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Black Angler Fish

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Species group:

Other common names: Giant Frogfish, Commerson’s Frogfish

Scientific name: Antennarius commersoni

The basics:
The largest species that is regularly-available in the trade, the stunning Black Angler does well under proper care, but is not recommended to novice aquarists. The high prices it commands seem not to dissuade Angler enthusiasts, and its popularity continues to grow.

The Black Angler ranges from the shores of eastern Africa through the Indo-Pacific to western Australia. It inhabits rocky ledges, bays and coral reefs, and will also take up residence around docks and jetties it camouflaging sponges are present.

Appearance / health:
Often a stunning jet-black in color, this ambush predator can also vary its color through many shades of red, white, brown, yellow, and purple. Prey is lured within reach by a uniquely-modified dorsal fin spine known as the illicium. Adults reach a very impressive 30 cm (12 in) in length.

Because they consume such large prey, Anglers produce a good deal of waste. Ammonia levels will rise to dangerous levels unless filtration is excellent and water changes are performed regularly. Other potential problems include attacks on the fins and fishing lure by triggerfish, puffers, and other aggressive carnivores.

Behavior / temperament:
Black Anglers are largely sedentary, lying in wait until a meal comes within reach. They may be stressed by large, active fish unless provided plenty of room, and will consume fishes and invertebrates nearly equal to their own size.

Housing:
The Black Angler requires a well-filtered and cycled 284 liter (75 gal) or larger aquarium that is provisioned with a thin layer of sand. Powerful filtration is essential, and a protein skimmer is advisable. Anglers will not fare well in bare tanks. Rock and coral caves and ledges are favored as hunting sites and retreats.

The Black Angler should be maintained at 22-26.6 C (72-80 F), a specific gravity (salinity) level of 1.020-1.025, and pH 8-8.4.

Diet:
Newly-acquired individuals often refuse all but live grass /mud shrimp and minnows. In time, most pets can be weaned to non-living foods. The diet should be varied, and include whole shrimps, silversides and small crabs, along with chopped clams, mussels, scallops, and other marine invertebrates.

Breeding:
Most Anglers produce 50,000-180,000+ eggs that float about in a gelatinous mass for several weeks. The minute larvae have equally tiny fishing lures, and some are thought to mimic toxic flatworms. Parental care is provided by some Angler species. Captive breeding has not been well-studied.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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