Clown Frogfish: Habitat, Description and Facts

Underwater fish are majestic and sometimes creepy. The strangest-looking fish is probably the clown frogfish. Their strange facial features and weird looks can give you a negative impression of them. However, you would be surprised to know how fascinating they can be.

A clown frogfish lives in tropical and subtropical environments such as coral reefs and rocky terrain. Depending on their species, you would also find them in both shallow and deep water. They live by eating small animals. However, clown frogfish can’t chew because they don’t have teeth. That’s why they swallow the whole animal. They are extremely solitary and only find a mate during the mating process.

This blog will let you know everything about clown frogfish facts. So, if you are curious, then read the whole blog.

About Clown Frogfish

The scientific name of clown frogfish is Antennariidae. They are members of the family Lophiiformes, also known as frogfish. Clown frogfish have very distinctive body features. There are only 50 types of clown frogfish species available. However, most live in shallow water, and few live deep in the ocean.

Clown frogfish can range in size from 5 cm to 40 cm, depending on their species. They can get 15 cm tall as well. They have small legs like frogs, which is why they are named clown frogfish. The clown frogfish is covered with soft skin, and their skin is filled with dermal spinules.

Is Clown Frogfish A Frog or Fish?

The name “frogfish” can be confusing and misleading to you. You might think clown frogfish are frogs, but they are actually marine fish. Frogs are members of the phylum Amphibia, and clown frogfish are members of the phylum Antennariidae.

Clown Frogfish living

“Can clownfish jump?” is another question that can bother you. Clown frogfish have legs like frogs, but those legs can’t help them jump. Clown frogfish can jump and expel water through their gills. Clown frogfish first consume a lot of water, which they then “jet propel” through their gills.

Can Clown Frogfish Walk?

Although clown frogfish are born with legs, they technically cannot walk. Clownfrog fish do not have swim bladders to swim like other fish. They use their fin to move around and always stay on the bottom of the ocean.

Their legs sometimes stick to the bottom of the ocean or to corals. Fins can create the appearance of swimming while moving around. However, their lack of a swim bladder prevented them from swimming.

Do Clown Frogfish Glow?

Sometimes the lure of clown frogfish can glow to catch prey. Clown frogfish go into the dark and make the lure glow to attract prey for hunting. But their whole body does not glow. Other than that, clown frogfish has another distinctive feature: camouflage.

Clown frogfish can change their color to blend with their surroundings. Then they use their lure to capture other small animals. Clown frogfish can change their color into yellow, black, dark orange, and most orange shades.

Do Clown Frogfish Change Color?

According to research, clown frogfish are hard to spot due to their camouflage, and since they may assume a wide range of hues, they can be much more challenging to detect. Even among members of the same species, wide visual variation can exist.

Furthermore, most frogfishes can rapidly alter their coloration (usually within a few weeks). They are able to convincingly portray nearby sponges, rocks, corals, and tunicates. Their skin tone will darken as a result of adjusting to a new environment with a higher concentration of darkness.

Clown Frogfish

The skin patterns of frogfish typically match the pores (ostia) of sponges or even the openings of sea squirts; black frogfishes are commonly seen on black sponges or near black tunicates, while yellow frogfishes can be found inside yellow sponges. Frogfishes are among the most highly evolved examples of “lie-in-wait” predation due to their aggressive mimicry and feeding behavior.

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You may notice a frogfish in an aquarium taking on the color of a nearby sponge or coral in order to better fit in. Over the course of a month, it is observed a blackish frogfish with orange dots change into a brown frogfish with black markings.

Some frogfish species, including all Antennatus species, do not display color morphing; instead, different individuals of the same species may be slightly darker or lighter in tone.

How Do Clown Frogfish Protect Themselves from Predators?

When a clown frogfish feels threatened, it can go faster by splashing water through its gills. Clown frogfish are not afraid of their predators, as they are their only threat. Clown frogfish are not social fish; thus, they do not stay with other clown frogfish.

In most cases, they move faster or blend into camouflage to protect themselves from predators.

Anatomical Analysis of Clown Frogfish

The clown frogfish is a small marine creature ranging in size from 5 cm to 40 cm. They can grow as tall as 15 cm.

Family nameAntennariidae  
Order nameLophiiformes
Class nameActinopteriigye  
Common nameWarty Frogfish or Anglerfish  
Scientific nameAntennarius maculatus  


The skin of clown frogfish is soft and covered with small wart-like protuberances. Their body is unstreamlined and scaleless. Moreover, some clown frogfish have bumpy bifurcated spinules that look like hair. They have two legs that look like frogs’ legs, which helps them stick to the bottom of the ocean.


Clown frogfish have huge mouths, which can widen according to the size of their prey. They don’t have teeth, which means they can’t chew their food. Hence, clown frogfish only gulp, swallow, and let their stomach juice digest their food.


The first three fins of the clown frogfish are called the illicium, or “rod,” which is topped with the “lure.” The lure can glow whenever the clown frogfish wants to attract its prey. The illicium or rude may have stripped markings at times. In some clown frogfish, the fin is in front of their mouth, shaped like a shrimp. The clown frogfish attracts prey by showing its shrimp-shaped fin. The esca or lure can be generated if lost or cut accidentally.


Crown frogfish have small, round gills, which help them to move around faster. Since crown frogfish cannot swim or walk, they expel a huge amount of water from the gill and act as jet propellers. The gill is located behind their pectoral fins. Clown frogfish control their buoyancy with the help of their gas bladders.

Where Do Clown Frogfish Live?

You can see crown frogfish mostly in tropical areas and sometimes in subtropical areas. Crown frogfish are most prevalent in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are usually found in areas where the surface of the water temperature is 20 degrees celsius or 68 F.

