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Wartskin Angler

Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 at 12:33 pm by

The Wartskin Angler, Antennarius maculatus, is a strange looking fish with even stranger habits. To the untrained eye, this fish more closely resembles a rock or sponge than a fish. Colored specimens perfectly match the toxic sponges in their habitat, while green and brown specimens blend in to the substrate. Instead of swimming, this fish uses foot-like pelvic and pectoral fins to “walk” around slowly on the substrate. When alarmed, an angler can make a (relatively) speedy getaway by pumping large amounts of water into its siphon-like gills, propelling it through the water while using its tail for a rudder.

The Wartskin Angler is most closely related to the Painted Angler, Antennarius pictus. Painted Anglers may also have bumps on the skin, but the bumps are not as large as those found on a Wartskin Angler. The second dorsal spine of the Wartskin Angler is thicker and fleshier than that of the Painted Angler.

Perhaps the most recognizable characteristic of the Wartskin Angler is its “lure” and the amazing way it uses the lure to “fish” for its prey. The lure of the Wartskin Angler is actually its first dorsal spine; the fleshy tip resembles a tiny bait fish. When a suitable prey item is spotted, the Wartskin Angler holds perfectly still while moving the lure in a circle. To the intended prey, it would look like a tiny, irresistible, wounded fish swimming circles above a sponge or rock. When the prey ventures close enough to the Wartskin Angler to investigate what it thinks is the potential meal of the angler’s lure, the angler strikes with lightning speed, opening its huge mouth and creating a vacuum to suck in its prey.

In captivity Wartskin Anglers require live food items such as saltwater feeder shrimp or small saltwater fish. With persistence and patience, some anglers may be trained to eat frozen foods from the end of a feeding stick. Small anglers that are still growing need to be fed several times a week, but healthy adult anglers should be fed no more than twice a week. Avoid feedingĀ  a diet consisting mainly of krill, as the lack of certain necessary minerals in krill has been reported to cause lock-jaw in predators such as anglers and puffers.

Because of their sedentary lifestyle, anglers can be housed in small aquariums of at least 20 gallons. Stinging corals and anemones are not suitable tankmates. It is easiest to keep a single angler with no other tankmates. Anglers can eat fish up to two times their body length, but may be accidentally picked on by angelfish and other fish that graze on live rock. In large aquariums anglers may be kept with peaceful fish that are at least twice their size, such as boxfish, rabbitfish, sweetlips, and squirrelfish. Most large, aggressive fish like triggers and puffers should be avoided, as they can easily harm an angler. Similar ambush predators like other anglers, scorpionfish, lionfish, and leaf fish of the same size may be kept with an angler. Wartskin Anlgers are sometimes aggressive toward other anglers, and if they are not the same size, an angler may eat a slightly smaller angler. To reduce aggression in multiple angler aquariums, it may be necessary to feed them up to four times a week.

Photo by Greg Rothschild

Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons Gallons
Care Level:Moderate
Temperament:Semi-aggressive
Coral Safe:With Caution
Invertebrate Safe:No
Conspecific Safe:With Caution
Water Parameters:72-78Ā° F, dKH 8-12,
pH 8.1-8.4,
sg 1.020-1.026
Max Size:3.9"
Color:Red, white, yellow, black, variable
Diet:Live food, Carnivore
Origin:Indo-Pacific, Australia
Family:Antennariidae
Felicia has been keeping aquariums since the early 90s and has a keen interest in taxonomy, aquaculture, and seahorses. she is the former Liveaquaria Diver's Den photographer and now works for Philadelphia area's largest aquarium specialty store The Hidden Reef.

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3 Responses to “Wartskin Angler”

  1. Aliie Golberg says:

    Gorgous fish!!!

  2. Dale Tyler says:

    Love those Angler’s!

  3. RedCyanNat says:

    I got one a few days ago, a fully red one, he’s great!

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