Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758)

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

A Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio, on a mooring rope at Tufi Wharf, Bootless Bay, Papua New Guinea, January 2003, depth 3 m. Source: Dave Harasti / License: All rights reserved


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. 2018, Histrio histrio in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Jan 2020,

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 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 16 cm TL.


Colour variable to match the floating Saragassum macroalgae in which it usually lives, ranging from pale cream to yellow, mottled green and brown.


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 subsistance 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: unknown.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Sargassum Fish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus 1758)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37210025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-50 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Floating Sargassum algae; oceanodromous

Max Size:16 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map