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most of us, outside of photos in books or on
the Internet, our first encounter with a Frogfish
takes place in our local aquarium store. Unless
you spotted their price tag, it is unlikely
you even spotted the Frogfish the first time
you peeked into the dealer's aquarium. Perhaps
a store employee had to point it out to you,
or perhaps its camouflage didn't match the aquarium's
décor and it stood out like a sore thumb.
Regardless of how you saw it, chances are good
that you sat there and stared in wonder for
a good long while, before finding your child
or significant other to point it out to as well.
can't say I know anyone who wouldn't be mesmerized
by the sight of a Frogfish - once he figured
out what it was. They are so strange and abnormal
looking that they typically require minute-long
gazes, yet they are as simple and complete as
a highly effective and efficient predator can
be. They do not need to possess razor-sharp
teeth or be able to swim 70mph. Capturing prey
is pretty simple for them - with camouflage
as detailed in design and application as Ghost
Pipefish, they just sit and wait. Sit and wait.
Sit and wait.
with their at-ease predatory lifestyle is a
unique first dorsal spine, which acts a fishing
rod with an attached lure. With more skill than
a retired ice-fisherman, a Frogfish dangles,
jigs and teases small fish within its vicinity
to come within striking distance. With curiosity
the prey comes closer to inspect the Frogfish's
esca, or lure, until the fateful
moment when the Frogfish springs from its modified
pectoral fins to swallow the prey whole.
hours, and perhaps even days, a Frogfish sits
motionless, waiting for prey to happen by. In
an aquarium this is perhaps a bit of an annoyance
at times. "Doesn't it do anything?"
your less than enthralled houseguest will inquire,
followed by, "It is," as your reply.
Assuming your houseguest is less knowledgeable
than your run-of-the-mill fish geek, this is
promptly followed by an, "Oh," another
moment or two of gazing into the tank, then
a change of subject.
us geeks (and you know who you are) can stare
in amazement at this motionless piece of prey-capturing
sponge for hours on end. If we expect to see
it move, we may just have to.
more information, check out Zubi's
Text by Henry
C. Schultz III. Photos by Reef Central members.
A special thanks goes out to Cheri Phillips
for her assistance on this project.
Reefkeeping Magazine Reef Central, LLC-Copyright © 2008