Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Marbled Angler, Mouse Fish, Sargassum Anglerfish, Sargassum Frogfish, Sargassumfish, Sargassum-fish

A Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio, from the Sargassum Sea, SSW of Bermuda - photographed in an aquarium. Source: Eric Heupel / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


Superbly camouflaged anglerfishes covered in fleshy weed-like appendages and filaments to resemble algal fronds and branches. They usually live amongst floating mats of Sargassum algae out in the open ocean. Individuals use their arm-like pectoral fins to clamber over the seaweed.

Sargassum Fish range in colour from shades of pale yellow to brown, with irregular lines, blotches and spots to resemble their seaweed home. 

Video of a Sargassum Fishambushing unsuspecting prey.

Life in the Sargassum

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020, Histrio histrio in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Nov 2022,

Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Circumglobal in all tropical and subtropical seas except most of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Sargassum Fish are known in Australian waters from about Rockingham, Western Australia,  around the tropical north to Bar Beach, Merimbula, in southern New South Wales.

Although found in macroalgae in a range of habitats in depths to 50 m, unlike other antennariids, Sargassum Anglerfish are usually pelagic and live amongst floating mats of Sargassum algae in the open ocean. Several individuals including juveniles may live in the same algal mat. Individuals have also occasionally been found in association with other algae and seagrasses in coastal environments such as mangroves.


Dorsal fin I+I+I, 11-13, Anal fin 7-13.

Illicium much shorter than 2nd dorsal-fin spine, esca globe-shaped with short filaments. Pectoral fin arm-like, fin base long and free from body for most of its length. Skin smooth, without dermal spinules; head, body and fins with numerous fleshy appendages.


To 20 cm TL.


Variable in colour ranging from pale cream to yellow, or mottled green and brown, to match floating Saragassum macroalgae.


These voracious ambush predators feed on other fishes and crustaceans that seek refuge amongst floating Sargassum algae.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Females lay pelagic eggs in a gelatinous scroll or ribbon-like raft attached to the floating Sargassum. Larvae are pelagic.

Post-flexion and settlement stage larvae have been described.


Sargassum Fish are popular with aquarists, and are also taken as bycatch in subsistence fisheries.



Sargassum fish have a very unusual strategy to avoid predators - jumping out of the water onto the floating Sargassum when disturbed, remaining there for a while before jumping back into the water.

Species Citation

Lophius histrio Linnaeus 1758, Systema naturae I: 237. Type locality: In Pelago inter Fucum natantem [Sargasso Sea]


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-5 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Epipelagic among floating Sargassum

Max Size:20 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map