Cosmopolitan Whipnose, Gigantactis vanhoeffeni Brauer 1902

A female Cosmopolitan Whipnose, Gigantactis vanhoeffeni, from Taiwan, ASIZP 61799 . Source: Ho, Hsuan-Ching / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

A large dark brown to black whipnose with a relatively short illicium (length <120% SL), relatively short caudal-fin rays (<45% SL), and the esca with a black spiny distal elongation. Males are unknown.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Gigantactis vanhoeffeni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024,

Cosmopolitan Whipnose, Gigantactis vanhoeffeni Brauer 1902

More Info


Recorded from off northeastern Tasmania, depth 825-1100 m. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters.


Dorsal fin 5-7; Anal fin 5-7; Pectoral fin 17-18. 
Illicium relatively short, length less than 120% SL (71-112% SL in specimens greater than 12.5 cm SL), with no basal filaments; esca covered in minute spines, bearing distally-flattened papillae, and with an elongate, darkly pigmented distal prolongation attached to escal bulb; short, black filaments concentrated around tip of the prolongation; escal bulb with 2-3 unpigmented filaments; close-set pair of small appendages on posterior margin of illicium some distance below bulb. Dentary teeth in three longitudinal series, relatively long (longest 2.6-5.0% SL). Length of caudal-fin rays less than 45% SL.


Stomach contents include bony fishes and squid. The large teeth positioned outside the jaws enable this species to seize large prey.


Female and male gigantactinids are extremely sexually dimorphic. The dwarf males attach to the much larger females for a small period of time using pincer-like denticles - they do not permanently attach to females.

Similar Species

Differs from other Gigantactis species in having a relatively short illicium with no basal filaments, and in the morphology of the escal bulb.

Species Citation

Gigantactis vanhoeffeni Brauer 1902, Zoologischer Anzeiger 25(668): 296. Type locality: East of Zanzibar, Tanzania, 0 to 2500 m. [5°42'S, 43°36'E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2022


Australian Faunal Directory

Cosmopolitan Whipnose, Gigantactis vanhoeffeni Brauer 1902


Anderson, M.E. & Leslie, R.W. 2001. Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute 70: 1-32.

Bertelsen, E., Pietsch, T.W. & Lavenberg, R.J. 1981. Ceratioid anglerfishes of the family Gigantactinidae: morphology, systematics, and distribution. Natural History Museum of  Los Angeles County Contributions in Science 332(6): 1–74 See ref at BHL

Brauer, A. 1902. Diagnosen von neuen Tiefseefischen, welche von der Valdivia-Expedition gesammelt sind. Zoologischer Anzeiger 25(668): 277-298 See ref at BHL

Knudsen, S. 2015. Gigantactis vanhoeffeni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T60470687A60788211. Downloaded on 11 August 2017.

Pietsch, T.W. 1999. Families Caulophrynidae, Neoceratiidae, Melanocetidae, Himantolophidae, Diceratiidae, Oneirodidae, Thaumatichthyidae, Centrophrynidae, Ceratiidae, Gigantactinidae, Linophrynidae. pp. 2026-2037 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Pietsch, T.W. 2005. Dimorphism, parasitism, and sex revisited: modes of reproduction among deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes). Ichthyological Research 52(3): 207-236.

Pietsch, T.W. 2009. Oceanic Anglerfishes. Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea. Berkeley and Los Angeles : University of California Press pp. i-xii + 1-557.

Stewart, A.L. & Pietsch, T.W. 2015. 122 Family Gigantactinidae. pp. 932-936 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37217005

Behaviour:42 cm SL (female)

Biology:Bioluminescent (females)

Biology:Males free-living

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:300-5300 m

Habitat:Mesopelagic, bathypelagic

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