aquaria have been reported for Antennarius striatus, A. hispidus, A. multiocellatus, H. histrio, and for a species said to be A. nummifer (see 1 for references).

3.1 – Sex determination:
Separate, stable sexes.

Some deep sea species have a 'parasitic' male, e.g. the deep-sea angler (Families Ceratiidae, Caulophrynidae, Photocorynidae, Linophrynidae and Melanocetidae) shows a very strange sexual dimorphism: The male specimen is very small and attaches itself to the body of the female. The teeth and the jaw recede and the blood circulating of the two animals become one. The male frogfish spends the rest of his life attached to the female, like a parasite (17).

3.2 – Sexual organization:
Usually solitary, forming pairs by the time of reproduction.

3.3 – Sexing:
Usually females are larger then males (specially in deep sea species in which the male is parasitic and much smaller than the "host" female). Male A. strigatus are said to have longer cutaneous appendages. Usually, the only way to separate the sexes is by gonad dissection.

3.4 – Courtship and spawning:
Reproductive modes within the Antennariidae are poorly understood. The production of egg rafts has been described for A. striatus, A. hispidus, H. histrio, and A. nummifer (see 1 for references).

The following video shows A. striatus (Striated Frogfish) courtship and spawning shortly after sunset at Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, Florida: .
In the video the male can be seen following the female closely while nudging her genital opening. At 0:15, they begin to swim upwards. An egg raft is expelled at 0:38. At this point the male began rolling vigorously, presumably ejaculating spermatozoa while spinning around the scrolls of the raft as it was being released. Presumably immediately before the last of the egg raft had been released, the female started rolling and twisting as well, freeing herself of the raft as the male departed. The female then swam away relatively quickly towards the bottom of the lake (1).

A similar video, although the female in does not roll or twist to rid herself of the egg raft, of A. multiocellatus (Longlure Frogfish) courtship and spawning taken by Ellen Muller in 2006 at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, can be seen below:

A video of a spawning pair of A. dorehensis in an aquarium ( ... wning.flv; courtesy of Tom Norman) shows a slightly different process. At the start of the video, the female is seen having lateral spasms with a small portion of the egg raft protruding outside out of her genital opening. The male closely follows the female at the bottom of the tank, until they start swimming towards the surface. Instead of spinning vigorously around the egg raft, the male does a quick flip near the egg raft as he presumably ejaculates spermatozoa (perhaps restricted by the confined space). (1).

In Rhycherus, females are usually surrounded by up to four males from which the female chooses a mate (13). The eggs are rapidly released, and the female fans them vigorously while the male releases sperm. The female then completely covers the eggs with her side while guarding them, presumably until they hatch (1).

4 – Eggs:
Early stages of egg and larval development have been documented for only three of Antennariidae species. These include nearly complete descriptions of egg and larval development (pre-metamorphosis) of A. striatus and H. histrio; and superficial descriptions have been made of the “scutatus” prejuvenile stage of A. radiosus (see 1 for references).

Eggs are spawned encapsulated within a nonadhesive, continuous, ribbon-like sheath of gelatinous mucus, often referred to as an “egg raft”. There have been reports of egg rafts resembling "perforated ballons" (see 1 for references and discussion). In Arnold's words: "It seems more certain now that there is at least a second structure of pelagic egg raft produced by antennariids, and that this variant is perhaps unique to at least some members of the A. nummifer group" (1).

Rhycherus filamentosus (Tasseled Frogfish) eggs, about 13 days after spawning. Photo taken by Rudie Kuiter.

4.1 – Size:
H. histrio - 600 x 700 um.
Lophiocharon trisignatus - 3.2 -3.6 mm in diameter (12).
Histiophryne bougainvilli - 2.9-4.2 mm in diameter (5, 12)
R. filamentosus - 5 mm in diameter (13).

4.2 – Quantity:
A. nummifer - up to 48.800 eggs.
L. trisignatus - ~ 650 eggs (12).
H. bougainvilli - 105-220 eggs (5, 12).
R. filamentosus - about 5000 (13).
A. striatus - 48.000 -288.000 eggs (15, 16)

4.3 – Parental care:
Parental care is found in a number of antennariid taxa, e.g. Histiophryne cryptacanthus, H. bougainvilli, H. psychedelica, Lophiocharon lithinostomus and L. trisignatus(as A. caudimaculatus) (1, 5, 12). The eggs of L. trisignatus are attached to the epidermal surface of the male until they hatch (4, 12). H. bougainvilli, H. cryptacanthus, and H. psychedelica also care for their offspring in a similar manner. However, instead of attachment to the body, Histiophryne carries its mass of eggs in a pocket formed by the body, pectoral, dorsal, and caudal fins, the latter wrapped tightly around them. The eggs are well hidden within the brood pouch, so it is unlikely that they would be used to attract prey (5, 12).

