Humpback anglerfish: Characteristics, habitat reproduction and more…

The deep sea anglerfish, also known as the humpback anglerfish, is a medium sized anglerfish that lives in the bathypelagic zone of the open ocean. Join us to learn everything about this interesting and even scary fish


Animalia Kingdom  Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii  Order: Lophiiformes  Family: Melanocetidae  Genus: Melanocetus  Species: M. johnsonii:Humpback anglerfish: taxonomy

General Characteristics of the Humpback anglerfish,

Their characteristics encompass a series of particular features. This species is unique among the many oddities that exist on the seabed.

Let’s see below small specifications about this incognito and frightening creature:

The physical environment in which they live drastically affects their physiognomy. The high pressures that exist in the depths of the sea make the vast majority of the deep-sea fishes known today possess a soft body.

To exemplify this characteristic within the abyssal fauna, twe could mention the dumbo octopus, which is one of the strangest and most curious specimens of the planet.

√  There is another remarkable aspect on the body of the Humpback anglerfish, which is their very jelly-like aspect, but it’s not ruled out that some species have very small bone formations.

One of the reasons why these fish don’t have bones is due to the lack of nutrients in their diet, especially calcium and vitamin D. Without these two components it’s difficult for the fish to maintain strong bones and, of course, develop spines.

  The Humpback anglerfish is characterized by having a giant oral cavity.

  On the other hand, it’s not only about their big mouth; they also have pronounced and sharp teeth. They seem not to obey any specific order, which causes the fish to have a terrifying and dangerous appearance.

√  Their reproduction is not in masses nor very often, since it’s characterized by having a slightly late gestation and in few proportions, a fact that has a significant impact on the population of this species. They are not of great proliferation in the ocean floor.

As for the vision of the abyssal species, it’s characterized by having few developed eyes, so that their small lamp helps them guide when they swim. Demon fish have very small eye formations, a fact that limits their vision.

Body Color

Abyssal fish have an opaque color, that is, they have a skin very close to black. However, it has been difficult to exactly  determine its color since this species is usually camouflaged in the ocean.

They also tend to have greenish spots, but the fact is that they have nothing to do with the skin directly, but with the millions of bacteria that are deposited in their body.

The accumulation of bacteria commonly fulfills the function of small light bulbs because of chemical reactions between each of them, since they are not common bacteria but have the power to be bioluminescent.


The abyssal or humpback anglerfish has a small size. Its approximate size is between 12 to 30 centimeters in length.

However, the most normal is to find specimens of 20 centimeters. On this aspect it’s worth mentioning that the deep-sea fish have sexual dimorphism since the females are much larger


Abyssal fish have a small antenna that protrudes from the head, specifically from the nose and has a downward curved shape.

A large number of bacteria congregate at the end of this formation, capable of producing light on their own, and which are also usually in the concave part of the small eyes of the fish, which is a total benefit for the humpback anglerfish since they have difficulty seeing.

So with the help of the light that bacteria emit, fish can swim without any problem.

There are also other fish that possess these characteristics and are variations and known as the lantern fish.

On the other hand, this leads to discard any taboo with respect to the abyssal fish lamp, specifically the one that remains in the popular imaginary when considering that these fish have a kind of light bulb or bulb.

There is also another important issue about the coexistence that exists between the bacteria and the abyssal fish and that these feed on the fish’s blood without causing health problems. Rather, coexistence represents a real benefit for both.

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Abyssal or Humpback anglerfish inhabit unsuspected places, those in which we would doubt that there was any kind of marine animal. This shows us that the sea is never completely uninhabited, because in its water there are always strange beings.

Humpback anglerfish can be found from 1000 meters deep although specialized in marine biology point out that these fish live in even much deeper places, even between 3000 and 4000 meters.

In addition, the habitat of the Humpback anglerfish not only stands out by the depth, but by the water temperature from 5 to 1 degree Celsius, almost to a freezing point.

Habitat conditions are what have determined the name of both, the fish and the place. It’s said abyssal because of the depth and extreme conditions, that is, an extremely isolated place located in the deepest part of the marine world, that is to say in the abyssopelagic zone.

This area is also characterized by being in total darkness, but sometimes it’s illuminated by organic material scattered there by those luminous bacteria that reside in the abyssal fish and, of course, we can’t forget the low temperatures that prevail in such oceanic waters . We invite you to read our article lighted fish, to learn more about the abysalll zone

Geographical Distribution

The geographical areas in which the humpback anglerfisha is usually located more regularly are in open waters, for example:

Pacific Ocean

Around the Red Sea

  Depths of the Indian Ocean


Abyssal or humpback anglerfisha have the natural ability to adapt to the environment. Or rather it’s an animal product of the place where it’s found. Its monstrous appearance proves it resemble a species that derives from some terrifying story. The truth of this is that this fish has the power to live in these abyssal areas and be in extreme conditions.

How Do Humpback Anglerfish Reproduce?

Abyssal fish or demons are lonely creatures but this ends when they get their couple. Once they create that bond, they remain together.

However, there is little data regarding the amount of spawning and the duration of the incubation. Although it’s not ruled out that it’s a species that doesn’t reproduce very frequently and in large quantities.

These species are still a complete enigma, so much so that new species that inhabit the abyssal areas are discovered annually, especially since it’s a place that is not easily accessible.

However, what is do known about  the humpback anglerfish  reproduction, is that the male bites at the height of the female’s belly to mate, after this, they are joined in such a way that they become an appendix of the other.

