angler or anglerfish, common name for a member of the order Lophiiformes, predacious fishes found worldwide; many are deep-sea dwellers. Anglers lure their prey with a long, wormlike appendage that extends forward and dangles over the mouth. When the lure is touched, the huge mouth closes automatically. The deep-sea anglers are fantastic fishes, many with luminescent lures, that live at depths of 200 to 600 fathoms. The various species grow from 6 to 40 in. (15–500 cm) long. The males of the family Ceratiidae (sea devils) parasitically attach themselves to the females and do not develop eyes and digestive organs. The sargassum fish, Histrio histrio, less than 8 in. (20 cm) long, has armlike pectoral fins and mottled coloration adapted to merge with the seaweed in which it lives; it is found in warm Atlantic waters, as are the 8- to 12-in. (20–30 cm) batfishes, named for their jointed pectoral fins. The monkfish, the largest angler, reaches 4 ft (120 cm) and 50 lb (23 kg) and is capable of swallowing fish as big as itself; it is valued as a food fish. Anglers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Lophiiformes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology