Lusitanian toadfish: Characteristics, habits, types and more….

The Lusitanian toadfish  (Halobatrachus didactylus), is the only species of the genus Halobatrachus. It’s worth mentioning that it’s a marine fish of the Batrachoididae family which is distributed along the Atlantic coast of Africa and the western Mediterranean.

Taxonomy 🐠

Animalia Kingdom Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii  Order: Batrachoidiformes Family: Batrachoididae Genus: Halobatrachus Species: H. didactylusLusitanian toadfish: taxonomy

Learning about taxonomy

The main categories or units are: species, gender, family, order, class, phylum or division, kingdom and domain. Each of these categories is called Taxon.

Species: it’s the smallest category of a kingdom and is the basis on which the other categories are built.

Gender: two or more species that show very close relationships constitute a broader category called gender.

✅  Family: several genres with common characteristics make up a family, from this category up similar ones become more evident. Example 1. The tomato, and the potatoes belong to the same family of Solanaceae. 2. The fox, the dog and the wolf belong to the same family of canids.

Order: several closely related families constitute an order.

Class: several orders make up a class.

✅  Phylum: several classes make up a phylum in animals and a division in plants and fungi.

✅   Kingdom: It consists of several phyilum That today are 5. The animal kingdom (animals), the plant kingdom (plants), the fungal kingdom (mushrooms, molds and yeasts), the protoctist kingdom (protozoa and algae) and the monone kingdom (bacteria).

✅ The domain: which groups the different kingdoms. There are currently 3 domains. Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya.

Lusitanian Toadfish: Characteristics 🐠

The Lusitanian toadfish   has characteristics of a bony fish. An adult specimen of this fish usually has a maximum length of 50 centimeters and among its most outstanding features we can mention its similarity with a toad which gives rise to its common name. His body is large and round, just like his head and the mouth is wide.

This species has two spines covered by skin at the upper angle of the operculum, as well as two dorsal fins.

The first one has three strong and short spines and is covered with skin, while the second is long with 19 to 24 soft rays.

Halobatrachus didactylus has a smooth skin, covered with mucus which is a viscous substance that they produce to protect themselves.

The color of this fish is light brown, with a large number of dark brown spots of uneven sizes that form irregular transverse stripes. Its fins have longitudinal and radial rows of small dark spots. It’s important to note that this Lusitanian toadfish   is classified as dangerous for people because it has poisonous thorns. We invite you to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn about such an interesting topic

Let’s meet it

Habitat and distribution 🐠

The Lusitanian toadfish   is native to the warm waters of Indonesia  and usually inhabits corals and sponges. When they are observed it seems that they were a coral and most of the time they also have the same color as corals.

 Moreover, they have many ramifications that look like hairs, but they are almost always algae that facilitate camouflage and it gives the feeling of being all covered with hairs.

The depth range of this species ranges from ten meters to fifty meters deep.

They are marine fish although the species of the river Lusitanian toadfish   has also been seen in the rivers of the Gambia.

Habits 🐠

Lusitanian toadfish   are sedentary creatures so they always remain in the same place. They are usually buried in the sand or in the mud or in the cracks of the rocks. . They feed on crustaceans, mollusks and small fish. The females deposit the eggs which are quite large and which are then kept by the males.

The male of this species has the peculiarity that it can make a kind of whistling or grunting, with his swim bladder to attract the female and to keep other males out of their territory.

It’s also worth noting that they are very clever since they usually simulate that they are seeing a worm swimming to ambush and when a fish approaches to eat it, it finds the surprise that it was not a worm, it was a decoy of this incredible animal.

Their mouth can open and expand to the width of their bodies to engulf large prey.

Is the Lusitanian toadfish Edible? 🐠

For those who are wondering if the Lusitanian toadfish is edible the answer is yes!. In fact in various places in Spain they prepare delicious dishes with this particular fish and some diners have come to compare their white meat with lobster. although they are not always available on the menu.

Of course, the specialists in the kitchen say that it must be a large and heavy specimen to be able to take advantage of its meat sufficiently.

Lusitanian toadfish: Sting and Poison 🐠

We have already described this species, but now we are going to study in this section everything related to its venom including: symptomatology, treatment, among others.

Clinical Manifestation 🐠

The bite of this species is not fatal, but the fact that the consequences of the bite last a long time is of great importance. The pain after the bite is immediate and very strong.

The affected area tends to swell and hives and strong burning occur. Depending on the type of bite, the pain may spread throughout the limb until it becomes paralyzed.

It’s a bacterial infection that promotes the appearance of an irritated wound. If it’s not treated correctly, it can trigger worse problems.

The pain can last even several days and present chronic pain for several months in the affected area. In some cases, cases of Ankylosis have been reported.

It’s a type of sequels that leaves the bite of this fish and causes the lack of movement in the surrounding joints of the bite. This lack of movement can occur partially or completely.

The venom from this fish’s bite has no anti poison itself that can eliminate it completely. Therefore, it’s necessary to know more about this poison in order to treat it. The symptoms and damage must be well controlled to prevent possible aggravations.

Treatment 🐠

Next, we will describe the steps to follow in case of toadfish sting:

✔️ Try to extract as much poison as possible so that the wound is less serious. You have to put pressure on the wound so that it bleeds as much as possible and removes as much poison as possible.

✔️  Place a tourniquet a few centimeters above the wound and we will loosen it so that the blood circulates.

✔️   We use hot water at about 50 degrees so that the pain goes down. We will do it for about an hour or an hour and a half.

✔️   If the wound does not have bleeding, we will have to make the cut so that the bleeding can expel more poison.

The wound that we have to cause has to be of a very small size, so that it does not need any surgical closure.

✔️    it’s advisable to inject an amount of 0.1-0.5 ml of 5% potassium permanganate which must be done by a specialized doctor.

✔️    To control the pain of the bite it’s good to introduce intramuscularly meperidine hydrochloride.

Prevention 🐠

The best way to cure this type of sting is prevention, in this sense we must take care of this  species toad fish and for this we will highlight some prevention measures.:

Before the bite of any kind of poisonous fish there is no better prevention than to get away from them.

✔️    Before a bite of toad fish, you should go to the nearest medical center to receive personalized attention by experts, who will control the possible manifestations and improve the patient’s prognosis.

✔️   It’s suggested to walk dragging the feet so that the toad fish is scared and proceeds to move away, in this way avoiding stepping on it by accident.

Let’s learn some first aids basics


Noise 🐠

The bulging-eyed sea bottom’s inhabitants will not probably win a beauty contest, but they can truly sing

How do you know when a male toad fish looks for love? Easy, just listen to the grunts and whistles.

Like some birds and frogs, toad fish sing to find a mate. In fact, if you didn’t know what to look for, the songs of the toad fish would probably be the only clue that these smooth-skinned inhabitants exist.

«They are not the kind of fish you see swimming freely,» says Erica Staaterman, bioacoustics of the US Office of Ocean Energy Administration. EEUU. «Basically they hide under the rocks.»

However, if shortly after dark you drop a microphone under the waves on the Caribbean coast of Panama, you would hear nothing but the Bocon toad fish (Amphichthys cryptocentrus) trying to get attention.

Staaterman learned this in the most difficult way: she traveled to Central America to conduct a completely different study on underwater sounds. But the toad fish had other plans.

«What we found in that study was like, ‘Holy heaven, this fish is suffocating everything else. What the hell is this?'» Staaterman says.

«It really ruined our other data because it was very dominant in some of these ecosystems.»

Two-note toad fish 🐠

Faced with an avalanche of toad fish singing a Capella, Staaterman and her colleagues decided to study the whistle-like noises similar to those of a ship of the Bocon toad fish. No one had recorded the Bocon, one of 70 species of toad fish from around the world.

«As we moved forward and seeing these calls in our analysis software, we began to notice trends in which each of these individual fish seemed to be composing its call differently, says Staaterman.

Each male toad fish vibrated its swim bladder to make its own song and, in other words, each was composed of a combination of two basic notes: whistles and grunts.

«Sometimes they made two small grunts before the whistle sound. Something like they are clearing their throat,» says Staaterman, who led a recent study on the findings in the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes.

