Blue Zoo: Commerson’s Frogfish
Featuring one amazing marine animal per week.
All photos by Shmulik Blum.
Commerson’s frogfish, also known as the giant frogfish, (Antennarius commerson) has a wide range, throughout the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans and in the Red Sea. They’re usually found on reefs down to about 30m (100ft) but may sometimes be seen in deeper water.
They are one of the largest species of frogfish, growing up to 38cm (15in), and come in a very wide range of colors. They are often seen sitting somewhere in the current on top of a sponge, and frequently they are camouflaged to look like one. They can, over time, change their color and texture in order to camouflage in different environments.
Black and orange Commerson's frogfish on the deep reefs of Cocos Island.
Like all frogfish, Commerson’s is a type of anglerfish (and in some places it would just be called an anglerfish, not a frogfish). Anglerfish are bony fish that usually have a growth on their foreheads that is used to lure in prey. Frogfish are mostly benthic animals – they tend to sit on a solid surface rather than swim, and they can squat or “walk” using their modified fins as legs.
Frogfish usually feed on smaller fish and can sit extremely still, camouflaged and lying in wait for prey to come by. Sometimes a frogfisy may wriggle its lure or move its body to resemble whatever it is camouflaged as. When the meal approaches close enough, the frogfish rapidly open its large mouth, creating a vacuum that sucks the prey in. The attack is over in six milliseconds! Frogfish can also expand their mouths and stomachs large enough to swallow prey much bigger than they are.