Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops melanostomus (Caruso 1989)

Other Names: Tadpole Coffinfish

Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops melanostomus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A distinctive coffinfish with a dark greyish to black body, a long tail base (caudal peduncle) and a black lining to the mouth. The Tadpole Coffinfish is found off Western Australia in depths of 700-1700 metres. Coffinfishes use a small shaggy mop-like lure on the frotn of the head to attract prey. Like shallow-water anglerfishes (family Antennariidae), they usually 'walk' over the bottom on their modified pelvic and pectoral fins.

Video of a Tadpole Coffinfish filmed in about 1417 metres on Australia's North West Shelf.

Click here to see images and fantastic video footage of  Chaunacops coloratus (a species not found in Australia) filmed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) for the first time on a sea mount off the Central California Coast.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chaunacops melanostomus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2020,

Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops melanostomus (Caruso 1989)

More Info


Known from tropical and subtropical waters of the Eastern Indian Ocean. In Australia, the Tadpole Coffinfish has been recorded from off Wedge Point to off the Northwest Shelf (Western Australia), and on the Lord Howe Rise in the Tasman Sea; depth range in Australian waters is 700-1700 metres.


To a maximum length of 10 cm.


Coffinfishes are ambush predators, and wave their mop-like lure to attract prey.


Almost nothing is known of the biology of this species.



Chaunacops melanostomus was orignally described as Bathychaunax melanostomus.

Similar Species

Differs from all other species found in Australian waters (all belonging to the genus Chaunax) in having a broader head, relatively widely-spaced spines covering the body, fewer lateral line pores, a longer illicium, plus there are a number of skeletal differences.


The species is named melanostomus in reference to the black pigment lining the mouth that is unique to this species.

Species Citation

Bathychaunax melanostomus Caruso, 1989, Bull. Mar. Sci. 45(3): 575, figs 1A, 2. Type locality: south-eastern Indian Ocean [16°55´S, 114°53´E].


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Atlas of Living Australia

Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops melanostomus (Caruso 1989)


Caruso, J.H. 1989. A review of the Indo-Pacific members of the deep-water chaunacid anglerfish genus Bathychaunax, with the description of a new species from the eastern Indian Ocean (Pisces: Lophiiformes). Bulletin of Marine Science 45: 574-579 (as Bathychaunax coloratus)

Caruso, J.H. 1989. Systematics and distribution of Atlantic chaunacid anglerfishes (Pisces: Lophiiformes). Copeia 1989(1): 153-165 (as Bathychaunax coloratus)

Caruso, J.H., Ho, H-C. & T.W. Pietsch. 2006. Chaunacops Garman, 1899, a senior objective synonym of Bathychaunax Caruso, 1989 (Lophiiformes: Chaunacoidei: Chaunacidae). Copeia 2006(1): 120-121.

Ho, H.-C. & McGrouther, M. 2015. A new anglerfish from eastern Australia and New Caledonia (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae: Chaunacops), with new data and submersible observation of Chaunacops melanostomusJournal of Fish Biology 86(3): 940-951. Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37211005

Depth:1320-1760 m

Habitat:Bottom dweller

Max Size:10 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map