Now, the deep-sea fish have a usual behavior while they are in pairs. The female is the one who usually protects the male, maybe due to her bigger size. This behavior is common among beings; size is a requirement to show respect and superiority.

The moment they are threatened by the presence of another fish, the female moves in the dark and with the help of her small lamp projects her terrifying aspect to scare away any possible threat. This is the projection mechanism that demon fish have to stay alive and out of danger.


Abyssal fish or demons have habits that go according to such an enigmatic place. They act very soberly when facing dangers, especially because they are very small specimens and become the main food of their predators. 

The darkness in the abyssal zone is helpful for these fish, since it allows them to camouflage perfectly.

Nocturnal activity must be mentioned among another of their habits, which leads us to consider that this is a species that presents a somewhat inverted way of life. In the evenings they go swimming, look for food, while in the daylight hours, humpback angler fish remain in their caves.

What Do Humpback anglerfish Feed On?

The abyssal fish’s diet is irregular, because in the depths in which it inhabits the food scarce. Among the possibilities are: the remains torn by other species in the not so deep areas in which they inhabit. These organic sediments descend gradually until the vast deep sea.

In addition, this species usually feeds on both plant and animal zooplankton.  Moreover, small microorganisms or fully developed animals such as small crustaceans and mollusks complete their diet.

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Other Abbysal Species

Let’s meet other creatures from the deep Oceans

Scaly Dragonfish or Boa Dragonfish

The dragon fish has an elongated body reminiscent of a mythical species or a species of snake with a demonic head in the form of a carnivorous and menacing fish.

It has an approximate length of 40 centimeters, however, the size may be larger depending on the family since there  are 3 groups of this fish: S. boa boa; the second known as S. boa colibrinus, and third, S. boa ferox.

Giant tube worms

The giant tube worm is one of the most morphologically curious species because its appearance suggests that it’s not a worm but a plant.

This type of worm has thousands of bacteria in its small tubular formation located in a small bag called as trofosoma.

The worms usually have a pronounced length that can reach up to 2 meters and 70 centimeters. It should be noted that the end of its tail is reddish in color and has a diameter of 4 centimeters.

They live at the bottom of the ocean at depths ranging from 2000 to 4000 meters.

Ghostly seadevil or soft leftvent angler.

In this species there is a very marked sexual dimorphism, as in most abyssal species. In the absence of light and existing in such a large space, finding a reproductive partner is a feat.

That is why males are much smaller than females and adhere to their mucosa to deposit sperm sacs more easily, thus minimizing the effort to look for more reproductive partners.

Taxis are produced by the female’s bioluminescent organ, which attracts males that may be found around them. Most of the specimens, in these case females, don’t exceed 16 centimeters.

Bean’s Bigscale,

The curious name of these abyssal fish is due to the bone plaque that covers their heads, similar to the helmets with which the knights of the Middle Ages protected their heads. They have a size of 12 cm and are in abysses of 4000 meters.

His nostrils are larger than his eyes, which seems to indicate a predominance of the sense of smell compared to that of sight to function in black depths.

Dumbo Octopus

Dumbo octopuses live in the deep open ocean down to depths of at least 13,100 feet (4000 m) and perhaps much deeper, making this group the deepest living of all known octopuses.

Life at these extreme depths requires the ability to live in very cold water and in the complete absence of sunlight.

Dumbo octopuses are naturally rare, and the deep sea is enormous, so these species have specialized behaviors to increase the likelihood that they can successfully reproduce anytime that they find a mate.

Dumbo octopuses move by slowly flapping their ear-like fins, and they use their arms to steer. They are foraging predators and eat pelagic invertebrates that swim above the sea floor.

As there are few large predators in the deep sea, dumbo octopuses ’primary predators are diving fishes and marine mammals, including tunas sharks, and dolphins.

Due to their preference for extreme depths, they are only very rarely captured in fishing nets and are probably not threatened by human activities.

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Abyssal Zone

The ocean, that large expanse of water that covers our beloved planet, is divided into several zones, depending on several characteristics. We are going to talk about the one known as the abyssal zone or abyssopelagic zone.

This area, located between 3,000 and 6,000 meters deep, is below what is known as the batipelagic zone and above the hadopelagic.

Due to the great depth to which it’s, sunlight doesn’t reach here plunging this entire area into absolute darkness.

This area occupies nothing more and nothing less than 70% of the total area of ​​the oceans, and is characterized by a very cold environment, with very high hydrostatic pressure and nutrient shortage, in addition to the already named lack of natural light.

All these conditions make this place lacking vegetation to perform photosynthesis. Thus, in the absence of algae, the beings that inhabit the abyssal zone can only feed on the detritus that falls from the surface.

As for these abyssal beings, we can say that they are strange beings with a certain monstrous appearance. Most of them are bioluminescent, that is, they are capable of producing their own light, which on the one hand will help them attract certain prey, identify with other specimens and escape the dangers. This light is normally created thanks to a colony of bacteria that would inhabit the being.

The presence of abyssal gigantism is also common; and it is that in this area you can find sea spiders of up to 1.50 meters. In general, they are beings that have nothing to do with those who live on the surface, such as Caulophryne, Argyropelecus, Idiacanthus, Melanocetus, Saccopharynx or Chauliodus.

The discovery of these beings would not come until 1977, because before, it was thought that living beings could not survive at depths greater than 2,000 meters.

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