5 Types of Scary Looking Angler Fish

Wolffish lying on rocks
© Ufulum/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kayeleen Parsons

Updated: May 29, 2023

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Angler fish are among our oceans’ most intimidating and scary-looking fish species today. One glance at this ferocious predator will send shivers down your spine. With their large mouths bursting with significantly sharp teeth and deadly lures swaying overhead, it’s hardly surprising that these creatures are the stuff of nightmares. Despite living in absolute darkness, angler fish have remarkably discovered innovative methods to survive and thrive in a seemingly hostile environment.

Whether roaming through murky depths or lurking amongst coral reefs, the crafty angler fish can easily blend into its surroundings. This skilled predator has honed its natural camouflage skills to perfection by rendering itself nearly undetectable by predators and prey alike.

So, the next time you’re near the ocean and feeling brave, take a moment to consider the angler fish. While it may be scary to look at, it is one of the most fascinating creatures in the deep blue sea.

Black Seadevil

Black seadevil

Sporting black scales and needle-like teeth, they are sure to catch your eye.

©Personnel of NOAA Ship DELAWARE II / public domain, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Original / License

The black seadevil anglerfish, scientifically known as Melanocetus johnsonii, is a deep-sea fish species that frequent the mysterious and dimmed realms of the Pacific Ocean. Specifically located in the Monterey Bay region of California, these creatures are commonly spotted at depths ranging between 1500 to 3000 meters. These small fish with large heads and slim bodies make quite an impression. Sporting black scales and needle-like teeth, they are sure to catch your eye.

The most unique feature of the black seadevil is its distinctive approach to hunting. Its forehead consists of a dangling luminous lure attracting smaller fish and crustaceans. With lightning-quick reflexes, the anglerfish grabs its prey, using its jagged teeth to grip and devour them.

Fangtooth Angler

Fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta)- scary looking angler fish

Growing up to approximately 6 inches long, the fangtooth anglerfish is a small yet formidable predator.

©Brian Suda from Reykjavík, Ísland / CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Anoplogaster cornuta, commonly called the fangtooth anglerfish, is a marine creature found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Growing up to approximately 6 inches long, the fangtooth anglerfish is a small yet formidable predator. It is easily recognizable due to its large head and jaws, which are characterized by sharp pointed teeth.

Additionally, this creature’s body displays a black or dark brown hue, while its eyes are proportionally smaller when compared to the vastness of its head. Although these anglerfish have an intimidating appearance, they are not aggressive predators. They depend mainly on smaller fish and crustaceans as their primary diet, which they capture and swallow whole.

The Goosefish

Ugliest Animal - Monkfish- scary looking angler fish

Typically shades of muddy brown, some species may exhibit unique patterns or spots.

©Picture Partners/Shutterstock.com

Although some call it by its scientific name Lophius americanus, most people know the goosefish angler as the monkfish. This species inhabits the depths of both the Northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. With their sharp teeth and large mouths, these creatures have a distinctive appearance accentuated by the small, rough scales covering their skin. Typically shades of muddy brown, some species may exhibit unique patterns or spots.

The goosefish’s camouflage methods are intriguing, as it can blend seamlessly into its environment by burrowing into the sand on the seabed. Here, it waits for its next meal. Despite being considered less than desirable from a culinary standpoint across North America, goosefish remains a popular dish across Asia and Europe.

The Wolffish Angler

Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) at Saltstraumen, Norway- scary looking angler fish

The wolffish angler is a massive creature that can easily measure up to an impressive length of over 5 feet and tip the scales at over 50 pounds.

©Joern_k/Shutterstock.com

The family Anarhichadidae consists of the wolffish anglerfish, commonly known as the Atlantic wolffish, which are cold-water species dwelling in the North Atlantic Ocean. Their habitat spreads from Northern Europe to Eastern Canada. Their features include fang-like teeth with a protruding forehead. They also come in different colors of brownish gray with lighter shades of brown on their underbelly.

The wolffish angler is a massive creature that can easily measure up to an impressive length of over 5 feet and tip the scales at over 50 pounds. In addition, they can sustain themselves by feeding on species like fish, squid, and crustaceans. Furthermore, they exhibit an omnivorous tendency towards other fish species, such as crabs and sea urchins on the ocean floor.

Fanfin Seadevil

Caulophryne pelagica facing left

These fish have a long and slender body with a covering of small, spiky scales.

©Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Huddled in the murky depths of the North Atlantic Ocean, we find a curious creature known as the fanfin seadevil. This deep-sea anglerfish can live at depths up to 5,000 feet, where it is both dark and cold. This fish has developed remarkable adaptations, including its ability to produce light from biological structures called photophores.

These fish have long and slender bodies with a covering of small, spiky scales. The head is noticeably large and flattened, sporting a wide mouth and long sharp teeth. Their dorsal fin is a fan-like shape. It catches marine attention as it aids in luring prey towards its open jaws. In addition to their remarkable variety in size, these creatures display sexual dimorphism. Males exhibit significantly smaller physiques than females and possess specialized olfactory organs used to locate mates.


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About the Author

Kayeleen Parsons is a writer at A-Z Animals that thoroughly enjoys writing about animals of all types. She has a love for many animals, but her Cocker Spaniel dog holds a special place in her heart. In addition to being a writer, she's also an English teacher, sharing her knowledge to help her students become excellent in the language and literature. When she's not busy writing, Kayeleen enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family in her homeland of Cape Town.

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