Painted Frogfish

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Antennarius pictus - (Shaw, 1794)
Painted Frogfish

A sedentary predator and good candidate for a species tank. Scott W. Michael


In a typical marine community tank, a frogfish will often perish from the competition and stress, or eventually end up as the only survivor, having eaten every last tankmate.

However, a frogfish does make an ideal candidate for a species tank, where it can coexist with soft and stony corals, macroalgae, and other sessile invertebrates that will not trigger its predatory instincts.

Disguised as a sponge, it will remain motionless for long periods, awaiting an unsuspected prey fish or crustacean to venture by. It may use its angling apparatus (see below), a unique appendage just above its upper lip, to lure a victim within striking range.

A frogfish may be harassed by large tankmakes, including angelfishes, puffers, and butterflyfishes that pick at the substrate and may mistake the frogfish for a sponge.

The colors seen in this species are highly variable, ranging from tan to yellow, orange, and shades of pink.

Family: Antennariidae

Other common name(s):

  • Painted Angelerfish

Native range:

Habitat: Shallow reef areas, often with colorful sponges providing camouflage. Reported at depths from 0-75 m (0-247 ft).

Maximum length: 30 cm (12 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 38 L (10 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Bottom.


Carnivore. Offer marine fish flesh, silversides, pieces of seafood. Do not overfeed. Once or two per week should be plenty.

Aquarium Compatibility

Will eat almost anything it sees as potential food and can swallow. This includes fishes almost its own size, ornamental shrimp and crabs. Can be kept in pairs or groups of frogfishes, although larger specimens may cannibalize their brethren.

Special Care

Do not lift from the water in a net, as the fish may gulp air which it may not be able to expel. Transfer by trapping in a container or bag underwater.


Frogfishes will spawn in captivity, laying gelatinous masses known as egg rafts.


The angling apparatus of a frogfish is actually a modified dorsal spine, including a flexible "rod" called the illicium and a "lure" known as the esca, which can resemble a small crustacean or other prey item.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM