Goosefish

Goosefish

The goosefish has been described as mostly mouth with a tail attached. A member of the Lophiidae family of deep-sea anglerfish, this ugly, bottom-dwelling species of temperate waters is not a targeted gamefish but is occasionally caught by deep-water bottom anglers. More than two dozen species of anglerfish exist worldwide, with the American goosefish the largest among them.

Identification

The American goosefish is dark brown, with a mottling of dark spots and blotches. It has almost armlike pectoral fins located about midway in its greatly flattened body. Small gill openings are just behind them. The head is extremely large for its body size, and the mouth is cavernous, filled with sharp, curved teeth and opening upward.

On the tip of the first spine is a flap of flesh that serves as a lure for attracting small fish within grasping range of the mouth. If the prey comes close enough, the goosefish opens its huge mouth and sucks its victim inside.


Size/Age

The growth rate is fairly rapid and similar for both sexes up to about age 4, when they are approximately 19 inches long. After this, females grow a bit more rapidly and seem to live longer, about 12 years, growing to slightly more than 39 inches. Their maximum weight is 50 pounds, and the all-tackle world record is 49 pounds, 12 ounces.

Spawning behavior

Sexual maturity occurs between ages 3 and 4. Spawning takes place from spring through early autumn, depending on latitude. Females lay a nonadhesive, buoyant mucoid egg raft, or veil, which can be as large as 39 feet long and 5 feet wide.

Food

The carnivorous and rapacious goosefish eats a wide array of fish, some nearly as large as itself, as well as assorted crustaceans and squid.

Other Names

American goosefish, anglerfish, monkfish, lotte, bellyfish, frogfish, sea devil, American angler; French: baudroie d’Amerique; Spanish: rape americano.

Distribution

This species ranges from the Grand Banks and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. A similar but smaller species, the blackfin goosefish (L. gastrophysus), occurs in deeper waters from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and south to Argentina.

Habitat

Individuals are found from inshore areas to depths exceeding 435 fathoms. Highest concentrations occur between 38 and 55 fathoms and in deeper water at about 100 fathoms. Seasonal migrations occur, apparently related to spawning and food availability.
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