Marine Biology

Diet and Feeding Habits of the Monkfish



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The monkfish is a fish with many interesting attributes, and ironically, is a fish with many names. Technically, a monkfish is "a bottom-dwelling anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius, family Lophiidae) of European waters." But what really, does this mean?

A monkfish, also known as a goosefish or anglerfish, is a bottom-dwelling fish that is found in the coastal Atlantic area of the United States. It is considered by many people to be exceptionally ugly. This fish is chocolate-brown on top, with a white fleshy body underneath. Yet beneath this "ugly" exterior, the monkfish has a number of interesting and creative attributes that make it a successful creature of the sea. 

The monkfish lives on the ocean floor, typically on mud, sand, or shell habitats. They use their modified spines to bait smaller fish. As a bottom-feeder fish, the monkfish lies in wait at the bottom of the ocean, until an organism comes on by. At that moment, the monkfish quickly captures its prey and enjoys its meal. 

Monkfish have been observed as large as four feet long. They are opportunistic feeders, which means they will pretty much eat anything that they can. This includes fish, shrimp, and even trash like soda cans! There have even been a few documented cases of cannibalism, in which hungry monkfish have even eaten their own. 

While monkfish will eat nearly anything, they also have built-in mechanisms to avoid being eaten themselves! While most of the monkfish is composed of its head (hence another one of its nicknames, the headfish), only the tail of a monkfish is edible. If a predator bites the tail of a monkfish, it will try to escape and survive, leaving the edible tail behind.

Despite its ugly appearance, the monkfish is known to have excellent texture and a distinct flavor. It is an excellent source of low-fat protein and Vitamin B. The taste of monkfish has also been compared favorably to lobster. For this reason, it has taken on the nickname "the poor man's lobster."

While the monkfish has been ridiculed throughout the years for its ugly appearance, there is much more to the monkfish than meets the eye. Beneath this unappealing exterior is a unique fish with an interesting story that could be your next meal. For more information about the monkfish and its legendary appearance, there are a number of images available online, as well as some interesting statistics.

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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.zeuscat.com/andrew/personal/info/monkfish/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/files/WC_monkfish.pdf
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/monkfish/species_pages/monkfish.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/monkfish/species_pages/monkfish.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/files/WC_monkfish.pdf
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/read/popdy/monkfish/Survey2004/frequent_questions.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/read/popdy/monkfish/Survey2004/frequent_questions.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/files/WC_monkfish.pdf
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.sportfishermen.com/2010/06/one-mans-garbage-fish-another-mans-treasure/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/food/monkfish
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/read/popdy/monkfish/Survey2004/frequent_questions.html