The Goosefish Family – Lophiidae
The fish of the Goosefish or Lophiidae Family, which are also known as Monkfish and/or Anglerfish, are known in Mexico’s fishing areas as rapes pescadores. There are currently twenty-eight global members of the Goosefish Family of which three (one shallow water, one deep water, and one residing in both waters) reside in Mexican waters of the Pacific.
The Goosefish are medium-sized to fairly large fish measuring in excess of 100 cm (40 inches) in length. They are found in the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. They have a very large broad flattened head with a large wide mouth that bears long, sharp, and recurved teeth. Their top jaw is protractile and their lower jaw is projecting. Their bodies are wide at the front and taper towards the rear. Their first dorsal spine, located at the tip of the snout just above the mouth, has been modified into an angling apparatus (illicium) that bears a bulb-like lure (esca) used to attract prey. They also have two or 3 other isolated standalone dorsal spines, connected by a membrane and located above the pectoral fins, and a separate spinous dorsal fin with one to 3 spines located just in front of the soft dorsal fin further back on the body. Their gill openings extend from the front to the back of the pectoral fin base. Their pectoral fins are somewhat unique being long and “arm-like”. They have smooth skin and are devoid of scales.
The Goosefish are found on sandy and muddy bottoms at depths between 100 and 5,100 feet. They are sedimentary bottom dwellers that are “lie and wait” predators of small fish and crustaceans. They are oviparous with the females releasing their eggs which are then fertilized by the males. The planktonic larvae become pelagic as they mature and then hatch.
Several of the larger Goosefish, commonly known as Monkfish in northern Europe, are important commercial species. Their livers, known as “ankimo”, are considered a delicacy in Japan. The Goosefish date to the Lower Tertiary and Middle Eocene periods, twenty-three to sixty-six million years ago.
Two members of the Goosefish Family, both from the Pacific, are represented in the fish identification section of this website: