Frogfishes on - Anglerfische auf Frogfishes on - Anglerfische auf


Identification Key Frogfishes

Subtropical and sub-temperate Australia

Map of Australia with average anual temperatures


Map according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Tropical Australia: zone with annual water temperatures 24°C and above.
Subtropical Australia incl. northern New Zealand: zone with annual water temperatures 20° to 24°C
Sub-temperate Australia: zone with annual water temperatures 12°-16°C. Summer temperatures up to 22 to 24°C possible




Map of the bioregions of Australia

map of Australia with tropical, subtropical and temperate zones / Karte von Australien mit tropischem, subtropischen und gemässigten Klimazonen



Several very remarkable frogfish species live in Subtropical Australia (the Great Australian Bight between Perth and Melbourne), most of them are endemic (=only exist in this area and nowhere else). Why these different species? Endemic species appear when they are separated and isolated from species related to them (for example on islands like the Galapagos). During the Pleistocene ice age sea levels fell and the supercontinent Sahul was formed with land bridging the gap between Australia and Tasmania (see animation) and thus isolating the area to the west. Most of these species belong to the subfamily Histiophryninae.

Subtropical Australia has cold water and here some frogfish species show very interesting behavior, for example parental care for their eggs.

Unfortunately most of these species are rarely found by divers and so only few photos exist of them. Please write to me if you have a photo of one of the species listed here.

Occurence of frogfish species

Perth (subtropical): Allenichthys glauerti, Antennatus nummifer, Histiophryne cryptacanthus, Phyllophryne scortea, Rhycherus gloveri

Adelaide (sub-temperate): Allenichthys glauerti, Echinophryne crassispina, Echinophryne reynoldsi, Histiophryne bougainvilli, Histiophryne cryptacanthus, Phyllophryne scortea, Rhycherus filamentosus, Rhycherus gloveri

Melbourne (sub-temperate): Echinophryne crassispina, Echinophryne mitchelli, Echinophryne reynoldsi, Histiophryne bougainvilli, Histiophryne cryptacanthus, Kuiterichthys furcipilis, Phyllophryne scortea, Rhycherus filamentosus

Tasmania (sub-temperate): Echinophryne crassispina, Echinophryne mitchelli, Kuiterichthys furcipilis, Phyllophryne scortea

Sydney (subtropical): Antennatus nummifer, Histiophryne bougainvilli, Kuiterichthys furcipilis, Kuiterichthys pietschi, Porophryne erythrodactylus

Anglerfish-Species of subtropical and sub-temperate Australia

Allenichthys glauerti is found rarely and lives in deep waters.

Allenichthys glauerti (Glauert's Frogfish)

Allenichthys glauerti - Glauert's Frogfish - Glauert Anglerfisch



Antennatus nummifer lives in the warmer water towards the north.

Antennatus nummifer (Spotfin frogfish)

        nummifer - Spotfin frogfish (coinbearing frogfish, whitefingered frogfish) - Rückenfleck Anglerfisch



        nummifer - Spotfin frogfish (coinbearing frogfish, whitefingered frogfish) - Rückenfleck Anglerfisch

The three species of Echinophryne only differ in the shape of the lure and the length of the dermal spinules and slightly in therri habitat and range. Echinophryne mitchelli differs from the other species, that it's skin is yellowish to green. Both Echinophryne mitchelli and Echinophryne crassispina have skin prickly with dermal spinules while Echinophryne reynoldsi has smaller dermal spinules and spots.

Echinophryne crassispina (Prickly Frogfish)

Echinophryne crassispina - Prickly Frogfish - "Stachliger" Anglerfisch



Echinophryne crassispina - Prickly Frogfish -

Echinophryne mitchelli (Mitchell's Frogfish or Long-spined anglerfish)

Echinophryne mitchelli - Mitchell's Frogfish (Long-spined anglerfish) - Mitchell's Anglerfisch



creme frogfish-Anglerfischgreen / grün frogfish-Anglerfisch olive / oliv frogfish-Anglerfisch

Echinophryne reynoldsi (Reynold's Frogfish, Sponge Anglerfish)

Echinophryne reynoldsi - Reynolds' Frogfish - Reynold's Anglerfisch



Echinophryne reynoldsi - Reynolds' Frogfish - Reynold's Anglerfisch

The two species of Histiophryne are very difficult to differ. If you see one of the more unusual colorings (small close-set red ocelli with a white margin) it is Histiophryne cryptacanthus.

Histiophryne bougainvilli (Bougainville's Frogfish or Smooth Angler)

Histiophryne bougainvilli - Bougainville's Frogfish - Bougainville's Anglerfisch



Histiophryne cryptacanthus (Cryptic Frogfish)

Histiophryne cryptacanthus (Cryptic Frogfish / Rodless frogfish - "Verborgener" Anglerfisch)



Histiophryne cryptacanthus - Cryptic Frogfish -

This frogfish is very uncommon and has a very distinct look from other anglerfishes in this area - a large ocelli and a very thin second dorsal spine. Can only be confused with Kuiterichthys pietschi, but this frogfish doesn't have a ocellus and is only found in New South Wales.

Kuiterichthys furcipilis (Rough Frogfish)

Kuiterichthys furcipilis - Rough Frogfish - Rauer Anglerfisch



Kuiterichthys pietschi (Pietsch's Frogfish - Pietsch's Anglerfisch)

Kuiterichthys pietschi - Pietsch's frogfish - Pietsch's Anglerfisch



Kuiterichthys pietschi - Pietsch's frogfish - Pietsch's Anglerfisch

The smooth frogfish has very smooth skin nearly without any dermal spinules. It is also one of the more colorful frogfishes in southern Australia

Phyllophryne scortea (Smooth Frogfish, White-spotted Anglerfish)

Phyllophryne scortea - Smooth Frogfish - Glatter Anglerfisch



Phyllophryne scortea - Smooth Frogfish - Glatter Anglerfisch

This frogfish species has only been found around Bare Island (close to Sydney). It is usually grey to white with a redish margin on the fins.

Porophryne erythrodactylus (Red Fingered Frogfish / Bare Island Frogfish)

Antennarius sp. - unknown Lembeh frogfish - unbekannter Lembeh-Anglerfisch



creme frogfish-Anglerfischwhite / weiss frogfish-Anglerfisch grya / grau frogfish-Anglerfisch grya / grau frogfish-Anglerfisch

The two species of Rhycherus both have a lot of skin appendages and skin flaps. They can only be told apart by the shape of their lure. R. gloveri is found in the western part of the Great Australian Bight, R. filamentosus in the middle and in the east of the Bay.

Rhycherus filamentosus (Tasseled Frogfish)

Rhycherus filamentosus - Tasseled Frogfish - Quasten Anglerfisch



Rhycherus filamentosus (Tasseled Frogfish - Quasten Anglerfisch)

Rhycherus gloveri (Glover's Frogfish)

Rhycherus gloveri - Glover's Frogfish - Glover's Anglerfisch



Rhycherus gloveri (Glover's Frogfish - Glover's Anglerfisch)

This identification key is only for species of the subfamily Antennariinae (frogfishes, family Antennariidae, suborder Antennarioidei) which are frogfishes living in tropical and Subtropical waters.
Please take note, that this is a simplified identification key. Ichthyologists use tables with the number of dorsal, anal and pectoral rays, the length of the illicium and other distinguishing characteristics for means of identification.

I identified all frogfishes (anglerfishes) to my best knowledge. Frogfishes are specially difficult to identify (see tips for identification) so mistakes are possible of course! Please write to me, if you have any questions. Latin names according to the newest scientific findings, ITIS Standard Report and Fishbase.

. Copyright Teresa Zubi