(Last Updated on : 23/01/2014)
Angler fish are so called because part of their dorsal fin is modified to form a long angling 'rod' complete with 'bait' called the illicium. When the fish is hungry, it remains motionless on the sea bottom, waving its illicium near its gaping mouth. An unsuspecting fish investigating the worm-like wriggling movement of the bait finds itself sucked into the mouth and devoured. Near the seashore, a typical example is Antennarius, found on the west coast.
In the deep sea, we have nearly a hundred species of anglers of the suborder Ceratioidei. Their illicium varies from a stubby lobe to a whip several times longer than the fish. Usually the tip is luminous and emits flashes of light to attract the prey.
In the dark oceans where life is never abundant, a major problem is finding a mate. Four genera of anglers have however, solved it in a unique manner. The tiny male seeks a female clamp on to her body. Its jaws and tongue grow into her tissues and fuse with them. The male's digestive tract now degenerates, and it gets its nourishment via the female's blood circulation. In fact the male virtually becomes a sperm-producing factory. As many as four males fuse with a female, anywhere on her body - the belly, head or gill-cover - and fertilize her eggs when laid.
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