L. lithinostomus with a cluster of eggs. Photo by Ned DeLoach.

Echinophryne, Phyllophryne, and Rhycherus have all been photographed guarding a mass of eggs, often attempting to cover the eggs with one side of their bodies. Although it is unknown whether the female or the male guards the eggs of Echinophryne and Phyllophryne, there is some evidence that it is the females of Rhycherus that guard the nests (1).

E. crassispina guarding eggs. Photo by John Lewis.

4.4 – Incubation period/Hatching temp:
It has been observed that a female H. psychedelica carried eggs and abandoned them 10 days later with tiny juveniles being seen shortly thereafter in the immediate area. The date of spawning and the period of time the eggs were carried before the first observation is unknown (5).

The incubation period for R. filamentosus has been observed to be about 23 days (1).

5 – Larvae:
Detailed studies have been conducted on a couple of species that hatch as pelagic larvae -- A. striatus and H. histrio -- (14) but virtually no data exists for species that have benthic juveniles.

R. filamentosus larvae about 23 days after spawning. Photo by Rudie Kuiter.

5.1 – Size at hatching:
Antennarius avalonis - 2,2 mm
H. histrio - 1,4 mm

5.2 – Yolk sac present at hatch:
R. filamentosus: Yes.

6 - Rearing:

6.1 - Breeding & Rearing Techniques

6.2 – Day at first feeding:
Histrio histrio - 5-6 days

7 – Species been reared successfully:
Rhycherus filamentosus (1).

8 – References:
(1): Rachel J. Arnold, Master's Thesis, 2010
(2): Tolweb:
(3): Dooley, J. K. 1972. Fishes associated with the pelagic sargassum complex, with a discussion of the sargassum community. Contributions in Marine Science, 16:1-32.
(4): Pietsch, T. W., and D. B. Grobecker. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
(5): Pietsch, T. W., R. J. Arnold, and D. J. Hall. 2009a. A bizarre new species of frogfish of the genus Histiophryne (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. Copeia, 2009(1)37-45.
(6): Last, P. R., and D. C. Gledhill. 2009. A revision of the Australian handfishes (Lophiiformes: Brachionichthyidae), with descriptions of three new genera and nine new species. Zootaxa 2252:1-77.
(7): Pietsch, T. W. 1981. The osteology and relationships of the anglerfish genus Tetrabrachium, with comments on lophiiform classification. United States Fisheries Bulletin, 79(3):387-419.
(8): Pietsch, T. W., J. Johnson, and R. J. Arnold. 2009b. A new genus and species of the shallowwater anglerfish family Tetrabrachiidae (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennarioidei) from Australia and Indonesia. Copeia, 2009(3):483-493.
(9): Schneidewind, F. 2005. A frogfish (Antennarius sp.) as a mimic of sea urchins: a new form of mimicry in the family Antennariidae. Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology,10(1):23-28.
(10): Breder, C. M., and D. E. Rosen. 1966. Modes of Reproduction in Fishes. Natural History Press,Garden City, N.Y., 941 pp.
(11): Ray, C. 1961. Spawning behavior and egg raft morphology of the ocellated fringed frogfish, Antennarius nummifer (Cuvier). Copeia, 1961(2):230-31.
(12): Pietsch, T. W., and D. B. Grobecker. 1980. Parental care as an alternative reproductive mode in an antennariid anglerfish. Copeia, 1980(3):551-53.
(13): Kuiter, R. H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.
(14): Rasquin, P. 1958. Ovarian morphology and early embryology of the pediculate fishes Antennarius and Histrio. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History,114(4):331-71.
(15) Friese, U. E. 1973. Anglerfishes. Marine Aquarist, 4(5):29-36.
(16) Friese, U. E. 1974. Anglerfishes. Koolewong, 3(4):7-11.

9 - Compiled By:
Trond Erik Vee Aune
Last Update: June 20, 2010
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:38 pm

Re: Angler & Frogfish Breeding/Spawning Overview

Postby Agathos » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:49 am

I am finished with this now, I only need to ask for permission for a few of the images.
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:38 pm

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