Latin name

Lophius americanus

Other names

American goosefish, anglerfish, monkfish, lotte, bellyfish, frogfish, sea devil, American angler; French: baudroie d’Amerique; Spanish: rape americano.


The American goosefish is dark brown, with a mottling of dark spots and blotches. It has almost armlike pectoral fins located about midway in its greatly flattened body. Small gill openings are just behind them. The head is extremely large for its body size, and the mouth is cavernous, filled with sharp, curved teeth and opening upward. On the tip of the first spine is a flap of flesh that serves as a lure for attracting small fish within grasping range of the mouth. While waiting for prey, the angler sometimes burrowing into the sand and attracting its prey with its movements. The stalker grabs and swallows the swimmer's prey with great speed. If the prey comes close enough, the goosefish opens its huge mouth and sucks its victim inside.


This species ranges from the Grand Banks and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. A similar but smaller species, the blackfin goosefish (L. gastrophysus), occurs in deeper waters from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and south to Argentina.


Individuals are found from inshore areas to depths exceeding 435 fathoms. Highest concentrations occur between 38 and 55 fathoms and in deeper water at about 100 fathoms. Seasonal migrations occur, apparently related to spawning and food availability.


The growth rate is fairly rapid and the same for both sexes until about 4 years of age, when they are about 19 inches long. Females grow a little faster and live longer, about 12 years, growing to just over 39 inches in length. Their maximum weight is 50 pounds, and the world record for catches is 49 pounds 12 ounces.

Life history and Behavior

Sexual maturity occurs between 3 and 4 years of age. Spawning occurs from spring to early fall, depending on latitude.

Food and feeding habits

Carnivorous and voracious, it feeds mainly on fish; its stomachs include herring, smelt, cod, haddock, various sea bass, plaice, stingrays, etc. Also eats crabs, shrimp, mollusks, worms and other invertebrates. Sometimes even seabirds are noted in the stomachs.


Females lay non-sticky, buoyant mucoid eggs that can reach 39 feet long and 5 feet wide. Fertility is up to 1.3 million eggs. The eggs are laid in ribbons that form a broad gelatinous stratum containing only one layer of eggs. The ribbons are 7.6-12.2 m long, 30-90 cm wide and about 5 mm thick. The eggs are pelagic, spherical, 1.6-1.8 mm in diameter, and there are fat blobs 0.4-0.6 mm in diameter. The current carries ribbons of roe near the water surface.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Lophiiformes
Family Lophiidae
Genus Lophius
Species L. americanus
Conservation status Critically Endangered
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 30
Maximum body weight, kg 22.6
Maximum length, cm 140
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Tags: Goosefish