«Some other times they made a growl and three whistles, or two grunts and two whistles. All this seems to vary between individuals,» she says.

In addition, the toad fish growls in the middle of a neighbor’s song in what scientists believe is an attempt to interfere with rivals. Interestingly, Staaterman said that males with more unique song patterns were less likely to suffer interruptions from their neighbors.

Allen Mensinger, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, says the new study confirms what she has seen in the oyster toad fish (Opsanus tau) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, although she points out that her species, unlike the Bocon, Stop calling when the waters get hot.

Unknown space 🐠

Scientists have been studying toad fish since the 19th century, and animals have helped us understand everything from insulin production to the physiology of the inner ear and acoustic communication.

It was even discovered that the toad fish was the source of the so-called buzz in Sausalito, a mysterious buzz that boat owners in California reported hearing through the hulls of their ships.

«We put them on the space shuttle and took them to space on two different shuttle missions and they came back alive,» says Mensinger.

Still, creatures probably won’t star in animated movies soon.

«They are very ugly,» says Staaterman. «They have those chins that hang from the chin and these huge eyes, and their skin is mucous and spongy.»

But this does not make its acoustic behavior less fascinating, says Staaterman. After all, a fish that relies on sound to find companions cannot do so well in a world increasingly polluted with man-made noise.»It’s a difficult world for the toad fish.» He has to sing the best he can. »

Let’s listen to them again

Other Toad Fish 🐠

Ranisapo 🐠

This fish is popular in sport fishing, since it’s a toad fish that has a unique beauty. Its scientific name is Antennariidae and it first appeared in a fossil record in the lower Eocene, during the lower Tertiary. The fish is known as toad fish however it’s important not to confuse it with the toad fish of the Batrachoididae family since these are considered the true toad fish.


This toad fish has a chubby, atypical appearance of other fish as well as a thickness of 2.5 to 38 cm. Its bulky, high-backed body lacks scales and is often covered with spines.

Their short bodies have between 18 and 23 vertebrae; their mouths are pointed upwards with flattened teeth. Antennariidae are brightly colored, white, yellow, red, green or black or stained in various colors allowing them to blend with their coral environment.

It’s worth mentioning that they have an appendix in the form of a rod that serves to hunt, called illicium which if it’s lost by the bite of a fish or another reason can be regenerated. This species has small round gill openings behind its pectoral fins.


Antennariidae live in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. their habitat is mostly in areas where the water level generally has a temperature of 20 ° C, or more although some specimens are also found in the area of ​​the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, along the Atlantic coast of the United States, on the southern coast of Australia and on the northern tip of New Zealand, South Africa, and in Baja California also in Mexico.

The greatest diversity of species is found in the Indo-Pacific region, with the highest concentration around Indonesia, in the small Strait of Lembeh, northeast of Sulawesi in this area, divers have found nine different species.

Movement 🐠

Antennariidae don’t generally move much, they prefer to be at the bottom of the sea and wait for the dam to approach. Once the dam is detected, it slowly approaches using its pectoral and pelvic fins to walk along the floor… they rarely swim.

Moreover, they alternately move their pectoral fins forward for walking propelling a little like a two-legged tetrapod, leaving the pelvic fins out.

Their walk resembles a slow gallop, moving their pectoral fins simultaneously forward and backward, transferring their weight to the pelvic fins while moving the pectorals forward…. Antennariidae they can only cover short stretches.

In open waters, Antennariidae can swim with the movements of the tail fin which also has a jet propulsion, often used by young specimens. This is achieved by rhythmically forcing the water through the openings of the gills, which are located behind of the pelvic fins.

Feeding 🐠

This fish eats crustaceans and other fish, using its appendix. when it observes a potential prey it approaches and begins to move its illicium in such a way that the scale imitates the movements of an animal, so when the prey approaches the toad fish moves slowly to prepare its attack.

They sometimes ambush the prey and at other times they simply adjust the angle of the mouth.

They can increase the volume of the oral cavity up to 12 times, by pulling the prey in the mouth along with the water the attack can be as fast as 6 milliseconds, the water flows through the gills, while the prey is swallowed and the Esophagus is closed with a special muscle to prevent the victim from escaping.

