Freckled Anglerfish, Abantennarius coccineus (Lesson 1830)

Other Names: Freckled Angler, Freckled Frogfish, Hawaiian Frogfish, Scarlet Anglerfish, Scarlet Frogfish, Spotfin Frogfish

A Freckled Anglerfish, Abantennarius coccineus, in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, August 2018. Source: sarah-sydneydives / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


An extremely well-camouflaged anglerfish that is highly variable in colour, ranging from a mottled bright red to pale brown, yellow, green and black. Freckled Anglerfish have small warty filamentous appendages scattered on the body, and lack a distinct caudal peduncle. The 'fishing rod' (illicium) is very short and tipped with a tiny white esca or 'bait' that lacks lacks tentacles. 

This species has previously been known as Antennarius coccineus and Antennatus coccineus prior to the publication of Pietsch & Arnold 2020.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2023, Abantennarius coccineus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Feb 2024,

Freckled Anglerfish, Abantennarius coccineus (Lesson 1830)

More Info


Widespread in Australian waters from Fremantle, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Sydney Harbour, New South Wales; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west and Eastern Pacific, from East Africa to Panama.  

Inhabits lagoons, reef tops and drop offs on coral reefs, sheltering among rocks and sponges, and in reef crevices.


Dorsal fin I+I+I, 21; Anal fin 7; Pectoral fin 10; Pelvic fin I, 5.

Gill opening near, or on pectoral-fin lobe, tail base absent. Illicium about equal to length of second dorsal spine; esca small, white, without long tentacles; 2nd dorsal-fin spine strongly curved posteriorly; a depressed naked area between 2nd and 3rd dorsal-fin spines.

Dorsal and anal-fin membranes connected to the base of the outermost caudal-fin rays; pectoral fins prehensile with an ‘elbow-like’ joint; pelvic fins with a short, slender spine and 5 soft rays, last ray of pelvic fin divided. Skin densely covered in bifurcated spinules.


To 13 cm TL.


Highly variable in colour, ranging from a mottled yellowish-brown to red, and a mottled dark brown, with 5 bands of spots on the tail, and often with a faint to well-developed ocellated spot on the back behind the dorsal-fin base.

In preservative, highly variable, from pale to brown, often with a weakly pigmented dark spot at posterior dorsal fin base and darkly pigmented bars radiating from eye.


These ambush predators rely on their excellent camouflage and 'fishing lure' to attract their prey. The anglerfish lies motionless, waving its lure to attract unwary fishes which are rapidly engulfed with a lightning strike.


Oviparous (egg layers), sexes separate, with external fertilization. Females produce eggs in a gelatinous floating mass or 'raft' where they remain embedded until the larvae hatch. Larvae spend the first 1 or 2 months in the plankton before settling onto the reef.


Although of no interest to fisheries, Freckled Anglerfish are often kept in aquaria.

Similar Species

Differs from the similar Abantennarius nummifer in lacking the black spot on the dorsal fin and a distinct caudal peduncle.


The specific name is from the Latin coccineus (= red, scarlet), in reference to the colour pattern of some individuals.

Species Citation

Chironectes coccineus Lesson 1830, Voyage autour du Monde, 2: 143, pI. 16, fig. 1. Type locality: Mauritius.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Freckled Anglerfish, Abantennarius coccineus (Lesson 1830)


Allen, G. R. 1997. Marine fishes of tropical Australia and south-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 292 pp. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.(as Antennarius coccineus)

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. The Fishes of Christmas Island. 2nd Ed. Christmas Island Natural History Association. 284 pp. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The marine fishes of north-western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 201p. + pls. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Arnold, R.J. & Pietsch, T.W. 2012. Evolutionary history of frogfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae): A molecular approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 117-129. (as Antennatus coccineus)

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp.(as Antennarius coccineus)

Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170. (as Antennarius commerson)

Francis, M. 2022. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec islands December 2022. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)(as Antennarius coccineus)

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.(as Antennarius coccineus)

Lesson, R.P. 1830. Poissons. 66-238 pls 1-38 in Duperrey, L.I. (ed.). Voyage autour du Monde, exécuté sur la corvette de la Majesté la Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825. Atlas. Paris : Bertrand Vol. 2, Part 1 471 pp. See ref at BHL

Pietsch, T.W. 1984. The genera of frogfishes (Family Antennariidae). Copeia 1984(1): 27-44 (as Antennarius coccineus)

Pietsch, T.W. 1999. Families Antennariidae, Tetrabrachiidae, Lophichthyidae. pp. 2013-2019 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Pietsch, T. 2022. Abantennarius coccineus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T67968479A67970942. Accessed on 06 March 2023.

Pietsch, T.W. & Arnold, R.J. 2020. Frogfishes. Biodiversity, zoogeography, and behavioral ecology. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 601 pp.

Pietsch, T.W. & Grobecker, D.B. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioural Ecology. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 420 pp. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific. University of Hawai´I Press, Honolulu. 707 pp.(as Antennarius coccineus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Antennarius coccineus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210017

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-74 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map