Longnose Lancetfish, Alepisaurus ferox Lowe 1833

Other Names: Lancet Fish, Lancetfish

A Longnose Lancetfish, Alepisaurus ferox, photographed near Mahler Seamount, Musicians Seamounts, Central Pacific, September 2017. Source: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts. License: CC by Attribution


The large fast-swimming voracious predator with a slender body, a high, sail-like dorsal fin and enormous fangs in the mouth.

Video of a Longnose Lancetfish with a plastic bottle and other trash in its stomach.

A Longnose lancetfish speared in Carmel Bay, California.

Footage of a Longnose Lancetfish in Izu Ocean Park, Japan.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Alepisaurus ferox in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/4022

Longnose Lancetfish, Alepisaurus ferox Lowe 1833

More Info


Widespread in tropical and subtropical waters of all oceans, and found off all Australian States except the Northern Territory. lancetfishes are pelagic in the open ocean, rarely entering coastal waters.


Dorsal fin 30-45; Anal fin 13-18; Pectoral fin 14-15; pelvic fin 8-10; Vertebrae 47-52; Branchiostegal rays 7-8.

Body long and slender, depth 10 times or more in SL, with a dark midlateral keel along the rear of the body. Snout long, mouth large, with small teeth in jaws and several larger fang-like canines on lower jaw, and a row of moderate canines and two erect fangs on palatines. Dorsal fin high, sail-like, originating over gill opening, anterior rays low, followed by several elongate rays with free tips; adipose fin present. Scales absent.


Body iridescent silvery to bronze, darker above, with a dark lateral adipose keel, fins dark brown or black.


Voracious carnivore - feeds on fishes, cephalopods, tunicates and crustaceans.


Lancetfishes are synchronous hermaphrodites meaning that they have both functional male and female reproductive tissue. The species is oviparous (egg laying) with planktonic larvae.


Although not targeted, the Longnose Lancetfish is taken as bycatch in tuna longline fisheries.

Species Citation

Alepisaurus ferox Lowe, 1833, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1: 104. Type locality: Madeira.


Bray, D.J. 2017

Longnose Lancetfish, Alepisaurus ferox Lowe 1833


Ambrose, D.A. 1996. Alepisauridae: lancetfishes, pp. 379-381. In: H.G. Moser (ed.) The early stages of fishes in the California Current region. CalCOFI Atlas 33,  Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.

Choy, C.A., Portner, E., Iwane, M., Drazen, J.C. 2013. Diets of five important predatory mesopelagic fishes of the central North Pacific. Marine Ecology Progress Series 492: 169–184. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps10518 Open access

Francis, M.P. 1981. Meristic and morphometric variation in the lancet fish Alepisaurus, with notes on the distribution of A. ferox and A. brevirostris. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 8(3): 403-408.

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Families Paralepididae, Alepisauridae. pp. 271-275 figs 242-245 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.

Hughes, G.M. & M. Morgan. 1973. The structure of fish gills in relation to their respiratory function. Biological Reviews 48(3): 419-475.  

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

Kubota, T. & Uyeno, T. 1970. Food habits of lancetfish Alepisaurus ferox (order Myctophiformes) in Suruga Bay, Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 17: 22-28.

Jantz, L.A., Morishige, C.L., Bruland, G.L., Lepczyk, C.L. 2013. Ingestion of plastic marine debris by longnose lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox) in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin 69(1–2): 97-104, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.01.019. Abstract

Lowe, R.T. 1833. A description of Alepisaurus, a new genus of fishes. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1: 104.

Matarese, A.C., A.W. Kendall, D.M. Blood & M.V. Vinter. 1989. Laboratory guide to early life history stages of Northeast Pacific fishes. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 80:1-652.

Moteki, M., Fujita, K. & Kohno, H. 1993. Stomach contents of longnose lancetfish, Alepisaurus ferox, in Hawaiian and central equatorial Pacific waters. J. Tokyo Univ. of Fish. 80(1): 121-137.  

Orlov, A.M. & V.A. Ul'chenko. 2002. A hypothesis to explain onshore records of long-nose lancetfish Alepisaurus ferox (Alepisauridae, Teleostei) in the North Pacific Ocean. Mar. Freshwater Res. 53: 303-306.

Paxton, J.R. 2010. Alepisaurus ferox. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 February 2014.

Post, A., 1984. Alepisauridae. p. 494-495. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. UNESCO, Paris. Vol. 1.

Potier, M., Marsac, F., Cherel, Y., Lucas, V., Sabatié, R., Maury, O. & Ménard, F. 2007. Forage fauna in the diet of three large pelagic fishes (lancetfish, swordfish and yellowfin tuna) in the western equatorial Indian Ocean. Fisheries Research 83: 60-72, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2006.08.020 Abstract

Potier, M., Menard, F., Cherel, Y., Lorrain, A., Sabatie, R., Marsac, F. 2007. Role of pelagic crustaceans in the diet of the longnose lancetfish Alepisaurus ferox in the Seychelles waters. African Journal of Marine Science 29: 113-122,

Romanov, E.V. & V.V. Zamorov. 2002. First record of a yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) from the stomach of a longnose lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox). Fish. Bull. 100(2): 386-389.

Romanov, E.V. & V.V. Zamorov. 2007. Regional feeding patterns of the Longnose Lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox Lowe, 1833) of the Western Indian Ocean. Western Indian Ocean J. Mar. Sci. 6(1): 37-56.

Romanov, E.V., F. Ménard, V.V. Zamorov & M. Potier. 2008. Variability in conspecific predation among longnose lancetfish Alepisaurus ferox in the western Indian Ocean. Fish. Sci. 74: 62-68.

Smith, C.L. & Atz, E.H. 1973. Hermaphroditism in the mesopelagic fishes Osmosudis lowei and Alepisaurus ferox. Copeia 1973: 41-44.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37128001


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-1830 m

Habitat:Epipelagic, bathypelagic

Max Size:215 cm TL; 9 kg

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CAAB distribution map