The Striped Anglerfish (Antennarius striatus) is a very unusual looking fish and belongs to the Anglerfish family Antennaridae. Some divers believe they are incredibly ugly whilst others consider them to be cute! No matter what you think of their appearance; the discovery of an Anglerfish is always a highlight of any dive. The Striped Anglerfish is one of my favourite species and is always a good subject for taking photos.
Anglerfishes are unique in having a third dorsal fin that is enlarged and usually their first dorsal fin is modified to serve as a luring tool to capture prey. The lure consists of a 'stalk' known as the "illicium" and a 'bait' on the end is known as the "esca". The Anglerfish uses this lure to attract prey such as small fish. These fish see the lure, which may look like a worm, invertebrate or tiny fish and as the prey swims in to grab the bait the Anglerfish strikes with lightning speed. The strike of the Anglerfish is one of the fastest movements recorded in the ocean. The Striped Anglerfish is known to feed predominantly on other fish species and has also been known to eat syngnathids (seahorses and pipefish).
The Striped Anglerfish can be found throughout the tropical waters of the world, including the Indo-Pacific region. It is distributed throughout Australia's warmer/tropical waters from Sydney in New South Wales around the northern coastline to Shark Bay in Western Australia. It is generally found in shallow waters but can also be found in waters deeper than 200 metres. They are generally found in areas that have good sponge growth as they hide amongst the sponges to ambush their prey and remain hidden from predators. Divers will often swim over an Anglerfish and not even notice it as a result of their excellent camouflage.
The Striped Anglerfish varies greatly in colour as they can be white, yellow, orange, black, grey or brown. Their colour will generally match the colour of surrounding sponges and the images on this page indicate their colour variations. In Port Stephens it has been found that juvenile Striped Anglerfish are yellow in colour and sometimes black or white while the larger adults are normally orange, brown or grey. The Striped Anglerfish grows to a maximum length of approximately 20cm.
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