Prickly Anglerfish, Echinophryne crassispina McCulloch & Waite 1918

Other Names: Prickly Frogfish, Thick-spined Anglerfish

Prickly Anglerfish, Echinophryne crassispina . Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A very small anglerfish with a short body densely covered in tiny spinules, a short tail base, and an illicium or ‘fishing rod’ without a distinct lure.

The Prickly Anglerfish is yellowish, orange to reddish-brown with pale and darker markings on the face, illicium, before the soft dorsal fin, at pectoral-fin base, and tail base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020, Echinophryne crassispina in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Mar 2024,

Prickly Anglerfish, Echinophryne crassispina McCulloch & Waite 1918

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Endemic to southern and southeastern Australia from Jervis Bay, New South Wales, northern Tasmania, Victoria, and across to the southwestern side of the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.

Inhabits shallow rocky reefs, often under rocks, ledges and around jetties at depths to 20 m.


Dorsal fin I+I+I, 15-16; Anal fin 8-10; Caudal fin 9; Pectoral fin 10-11; Pelvic fin 5.

Body short, deep, tail base short; illicium or 'fishing rod' without a distinct lure; body and fins densely covered in tiny divided (bifurcate) spinules of varying lengths.


To 7 cm.


Body colour variable, typically cream, yellow or orange (or even slate grey) with dark-brown reticulations and marbling. Head with a whitish, scab-like pattern on face; anal and caudal fins with a conspicuous dark-brown band and marginal dark bands.


Feeds mostly on small decapod crustaceans.


Breeds early in summer, and females lay about 150 eggs onto a rocky surface. The eggs attached to each other and to the substrate by fine filaments. Males guard the developing eggs by wrapping them in a 'pocket' formed between their body and tail.


Prickly Anglerfish are collected for sale in the aquarium industry. Under the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995, Fisheries (Scalefish) Rules 2004 - Regulation 100, the holder of a fishing licence (personal) must not be in possession of more than 3 Prickly Anglerfish in Tasmanian waters.


Echinophryne is from the Greek echinos, meaning 'sea urchin' or 'hedgehog', and phryne meaning toad. 

Species Citation

Echinophryne crassispina McCulloch & Waite 1918, Rec. South Aust. Mus. 1(1): 67, pl. 6, fig. 2. Type locality: Spencer Gulf, SA.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Prickly Anglerfish, Echinophryne crassispina McCulloch & Waite 1918


Arnold, R.J. & T.W. Pietsch. 2012. Evolutionary history of frogfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennariidae): a molecular approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62:117-129.

Baker, J.L. 2009. Marine Species of Conservation Concern in South Australia: Volume 1 - Bony and Cartilaginous Fishes. Report for the South Australian Working Group for Marine Species of Conservation Concern.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

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. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

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

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. & Waite, E.R. 1918. Some new and little known fishes from South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum 1(1): 39-78 figs 26-31 pls 2-7 See ref at BHL

Pietsch, T.W. 1984. The genera of frogfishes (family Antennariidae). Copeia 1984(1): 27-44 fig. 1

Pietsch, T.W. 1994. Family Antennariidae. pp. 285-297 figs 254-264 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Pietsch, T.W. 2008. Antennariidae. pp. 364-374 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Pietsch, T.W. & Grobecker, D.B. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Palo Alto : Stanford University Press 420 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210005

Behaviour:Males guard eggs

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Rocky reefs, sponges

Max Size:7 cm


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CAAB distribution map