In some places, crown frogfish can survive beyond 68 F, such as the Atlantic coast of the United States, the south coast of Australia, the Azores, the Canary Islands, the Madeira region, Costal Japan, and many more. Crown frogfish are also present in Mexico. Crown frogfish are found in many different species in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Most of the time, 300-foot-deep oceans have crown frogfish because they like to live in deep water. However, clown frogfish can be found in coral reef areas and other shallow water areas. 

Clown Frogfish

Can Clown Frogfish Live with Other Fishes?

Clown frogfish are not social at all. They do not like to stay with other fish. Because they can kill one another, their species, on the other hand, only look for food and avoid other frogfish. Unlike other fish which stay in a group, clown frogfish love to live alone. They are basically loner fish who roam around to find food.

Can You Keep a Clown Frogfish as A Pet?

Yes, you can keep them, but it is not advised. That is because keeping a clown frogfish as a pet can be challenging. The water’s surface temperature must be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, they live in dark places (100-300ft deep), so keeping them in an aquarium is a bad idea.

Not just that, clown frogfish need live food, they are predators, and they hunt their prey. Clown frogfish will not eat small round fish food from the supermarket.

What Do Clown Frogfish Eat?

Clown frogfish eat small fish crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs, and sometimes they eat each other. They camouflage themselves and wait for their prey to come. They can sometimes attract prey with their glowing lure.

They also eat worms, cephalopods, crustaceans, and small fishes. Clown frogfish will sometimes even eat larger animals such as mantis shrimps.

How Do Clown Frogfish Eat?

Clown frogfish are fascinating animals due to their unique method of feeding. It waits patiently for its undetected prey in a state of perfect concealment. Depending on the species, the lure may be employed in a number of ways to entice potential prey. They use a chemical attractant, so they can occasionally just wait for a victim to wander too close.

Clown Frogfish

They can eat 2 times their body size and can swallow their prey in one quick gulp. Clown frogfish tend to eat at night because there is less competition for food during this time. A blitzkrieg assault is launched when the target is within reach. The frogfish’s reflexive mouth opening creates suction inside the mouth, immediately sucking in the prey.

When compared to other fish, its “gape and suck” takes the shortest amount of time, at roughly 6/1,000 of a second. In addition, frogfish have been witnessed stalking their victims by slowly making their way toward them along the ocean floor.

Being toothless, the frogfish must rely on its digestive juices to break down its food. It is not uncommon to witness the prey spasm and writhe against the walls of the predator’s stomach as it nears its final moments of life.

Do Clown Frogfish Have Teeth?

Clown frogfish do not have teeth. That is why they cannot chew their food. Clown frogfish are born with no teeth, which makes them swallow the whole prey alive. Swallowing the prey alive might sometime cause their death. However, the lack of teeth makes them gulp the whole prey alive and let the stomach juice do the work.

What To Feed Clown Frogfish at The Water Tank

In the first place, you have to keep a steady supply of large live foods such as goldfish, ghost shrimp, etc., which can be time-consuming and expensive. Then feed the prey first with maximum nutritional value, such as fortified spirulina flakes, to ensure the best quality of the live food. If you want the prey to survive the salty water, you must hope that it does not end up in the mouth of a frogfish.

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How Long Do Clown Frogfish Live?

It is difficult to tell how long clown frogfish live because they get hunted by predators. Or, sometimes, divers can accidentally kill clown frogfish. Clown frogfish can live up to 20 years in some cases. It is rare to see clownfish living for 20 years.

Can Clown Frogfish Live Without Water?

Clown frogfish live deep under the water. Which means they have never been to the land. It is the very simple answer that no fish can live without water. Clow frogfish cannot even live in tap water. You need salt water for clown frogfish to survive.

Reproduction System of Clown Frogfish

The reproduction system of clown frogfish is interesting. The male clown frogfish gets killed by the female fish after reproduction.

The male gently prods the female with his mouth during the free-spawning courtship ritual before remaining close to her cloaca. He swims beside and slightly behind her. Just before spawning, the female clown frogfish begins swimming above the ocean’s surface. Before diving, they release their eggs and sperm at the highest point of their swim.

It is not uncommon for the male to pull the eggs from the female with his mouth. The partners leave right away after mating because the smaller male would probably get eaten if they don’t.

Do Clown Frogfish Lay Eggs?

Clownfish lay eggs, and the eggs, which are 0.5–1 mm (0.020–0.039 in) in diameter, cohere into a long ribbon or gelatinous mass that can grow up to a meter (3.3 ft) long and 16 cm (6.5 in) wide in sargassum fish. These egg masses may contain as many as 180,000 eggs.

Few species lay their eggs on solid objects like plants or rocks; these include the genera Rhycherus, Phyllophryne, and Lophiocharon. The male of almost all species is responsible for protecting the eggs, but only some species actually do this. Many species carry their eggs in their pectoral fins, such as the three-spot frogfish, whose eggs are attached to the male, and members of the genus Histiophryne.

Can You Eat Clown Frogfish?

It is not common to eat clown frogfish, and they will surely not taste good if you try to eat them. Also, people are not allowed to eat clown frogfish. The dish won’t be appetizing because the clown frogfish’s face is creepy.

Are Clown Frogfish Poisonous?

Not every type of frogfish is poisonous. The hairy clown frogfish can be poisonous to eat, but there are other species available that are not poisonous. You should still avoid eating clown frogfish because no research has established that they are not poisonous.


You are lucky if you ever encounter a crown frogfish because divers rarely see them. However, their diminutive stature and peculiar facial features can be intriguing and fascinating.

Clown frogfish are called “spawn of Satan” because of their camouflage feature. If you are one of those lucky people who got to see the clown frogfish, don’t harm them. Our environment could be harmed if they are damaged because they are an asset to our ocean.

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