Tasselled Anglerfish, Rhycherus filamentosus (Castelnau 1872)

Other Names: Tasselled Angler, Tasselled Frogfish, Two-pronged Toad-fish

A Tasselled Anglerfish, Rhycherus filamentosus, in South Australia, 2014. Source: Julian K. Finn / Museums Victoria. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


An extremely well-camouflaged reddish-brownish anglerfish with dark and light bars and blotches, and a whitish belly. The skin is densely covered in long filaments that resemble red algae, and the "fishing" lure mimics a marine worm.  

Fabulous footage of a Tasselled Anglerfish waving its lure to attract prey in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Video of a Tasselled Anglerfish on a pier piling at Blairgowrie, Port Phillip, Victoria.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Rhycherus filamentosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3841

Tasselled Anglerfish, Rhycherus filamentosus (Castelnau 1872)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia, from Bass Strait off Lakes Entrance, Victoria, to Point Sinclair, in the Great Australian Bight, South Australia, and northern Tasmania. Inhabits rocky reefs that are covered in macroalgae, at depths to 60 m. 


Dorsal fin I+I+I, 12-13; Anal fin 7-8; Caudal fin 9; Pectoral fin 9-11; Pelvic fin 5.

Body short, deep, slightly compressed;  caudal peduncle short. Head large; eyes small (3.8-8.5% SL), protruding conspicuously from surface of head;  mouth large, upturned; teeth numerous, short, recurved; gill opening a small pore posteroventral to pectoral-fin base. 

Scales absent; skin smooth, without dermal spinules but everywhere covered with close-set, tapering, cutaneous appendages, some as long as 20% SL.  

Dorsal fin in four parts, illicium (first spine with lure), two solitary skin-covered spines, and elongate soft dorsal; illicium arising on tip of snout, long (16.7-31.6% SL), not covered by dermal spinules, esca present, consisting of pair of tapering, worm-like appendages (as long as 25% SL), with a low, broad medial flap; second dorsal spine above eye, narrow, not connected to head by membrane, usually terminating in tight cluster of small, spherical swellings (length 18.0-32.9% SL); third dorsal spine on nape, free, only proximal 20-25% of its length connected posteriorly to body by membrane; soft dorsal with elongate base ending well before caudal fin; anal fin small, short base ending below rear end of dorsal base; caudal fin rounded, all rays branched. Pectoral fins prominent, arm-like. Pelvic fins jugular.


To 23 cm


Tasselled Anglerfish are "sit-and-wait" ambush predators, and attract their unsuspectin prey by waving their worm-like lure.


Like most anglerfishes in southern Australia, females produce large demersal eggs, each attached to a rocky surface by a long filament. The male parent then covers the bunch of eggs with his body - guarding and protecting them until they hatch.


Although fairly common, Tasselled Anglerfish are extremely well camouflaged, and blend closely with red algae in their habitat.

Similar Species

The Tasselled Anglerfish, Rhycherus filamentosus, differs from Glover's Anglerfish, Rhycherus gloveri, in having a long illicium, 16.7-31.6% SL (vs, 9.9-17.6%SL in R. gloveri), the esca consisting of a pair of large tapering, worm-like appendages, with a low, broad medial flap (vs. the esca consisting of a single tapering appendage, bearing short filaments within a "V- shaped" depression along its inner margin, and a tight cluster of more elongate filaments arising from its base in R. gloveri).


The specific name is from the Latin filamentosus (= filamentous) in reference to the skin filaments densely covering the head and body.

Species Citation

Chironectes filamentosus Castelnau 1872, Proc. Zool. Acclim. Soc. Vict. 1: 244. Type locality: Gulf St Vincent, South Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Tasselled Anglerfish, Rhycherus filamentosus (Castelnau 1872)


Arnold, R.J. & Pietsch, T.W. 2012. Evolutionary history of frogfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae): A molecular approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 117-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2011.09.012

Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. No. II. Note on some South Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria Vol 1: 243-248 See ref at BHL

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

McCoy, F. 1886. Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria. Decade 13. Melbourne : George Robertson Vol. 2 74-118 1 fig. pls 121-130. (described as Chironectes bifurcatus) See ref at BHL

McCulloch, A.R. 1916. Ichthyological items. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 5: 58-69 figs 1-4 pls 7-9

Ogilby, J.D. 1907. Some new pediculate fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 20: 17-25 (as Rhycherus wildii) See ref at BHL

Pietsch, T.W. 1984. A review of the frogfish genus Rhycherus with the description of a new species from Western and South Australia. Copeia 1984(1): 68-72 figs 1-4 https://www.jstor.org/stable/1445035

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.

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.

Pietsch, T.W. & Grobecker, D.B. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Palo Alto : Stanford University Press 420 pp.

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210006

Biology:Parental care of eggs

Depth:2-60 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:23 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map