F is for Frogfish

Another unique small fish in appearance is the frogfish. This fish has a body reminiscent of a frog and exists in many colors: red, pink; orange, yellow, green and tan; frequently they have dark spots all over their body. Frogfish can change colors and shades to blend in with their background. The bodies are stocky with a loose appearing, prickly covering. The pectoral fins are almost limb-like with a joint much like an elbow. They can also look like sargassum weed and sponges. When stationary, frogfish are difficult to see due to this blending with the background. Frogfish do not often swim; they walk or propel themselves by taking water in through their mouth and then shooting it out through their small gill openings. They are usually 21/2-5 inches long with a maximum length of 8 inches.

Frogfish most often inhabit reefs,. sitting on coral and sponges. Some species will inhabit sandy bottoms.

Frogfish eat small fish and crustaceans. However, they do not just await prey, they fish for prey. Their r' dorsal spine is moveable and acts like a fishing rod with a lure at the end. This spine is different lengths for different species and may be striped or unstripped. The lure is frequently shaped like a worm, shrimp or small fish and is moved in a particular pattern. Some frogfish excrete a chemical substance that also attracts prey. The movement of the lure attracts prey to the frogfish, who then capture and eat it. Frogfish suck in their prey whole in a single fast motion, estimated by some to be as fast as 6 thousandths of a second. Their oral cavity increases up to 12 times its size when feeding; this facilitates the sucking pressure to take in the prey and allows the frogfish to eat animals larger than its own size.

When spawning, the female frogfish fills up inside with eggs. When she is full, the female becomes buoyant with her tail up. The male then follows the female who nudges her in the abdomen. Once they reach the sea surface, spawning occurs. Thousands of eggs are released into a group that drifts for a few days prior to sinking to the bottom where they hatch. Juveniles do look much like adults, just much smaller.

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