Common name: Frogfishes, Toadfishes, Bastard Stonefish


Well-camouflaged ambush predators usually inhabiting sandy and muddy bottoms in freshwater, brackish and marine environments. Most species have broad flattened heads, wide mouths, prominent eyes and fleshy barbels, filaments and flaps.  

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Frogfishes, BATRACHOIDIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Sep 2023,

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Family Taxonomy

The family Batrachoididae comprises about 80 species in 25 genera worldwide. Three genera and 9 species are known from Australian waters, including one species introduced from North America. Most Australian species are endemic, and an additional undescribed species has been reported from northern Australia.

Family Distribution

Widely distributed in most tropical and subtropical seas. Batrachoidids generally inhabit sand or mud flats, estuaries and deeper offshore trawl grounds to at least 180 m. A few live on coral reefs and a number of Central and South American species live in freshwaters. Toadfishes are bottom dwellers and shelter in crevices holes and under rocks, or bury themselves in sand or mud.

Family Size

Small to medium-sized fishes to 57 cm. The largest Australian species reaches 27 cm.

Family Colour

Toadfishes are well-camouflaged and most are have patterns in drab shades of brown, green and grey to match their surroudings. A few species that inhabiting coral reefs are brightly coloured. Members of the subfamily Porichthyinae have rows of gleaming photophores along their sides.

Family Feeding

These ambush predators feed mostly on benthic invertebrates, including crustaceans (crabs, prawns), molluscs (octopus and bivalves), echinoderms (sand dollars) and on fishes. They sit motionless on the bottom, often at the entrances of crevices and holes. Batrachoidids have expandible stomachs and small gill openings, and are capable of engulfing large prey.

Family Reproduction

Batrachoidids lay demersal eggs and lack pelagic larvae.

Family Commercial

Although toadfishes are not food-fish in Australian waters, they are often sold in local markets in other parts of their range. Some species are collected for sale in the aquarium industry.

Family Remarks

The family name Batrachoididae is from the Greek batrakhos, meaning "frog", in reference to their characteristic 'frog-like' face.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Greenfield, D.W., Winterbottom, R. & Collette, B.B. 2008. Review of the toadfish genera (Teleostei: Batrachoididae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 4 59(15): 665-710 Download PDF

Hutchins, J.B. 1976. A revision of the Australian frogfishes. Records of the Western Australian Museum 4(1): 3-43 figs 1-17.