Interesting facts 🐠

In addition to expanding its mouth, this fish can also spread its stomach to swallow animals up to twice its size; it sucks its prey so fast that other animals cannot see what happens.

Reproduction 🐠

The reproductive behavior of this toad fish is not fully investigated and few observations have been made in the aquariums, even less in the wild. They are free spawning, the females lay the eggs in the water and the males come behind to fertilize them.

Several days before the laying of eggs, the female’s abdomen begins to swell. The male begins to approach the female about two days before spawning.  It’s unknown if spawning it’s predetermined by some external factor, such as the phase of the moon, or if the male is attracted by a smell or signal released by the female.

In all the breeding pairs that have been observed, one partner was significantly larger than the other, sometimes up to 10 times when sex could be determined and the largest individual was always the female..

During the spawning-free courtship ritual, the male swims to the side and behind the female, pushing her with his mouth.

Then he stays near her sewer just before spawning, the female begins to swim above the ocean floor to the surface and at the highest point of her swim, the ovules and sperm are released before descending.

Sometimes, the male removes the eggs from the female with his mouth after mating. the specimens depart quickly, otherwise the smaller male would probably be eaten.

Let’s watch them

Batrachoides manglae 🐠

This species is distributed from Colombia to Venezuela and is a freshwater fish like the Amazonian discs. Its scientific name is Batrachoides manglae.

This toad fish reaches a maximum length of thirty centimeters, its head is wide with a frontal profile almost in.

The adult specimens have very varied colors, the back of its head and the sides of the body are brown, with yellow and green tones.

Batrachoides manglae ​​has dark cross bands distributed to the sides of the body. The fins have bands that alternate between dark and light, the belly is white and sometimes it is stained brown.

Where do They live? 🐠

This toad fish inhabits the shallow muddy bottoms near the neritic zone. There are many of them in mangrove lagoons (like the coconut crabs) and also in brackish water. They usually live under rocks, caves and coral formations, their diet is based on small mollusc gastropods and crustaceans.

The decrease in mangroves in Colombia is suspected due to the presence of this species although they do not appear to be mangrove-dependent. Concern for habitat degradation led Colombia to describe it as a vulnerable species of concern.

Angler (Lophius piscatorius) 🐠

This is a toad fish belonging to the Lophiidae family, which is found in the coastal waters of the northeastern Atlantic, from the Barents Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea within some of its range, including the Irish Sea. It’s worth mentioning that this species is very popular in commercial fishing

.Description 🐠

Lophius piscatorius  has a very large head which is wide, flat and decayed while the rest of the body seems to be an appendix. The wide mouth extends over the entire front circumference of the head, and both jaws have long and pointed teeth bands which are tilted inwards.

Female anglers grow to a length of more than 2 meters, while males are ten times smaller. This toad fish has a life expectancy of up to twenty four years.

The pectoral and pelvic fins are coupled in such a way that they perform the functions of feet, so that the fish is able to walk along the sea floor, where it usually hides in the sand or between seaweed.

Around its head also along the body, the skin has some fringed appendages that resemble short branches of seaweed, a structure that, combined with the extraordinary ability to assimilate the color of its surroundings, helps this fish to camouflage. We invite you toread our article Humpback angler fish to learn more about these fish.

here it’s

Black bellied angler 🐠

Its scientific name is Lophius budegassa. It’s a species of monkfish in the family Lophiidae, it was described by Maximilian Spinola in 1807. this toad fish is found at a depth of 300 to 1,013 meters in the eastern Ionian Sea, while in the coastal waters of the United Kingdom is in the depth of 650 meters. It’s also located on the coast of Senegal and in the Mediterranean Sea.

The species can extend up to 100 centimeters, but it’s usually half of that size.

The blackbellied anglerfish has the typical shape of the previous toadfish, but its body has a dark peritoneum that is visible through the skin located in its belly.

It also has a less long head and has a third shorter head spine.

This toad fish lives in deep waters of 300 meters at 1000 meters deep, it feeds on organisms that are swimming at medium depth but occasionally go down to the bottom to feed attracted by this fish, also its meat is marketed as the common monkfish.

let’s meet them


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