Rodless Anglerfish, Histiophryne narungga (Arnold & Pietsch 2018)

Other Names: Cryptic Anglerfish, Cryptic Frogfish, Narungga Frogfish, Nharangga Warrga Guuya

A Rodless Anglerfish, Histiophryne narungga, from Edithburgh Jetty, South Australia, 11 March 1984. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

An almost white to beige, pale pink or pale grey anglerfish usually covered in small, close-set ocelli, and often dark, often greenish, coralline algae-like patches on sides and pectoral-fin lobe. The species has a short illicium tipped with a tiny tuft of filaments (as seen with a microsope).
This species was previously known as Histiophryne cryptacanthus, which is known from Taiwan to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Histiophryne narungga in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Sep 2023,

Rodless Anglerfish, Histiophryne narungga (Arnold & Pietsch 2018)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southern and south-western Australia, from the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, and Kangaroo Island, to Cape Cuvier, Western Australia. Inhabits inshore and offshore rocky reefs, often with associating with sponges or ascidians. Although the recorded depth range is 3-130 m, the species mostly occurs above 20 m.


Dorsal fin 15–16; Pectoral fin 8-9 (rarely 8); Vertebrae 22–23.
Illicium relatively short, length not more than 4.2% SL; esca a tiny tuft of filaments.
Skin rough to touch, covered everywhere with tiny dermal spinules, especially on the head; cutaneous filaments and appendages absent.


This small anglerfish grows to 9 cm.


Head, body, and fins nearly white to beige, pale pink or light grey, sometimes peppered everywhere with numerous small, close-set ocelli (dark spots each surrounded by a narrow white ring); grey spots or patches occasionally present on sides of body and caudal fin; occasionally, dark, often greenish, coralline algae-like patches present on sides of body and pectoral-fin lobe.


Anglerfishes are well-camouflaged ambush predators, and usually rely on their fishing lure to attract unsuspecting prey. However, this is not the case with members of the genus Histiophryne. The illicium and esca of members this genus range from being absent to very small, and it has been suggested that these species actively stalk their prey.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Unlike most anglerfishes, female smooth anglerfish lay a cluster of large demersal eggs that are attached together. There is no pelagic larval stage, and the eggs are brooded by the female within a "brood pouch" created behind the pectoral fin by the curved body and tail and beneath the folded dorsal fin. An egg cluster laid by a 45 mmSL female contained about 115 eggs that measured 3.6 to 4.2 mm in diameter. Smooth Anglerfish young undergo direct development and the eggs hatch into relatively large, advanced juveniles. 


Of no interest to fisheries.



Similar Species

Although similar to the other Australian species in the genus Histiophryne, the Smooth Anglerfish has a tiny illicium ("fishing rod") and usually inhabits relatively deeper waters to 130 m. H. bougainvilli lives in shallower coastal waters to a depth of 6 m, and has a very small, but visible illicium.


The specific name narungga honours a tribe of Indigenous Australians, the Narungga people (also known as the Narangga), whose traditional lands are located throughout Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, from near Port Wakefield in the east to Port Broughton in the west, and all the way down to the southern tip of the Peninsula.

Species Citation

Histiophryne narungga Arnold & Pietsch 2018, Copeia 106(4): 623, Figs 1-3. Type locality: Port Lincoln, Spencer Gulf, South Australia


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Rodless Anglerfish, Histiophryne narungga (Arnold & Pietsch 2018)


Arnold, R.J. 2012. A new species of frogfish of the genus Histiophryne (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Lombok and Komodo, Indonesia. Zootaxa 3252: 62-68. Abstract online (in part as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Arnold, R.J. & Pietsch, T.W. 2011. A new species of frogfish of the genus Histiophryne (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa 2925: 63-68. Abstract online (in part as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Arnold, R.J. & Pietsch, T.W. 2012. Evolutionary history of frogfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae): a molecular approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 117-129  (Histiophryne sp. 2)

Arnold, R.J. & Pietsch, T.W. 2018. Fantastic beasts and where to find them: a new species of the frogfish genus Histiophryne Gill (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae: Histiophryninae) from Western and South Australia, with a revised key to congeners. Copeia 106(4): 622-631

Currie, D.R. & Sorokin, S.J. 2010. The distribution and trophodynamics of demersal fish from Spencer Gulf. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 134: 198-227.  (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (as Histiophryne cryptacantha)

Kuiter, R. H. & Debelius, H. 2007. The World Atlas of Marine Fishes. Frankfurt, Germany : IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv. (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

McCulloch, A.R. & Waite, E.R. 1918. Some new and little-known fishes from South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum, Adelaide 1: 39-78. (p. 72, in part as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Mees, G.F. 1964. Additions to the fish fauna of Western Australia. 4. Fisheries Bulletin of Western Australia 9: 31-55. (as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Pietsch, T.W. 1984. The genera of frogfishes (family Antennariidae). Copeia 1984(1): 27-44 fig. 1  (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

Pietsch, T.W. 1994. Family Antennariidae. pp. 285-297 figs 254-264 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.  (as Histiophryne cryptacantha)

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 Histiophryne cryptacanthus in part)

Pietsch, T.W. 2008. Antennariidae. pp. 364-374 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus)

Pietsch, T.W., Arnold, R.J. & Hall, D.W. 2009. A bizarre new species of frogfish of the genus Histiophryne from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. Copeia 2009(1): 37-45.

Pietsch, T.W. & Grobecker, D.B. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Palo Alto : Stanford University Press 420 pp. (as Histiophryne cryptacanthus in part)

Schultz, L.P. 1957. The frogfishes of the family Antennariidae. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 107(3383): 47-105 figs 1-7 pls 1-14 (in part as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum 2:1-208 (in part as Histiophryne bougainvilli)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210013

Depth:3-130 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:7.5 cm SL


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CAAB distribution map