Histrio histrio

Histrio histrio (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Names

Antenarius sargasowy (Polish), Antennaire des Sargasses (French), Baudroie (French), Frogfish (Portuguese), Frogfish (English), Gali-kendi, Gouthere-mas, Hanaokoze (Japanese), Houéolonon, Marbled angler (English), Marmorerad sargassoulk (Swedish), Mouse fish (English), Novu lovo, Peixe-doutor (Portuguese), Peixe-pescador (Portuguese), Pez sargazo (Castilian), Poisson-pêcheur des Sargasses (French), Pêcheur des Sargasses (French), Rana (Castilian), Sapo (Castilian), Sargasso-tudsefisk (Danish), Sargassofisch (German), Sargassoulke (Norwegian), Sargassovyi morskoi kloun (Russian), Sargassum anglerfish (English), Sargassum fish (English), Sargassum frogfish (English), Sargassumfish (English), Sargassumvis (Afrikaans), Tångulk (Swedish), саргассовый (Russian), 斑紋光躄魚, 斑纹光躄鱼, 繡裸躄魚, 绣裸躄鱼, 裸躄魚, 裸躄鱼, 노랑씬벵이 (Korean)

Languages: English


Comprehensive Description

The Sargassum Fish (Histrio histrio) is a member of the frogfish family (Antennariidae), a group of small, globular fishes with stalked, grasping, limb-like pectoral fins with small gill openings behind the base, a trapdoor-like mouth high on the head, and a "fishing lure" (formed by the first dorsal spine) on the snout. The Sargassum Fish occurs worldwide in tropical and warm-temperate waters. It typically lives in open waters in close association with floating Sargassum Weed (Sargassum natans and S. fluitans), but is frequently blown into nearshore and bay waters during storms. (Boschung et al. 1983; Robins and Ray 1986)  Although the Sargassum Fish is capable of swimming quite rapidly, it often crawls through the Sargassum Weed, using its pectoral fins like arms (Rothschild 2004).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo



The Sargassum Fish is unscaled and (unusually for a frogfish) as a consequence has skin that is smooth rather than sandpapery. Its color is variable and changeable, depending on the amount of light and the mood of the fish. It is typically boldly patterned with mahogany brown on a yellowish to olive background, its mottled pattern helping it blend in with the Sargassum Weed in which it lives, but it may be almost black or predominantly yellow with dark spots and blotches. It has many fleshy tabs, the largest on the chin and belly. Its "lure" is a fleshy bulb with filaments attached to a short "pole". The lure is formed by the first dorsal spine; the second and third dorsal spines are large, depressible, and covered with skin bearing fleshy cirri (fingerlike protuberances).  (Robins and Ray 1986).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo


The Sargassum Fish may reach a length of 20 cm, but rarely exceeds about half this size (Robins and Ray 1986).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo



The Sargassum Fish (Histrio histrio) occurs worldwide in tropical and warm-temperate waters. In the western Atlantic, it is found from Massachusetts, Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico and West Indies to southeastern Brazil. (Boschung et al. 1983; Robins and Ray 1986)  A small number of specimens have been collected on several occasions off the Kona coast of Hawaii. The discovery of two small juveniles (both about 10 mm SL) here indicates that these  specimens are the products of a breeding population rather than migrants from the west. (Pietsch et al. 1992).

The Sargassum Fish has the broadest longitudinal and latitudinal range of any frogfish. Its distribution largely coincides with that of floating Sargassum Weed, with which it is apparently an obligate associate. In the western Atlantic, this species extends from the Gulf of Maine to the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay. On the eastern side of the Atlantic, it is apparently quite rare; Pietsch and Grobecker (1987) reported specimens only from the Azores and off West Africa. An old record from Vardo, northern Norway, is likely based on a straggler carried northward by the North Atlantic and Norwegian currents. In the Indian Ocean, the Sargassum Fish is known from the tip of South Africa eastward to India and Sri Lanka, with verified records from the Red Sea, Madagascar, Reunion, and Mauritius. In the western Pacific and on the western margin of the Pacific plate, it occurs from Hokkaido, Japan, to tropical Australia (about as far south as Perth in the west and Sydney in the east), including Taiwan, the Philippines and Moluccas, and the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. There are rare but verified records from Guam, Tonga, New Caledonia, and the North Island of New Zealand. (Pietsch and Grobecker 1987; Pietsch et al. 1992 and references therein)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo



The only commercial value of the Sargassum Fish is in the aquarium trade (Boschung et al. 1983).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo


  • Antenarius mesogallicus (Valenciennes, 1837) (synonym)
  • Antennarius barbatulus (Eydoux & Souleyet, 1850) (synonym)
  • Antennarius biocellatus (non Cuvier, 1817) (synonym)
  • Antennarius gibbus (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Antennarius hispidus (non Bloch & Schneider, 1801) (synonym)
  • Antennarius histrio (Linnaeus, 1758) (synonym)
  • Antennarius inops Poey, 1881 (synonym)
  • Antennarius laevigatus (Cuvier, 1817) (synonym)
  • Antennarius lioderma Bleeker, 1865 (synonym)
  • Antennarius nesogallicus (Valenciennes, 1837) (synonym)
  • Antennarius nitidus Bennett, 1827 (synonym)
  • Antennarius raninus (Tilesius, 1809) (synonym)
  • Cheironectes laevigatus Cuvier, 1817 (synonym)
  • Cheironectes pictus vittatus Richardson, 1844 (synonym)
  • Cheironectes raninus (Tilesius, 1809) (synonym)
  • Chironectes arcticus Düben & Koren, 1846 (synonym)
  • Chironectes barbatulatus Eydoux & Souleyet, 1850 (synonym)
  • Chironectes barbatulus Eydoux & Souleyet, 1850 (synonym)
  • Chironectes gibbus (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Chironectes histrio (Linnaeus, 1758) (synonym)
  • Chironectes laevigatus Cuvier, 1817 (synonym)
  • Chironectes nesogallicus Valenciennes, 1837 (synonym)
  • Chironectes pictus Valenciennes, 1837 (synonym)
  • Chironectes sontagii Müller, 1865 (synonym)
  • Chironectes tumidus (Linnaeus, 1766) (synonym)
  • Chironectes variegatus Rafinesque, 1814 (synonym)
  • Histiophryne bigibba (non Commerson, 1798) (synonym)
  • Historio gibbus (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Histrio jagua Nichols, 1920 (synonym)
  • Histrio pictus (Valenciennes, 1837) (synonym)
  • Histrio raninus (Tilesius, 1809) (synonym)
  • Lophius calico Mitchill, 1818 (synonym)
  • Lophius cocinsinensis Shaw, 1812 (synonym)
  • Lophius geographicus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825 (synonym)
  • Lophius gibba Mitchill, 1815 (synonym)
  • Lophius gibbus Mitchill, 1815 (synonym)
  • Lophius histrio Linnaeus, 1758 (synonym)
  • Lophius histrio marmoratus Bloch & Schneider, 1801 (synonym)
  • Lophius laevigatus (Cuvier, 1817) (synonym)
  • Lophius laevis Lacepède, 1804 (synonym)
  • Lophius pelagicus Banks, 1962 (synonym)
  • Lophius raninus Tilesius, 1809 (synonym)
  • Lophius tumida Linnaeus, 1766 (synonym)
  • Lophius tumidus Linnaeus, 1766 (synonym)
  • Peterophryne gibbo (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne gibba (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne historio (Linnaeus, 1758) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne histrio (Linnaeus, 1758) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne laevigata (Cuvier, 1817) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne laevigatus (Cuvier, 1817) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne picta (Valenciennes, 1837) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne ranina (Tilesius, 1809) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne tumida (Linnaeus, 1766) (synonym)
  • Pterophryne variegatus (Rafinesque, 1814) (synonym)
  • Pterophrynoides gibbus (Mitchill, 1815) (synonym)
  • Pterophrynoides histrio (Linnaeus, 1758) (synonym)


Boschung, H.T.J.., Williams J. D., Gotshall D. W., Caldwell D. K., & Caldwell M. C. (1983).  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales, and Dolphins. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Pietsch, T. W., & Grobecker D. B. (1987).  Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Pietsch, T. W., Grobecker D. B., & Stockly B. (1992).  The Sargassum Frogfish, Histrio histrio (Linnaeus) (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae), on the Pacific Plate. Cpeia. 1992, 247-248.
Robins, C. R., & Ray G. C. (1986).  A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rothschild, S. B. (2004).  Beachcomber's Guide to Gulf Coast Marine Life: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, 3rd Edition. Lanham, Maryland (U.S.A.): The Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc..