Common name: Antarctic Icefishes, White-blooded Fishes
A unique group of fishes that, unlike all other vertebrates, lacks the oxygen-binding protein haemoglobin and red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. Moreover, icefishes lack functional haemoglobin genes. 
Species are endemic to the Southern Ocean, mostly occurring in the frigid oxygen-rich waters south of the polar front, including in Australia's Antarctic zone.
The Icefish Has Clear Blood — HHMI BioInteractive Video     

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Antarctic Icefishes, CHANNICHTHYIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,


Kim, B-M., Amores, A.,  Kang, S.,  Ahn, D-H.,  Kim, J-H., et. al. 2019. Antarctic blackfin icefish genome reveals adaptations to extreme environments. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 469–478 Open access

Kock KH. 2005. Antarctic icefishes (Channichthyidae): a unique family of fishes. A review, Part I. Polar Biology 28: 862-895.

Kock KH. 2005. Antarctic icefishes (Channichthyidae): a unique family of fishes. A review, Part II. Polar Biology 28: 897-909.

Kock K-H, Pshenichnov LK & Devries AL. 2006. Evidence for egg brooding and parental care in icefish and other notothenioids in the Southern Ocean. Antarctic Science 18(2): 223–227.

Near TJ, Parker SK, Detrich HW III. 2006. A genomic fossil reveals key steps in hemoglobin loss by the antarctic icefishes. Mol Biol Evol 23: 2008-2016.

Near TJ, Pesavento JJ, Cheng CHC 2003. Mitochondrial DNA, morphology, and the phylogenetic relationships of Antarctic icefishes (Nototheniidae: Channichthyidae). Mol Phyl Evol 28: 87–98. doi: 10.1016/s1055-7903(03)00029-0

Sidell BD, O’Brien KM. 2006. When bad things happen to good fish: the loss of hemoglobin and myoglobin expression in Antarctic icefishes. J Exp Biol 209: 1791-1802.