16 Interesting Facts About The Wolffish

These are some of the most peculiar-looking fish in the ocean, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the wolffish.

1. The wolffish goes by a lot of different names

The wolffish is a peculiar and strange-looking type of fish that lives in the depths of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and that goes by a lot of names. They are perciform fish, an order of vertebrates that consists of 43% of all bony fish.

Some of the names they go by are seawolf, catfish, ocean catfish, devil fish, wolf eel, woof, leopard fish, and sea cat.

2. There are 3 types of wolffish

There are 3 distinctive types of wolffish, namely:

  • The spotted wolffish
  • The Atlantic wolffish
  • The Nothern Atlantic wolffish
the Atlantic wolffish
An Atlantic wolffish / Citron / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

3. They are part of the Anarhichadidae family

There are just two families, or genera, of wolffish:

  • Genus Anarhichas
  • Genus Anarrhichthys

These are both marine wolffish families. There’s also a freshwater family of wolffish called the “Erythrinidae” which lives in habitats of Costa Rica all the way south to Argentina.

freshwater wolffish
A freshwater wolffish / Source

4. There are 5 different species of wolffish

In these 2 familes of wolffish, there are 5 different species of wolffish that are recognized today:

  • Northern wolffish – Anarhichas denticulatus
  • Atlantic wolffish or sea wolf – Anarhichas lupus Linnaeus
  • Spotted wolffish – Anarhichas minor
  • Bering wolffish – Anarhichas orientalis
  • Wolf eel – Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Only the wolf eel is a member of the Genus Anarrhichthys. The 4 other species are members of the Genus Anarhichas.

5. They live in cold waters

One of the most remarkable facts about the wolffish is that they produce some sort of natural antifreeze which allows them to move easily in the cold waters they live in.

And yes, they do prefer the extremely cold waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans!

The wolffish can be found in waters that range from −1 to 11 °C (30 to 52 °F). This means that they live in nearly freezing water.

6. How deep do wolffish live?

Apart from living in extremely cold conditions, they also prefer to stay put in their area and dwell around the rocky ocean bottom. They can often be seen moving in and out of small caves or inside rock formations on the rocky ocean floor.

The depth they live in ranges from 20 to up to 600 meters (66 to 2,000 feet) deep. The cold weather in combination with the depth they live in makes it very unlikely that you’ll ever come across one of the creepy-looking fish!

7. Wolffish can become quite big

The largest species in the wolffish family is the wolf eel, a type of wolffish that lives in the North Pacific and is the only member of the Genus Anarrhichthys.

These fish can grow up to 2.4 meters (7 feet 10 inches) in length and weigh a whopping 18.4 kilos (41 lbs)!

wolf eel
Wolf eel / Wiki Commons

8. They come in multiple colors

The wolffish doesn’t come in one particular color but can appear in a variety of colors. Their color ranges from olive green to purplish brown, and even blue or grey.

This wide variety of colors is a feature of all the wolffish species.

A blue wolffish / Wiki Commons

9. How did the wolffish get its name?

One of the most distinctive features in terms of its appearance is its extremely sharp teeth. Especially the Atlantic wolffish has distinguishable teeth in the wolffish family which quite frankly look extremely scary.

The wolffish possesses 4 to 6 fang-like teeth which are extremely sharp. Behind these sharp weapons, they have 3 rows of grinding teeth as well.

The wolffish isn’t related to real wolves in any way, but they do possess the same type of teeth which gave them their name.

Wolffish teeth
Teeth of the wolffish / Source

10. What do wolffish eat?

One of the most interesting facts about the wolffish is that regardless of having such killer teeth, they don’t use them to attack and eat other fish.

The diet of wolffish consists mainly of clams, echinoderms, crustaceans, and mollusks, which they can easily crush with their sharp teeth and grind with the 3 rows of grinding teeth they possess.

11. The wolffish plays an important in marine ecosystems

One of the main prey of the wolffish is sea urchins and green crabs. In fact, they are one of the main predators of these ocean creatures.

Because of this, they play an important role in keeping the population of sea urchins and green crabs low, something that is needed to avoid extreme growth in their populations.

In that sense, the wolffish plays an important role in keeping its population in check and keeping the marine environment they live in healthy.

What does the woffish eat
The wolffish eats sea urchins and green crabs. / Source

12. The wolffish has a funny name in Iceland

Who would have thought that a fish that loves freezing temperatures would live along the coasts of Iceland?

Well, they do, and they aren’t called wolffish in this country.

In Iceland, the wolffish goes by the name of “steinbítur,” which literally translates to “stone eater.” This is clearly a reference to the fact that they can easily crush the shells of the poor crustaceans which they devour!

wolffish facts
The stone eater / Nilfanion / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

13. Wolffish don’t have pelvic fins

The wolffish can be distinguished from many other fish because of their lack of a pelvic fin, which is normally used to steer so to speak while swimming.

They do have a large dorsal fin that extends their entire backs and a similar but smaller fin at the bottom which extends all the way to their caudal fin.

The wolffish doesn’t have a pelvic fin / W.A. Djatmiko / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

14. They reproduce differently than most fish

Another one of those remarkable facts about the wolffish is that the way they reproduce differs completely from most other fish.

Instead of the female just depositing her fertilized eggs into the open ocean, they are released internally. The eggs are among the largest eggs of any type of fish in the ocean, measuring up to 6 millimeters in diameter!

The male wolffish then guards the nest for up to 4 months until the offspring is mature enough to live their life independently.

15. They are used in this popular British meal

Apart from the northern wolffish which has flesh that is too gelatinous to consume, all other wolffish species can be eaten and taste rather delicious as well!

In Britain, the wolffish is marketed as “Scotch halibut” and “Scarborough woof,” or simply, “woof.”

Apart from being marketed with these names, the wolffish is also used in one of the most popular English meals of all “fish and chips.”

Fish and chips / Matthias Meckel / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

16. The woffish is considered to be an endangered species

Overfishing and accidentally catching the wolffish as by-catch is a serious problem for the species’ population. Therefore, the wolffish is considered to be an endangered species, even though it isn’t yet marked as such by official instances.

Because the wolffish plays such an important role in the health of various marine environments, these animals must continue to dwell in the depths of the ocean!

interesting facts about the wolffish
A couple of wolffish / Source