What Do Frogfish Eat?

Frogfish, like other angler fish, come in a variety of colors.
Frogfish, like other angler fish, come in a variety of colors. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Frogfish are marine angler fish that live in warm, salt waters, like those of the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Red Sea. Known for their ability to slowly "crawl" around their reef habitats using hinge-jointed pectoral fins, these creatures are excellent models of how animals grow and adapt to their environments. Frogfish camouflage themselves so that they resemble sponges, rocks or poisonous invertebrates like sea slugs. They are excellent survivors and even better "ambush" hunters.


Frogfish generally live in lagoons, tidepools, and shallow coral reefs. Hiding among the coral, rocks or vegetation, they feed on whatever fish or small crustaceans cross their paths. Frogfish have also been known to eat other frogfish.


Although some frogfish are no more than 1.7 inches long, these animals are fully capable of not only swallowing their prey whole, but, with the help of their expanding stomachs, also able to swallow prey longer than their own bodies. A frogfish attracts and snags fish with the use of an illicium, a rod-and-lure-type spine that protrudes from the animal's forehead and dangles over its mouth. Once the prey approaches and attempts to bite on the tip of the illicium, the frogfish quickly opens its mouth wide and sucks in the animal. Because frogfish don't have teeth, the chemicals in their digestive track do most of the work of breaking down their prey.

Introduction to Aquariums

While fascinating and beautiful, frogfish are not recommended for those new to keeping saltwater aquariums. However, after purchasing your first frogfish, you can catch your new pet's attention with the use of small saltwater feeder shrimp or feeder fish. Don't be alarmed if it takes a while for your frogfish to begin eating; these patient animals are careful and sometimes secretive eaters, working hard not to give themselves away to their prey.

Concerns for Fish Safety

Because frogfish instinctively eat almost anything that pursues their lures, it can be unsafe to keep your frogfish in an aquarium with other animals. It is not uncommon for frogfish to attempt to eat creatures even twice their own size, so keep your frogfish isolated to prevent other members of your aquarium family from going missing.

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