14 Scary Monkfish Facts

Did you know that one of the creepiest monsters in the ocean can actually be eaten, especially together with broccoli and ginger mash?

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of monkfish facts, some of the creepiest, yet yummiest creatures living in the oceans.

1. These fish have several nicknames

It’s fair to conclude that monkfish are some of the scariest creatures swimming around in the ocean. Monkfish is the name given to these creatures by North Sea fishermen, a sea in the northern part of Europe.

In other parts of the world, this type of fish is sometimes referred to as fishing frogs, frogfish, goosefish, and even sea-devils!

Looking at this creature, the latter name seems rather fitting, don’t you think?

The sea-devil / Alexander Mayrhofer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

2. There’s a shark called “monkfish” as well

The monkfish isn’t to be confused with another animal in the deep ocean which has been given the same name, a type of shark named the “angel shark.”

This particular type of shark is also called the “Squatina squatina” and lives at the bottom of the ocean, creating ambushes and preying on unfortunate creatures passing by in the middle of the night.

Oh, the ocean floor is such a great place to live!

Angel shark, which is also called monkfish / Source

3. They are a type of anglerfish

The monkfish really is a family of anglerfish, a bony type of fish that is known to be a predator.

These fish live all around the world and consist of at least 16 families according to the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).

4. Monkfish are part of the family “Lophiidae”

Monkfish are part of the family Lophiidae in the genus Lophius, one of the 4 genera in this family.

The other 3 genera are the Sladenia, Lophiodes, Lophiomus. Altogether, there are a total of 25 species in these 4 genera.

5. There are 7 different species of monkfish

There are a total of 7 different species in the genus Lophius and also one extinct species. The 7 extant species are:

  • American angler – Lophius americanus
  • Blackbellied angler – Lophius budegassa
  • Blackfin goosefish – Lophius gastrophysus
  • Yellow goosefish – Lophius litulon
  • Angler – Lophius piscatorius
  • Shortspine African angler – Lophius vaillanti
  • Devil anglerfish – Lophius vomerinus
monkfish facts
Angler / Olga1969 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

6. You won’t come across monkfish any time soon

So do you have to fear that you’ll come across one of these monsters while taking a swim in the ocean?

Don’t worry, these fish live on continental slopes at a depth of at least 200 meters (656 feet). Some species even live at depths of over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), meaning it’s impossible you’ll see one swimming around.

Unless you’re visiting an aquarium, of course!

Monkfish in aquarium / Steven G. Johnson / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

7. Where do monkfish live?

Monkfish have an extremely vast range and live on the slopes of just about every continent in the world.

This means that you’re guaranteed to find a species of monkfish in the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans!

8. How big can monkfish become?

Apart from having a rather scary appearance, these fish can become quite large as well. The largest individuals ever found had a length of over 150 centimeters (4.9 feet). The average length of all species combined is about 100 centimeters (3.3 feet).

The common characteristic of monkfish is their extremely large head and wide mouth, filled with multiple rows of extremely sharp teeth.

9. They have a special feature to lure prey

One of the most amazing monkfish facts is that they have a very special feature, which appears to be some sort of antenna growing from the middle of their heads. They can use this to lure in prey before launching a sudden attack.

This is similar to how the tail of the gulper eel works, but instead of a tail, it actually grows right on top of their heads.

10. Females release more than a million eggs at once

Females release an enormous amount of transparent gelatinous material which consists of over a million eggs, straight into the ocean.

This immense sheet of eggs can reach 60 to 100 centimeters (2 to 3.3 feet) in width and 8 to 10 meters (26 to 33 feet) in length. The monkfish spawn just swims around in the sea and feeds on plankton.

11. Monkfish are commercially fished species

One of the most fascinating monkfish facts is that these fish are actually rather yummy to eat. Therefore, they have been extensively fished by commercial fishing enterprises.

Because of their tasty meat, too much fishing might cause problems for the sustainability of these species, even though their range is so extremely vast and their reproduction cycle is so abundant, this won’t happen any time soon.

12. Monkfish is sometimes called “poor man’s lobsters”

So how do monkfish taste, you might wonder by now?

The taste of monkfish is described as mild and slightly sweet. It’s sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobsters because their meat is rather firm and doesn’t flake easily.

This is why it resembles that of scallops or lobsters, which is how the nickname came about.

13. A particular part of their body is considered a delicacy in Japan

Did you know that you can eat axolotl in Japan?

Then you surely won’t be surprised that you can also eat monkfish in Japan. What is remarkable is that they prepare it in a certain way, and more specifically, the monkfish’s liver.

First, they dip the monkfish liver in salt, then they rinse it in Sake, a popular hard liquor in Japan. Then the veins are removed and the liver is steamed.

Enjoy the meal which is called “Ankimo!

Ankimo, monkfish liver dish
Ankimo, monkfish liver dish / Anyarei / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

14. A big retailer in the UK banned monkfish from their stores

The overfishing of monkfish isn’t always good news, because the concern of the species becoming endangered is pretty real. What’s even worse is that the bottom trawling, which is how monkfish are caught, pretty much destroys a lot of habitat on the ocean floor.

For this exact reason, British retailer Asda has banned the fish from their stores since 2007.

This means you won’t see a hideous face like the one below in any Asda store in the UK!

Monkfish fun facts