Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius (White 1790)

Other Names: Blotchtail Toadfish, Brown Frogfish, Dubious Frogfish

The face of an Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius, in Chowder Bay, Sydney Harbour. Source: Graham Short. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


A mottled brown to pale grey or a darker bluish-grey frogfish with two broad bands and small scattered spots and blotches on the body. Juveniles are much paler with broad dark bands.

Eastern Frogfish have large eyes on top of the broad, flattened head, and an enormous wide mouth surrounded by fleshy flaps and barbels. They have expandable stomachs and can swallow very large prey.

Video of an Eastern Frogfish with young in the Shiprock Aquatic Reserve, Port Hacking, May 2013.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Batrachomoeus dubius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2835

Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius (White 1790)

More Info


Endemic to eastern Australia, from Swains Reefs, Queensland, to Kiama, New South Wales, in depths of  1-150 m. The species is relatively common in central New South Wales.

The Eastern Frogfish are found in estuaries and on inshore reefs, and have been trawled in 140 m. These bottom-dwellers usually shelter on rocky reefs amongst macroalgae, or under rocks and in caves. They are rarely seen out in the open and are possibly nocturnal.


Dorsal fin III, 19-20; Anal fin 16-17; Pectoral fin 22-23; Caudal fin (segmented) 13-15; Lateral line pores 25-32; Vertebrae 9 + 17- 18.


To a maximum length of 35 cm TL.


Colour variable, from a mottled brown to pale grey or a darker bluish-grey, with two broad bands across the body and small scattered spots and blotches . Juveniles are much paler with broad dark bands.


Ambush predators - feed on a range of crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms and fishes. They have very expandable stomachs and swallow their prey whole.


Females lay their eggs onto rocky surfaces in caves, and she protects the developing eggs and the young for a period of time after they hatch.


Eastern Frogfish may make croaking sounds when captured.

Although some frogfish species have venomous spines, none occur in Australian waters.

Species Citation

Lophius dubius White 1790, Voyage to New South Wales: 265. Type locality: near Sydney, NSW.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius (White 1790)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (as Pseudobatrachus striatus)

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

De Vis, C.W. 1884. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 3. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(3): 537-547 (as Thalassophryne coeca)

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Greenfield, D.W. 1999. Family Batrachoididae. pp. 1999-2003 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 1397-2068 pp.

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

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

Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. pp. 433.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. pp. 437.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762. 

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(4): 510-629 pls 13-14 (as Batrachus dubius)

Ogilby, J.D. 1906. Honorary curator's report. Amateur Fishing Club Association of Queensland. Annual Report 1905–6: 3-13 (as Pelophiletor caloundrae)

Ogilby, J.D. 1908. Revision of the Batrachoididae of Queensland. Annals of the Queensland Museum 9(2): 43-57 (as Batrachomoeus minor)

Richardson, J. 1844. Ichthyology. pp. 1-16 pls 1-6, 7-8 (parts), 9-10 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp. (as Batrachus dubius)

White, J. 1790. Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non-descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. London : Debrett 299 pp. 65 pls

Whitley, G.P. 1957. A kennel of frogfishes. Australian Museum Magazine 12(5): 139-142

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37205008

Depth:1-150 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:35 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map