Weird fish of the week: Hairy frogfish

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This week we take a look at the Hairy or Striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus, a fish that will be familiar to some as it appears from time to time in the hobby. Check out the video too!

These fascinating predators certainly live up to their common name as they're covered in thousands of fleshy, hair-like skin extensions helping to blend them in among soft corals, sponges and sea weed or simply break up the general shape of the fish when hunting on more exposed sandy areas.

It has also been suggested that these 'hairs' mimic the spines of sea urchins.

They are also able to change colour to match their surroundings further disguising themselves.

These hirsute hunters seek out their prey in two main ways, the first of which is typical of many members of the order Lophiiformes, (commonly known as anglerfish). The frogfishís first dorsal fin spine, (known as an illicium) has evolved to move independently and is topped by a fleshy lure or 'esca' which the fish twitches and sways to simulate the movements of a marine worm.

Any unwary prey tempted within reach is engulfed with lightning speed into its capacious mouth. Their stomach is also expandable and they have been known to swallow fish twice their own size.

The other way of hunting employed by the frogfish is to stalk potential prey across the seabed using highly developed pectoral and pelvic fins which resemble arms. These are used to slowly 'walk' up to their target before attempting to swallow them whole.

They have also been observed searching for the burrows of small fish before positioning themselves nearby and 'fishing' for their meal with their lure.

They are poor, reluctant swimmers and usually only do so to flee predators and have also been known to inflate themselves with water like puffer fish as a defence mechanism. This water can be released through their tube-like gill openings to give them a form of jet propulsion to further aid escape.

Females grow to around 25cm/10in, while males are usually considerably smaller at closer to 12cm/5in.

Courtship can be a risky affair as hungry females aren't averse to eating any careless potential suitor that approaches without due caution.