World’s weirdest fish

May 13, 2009 • 12:28 pm

Meet Histiophryne psychedelica, discovered a year ago in Indonesia and just described by Pietsch et al. in the February edition of Copeia.  I’ve never seen a weirder fish, and what’s even more amazing is that it moves by hopping along the ocean floor using jets of water expelled from the gill slits.  You can read more about it, and see its bizarre “hopping” behavior, at the National Geographic website here.

If you’re a biologist, or somebody who just likes biology, tell me that you don’t get a frisson of excitement from seeing this thing.  Nature always coughs up creatures weirder than we can imagine.

H. psychedelica, D. J. Hall

P. psychedelica 2

Photographs by David J. Hall, from Pietsch et al. paper

A Bizarre New Species of Frogfish of the Genus Histiophryne (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia full access

Theodore W. Pietsch, Rachel J. Arnold, David J. Hall
pg(s) 37–45


A new species of frogfish of the teleost order Lophiiformes, family Antennariidae, is described from three specimens collected in shallow waters off Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. A member of the antennariid genus Histiophryne, the new taxon differs substantially from its congeners in having a broad flat face, surrounded by thick, fleshy, laterally expanded cheeks and chin, with eyes directed forward; skin of the body thick and loose, forming conspicuous fleshy folds that envelop the unpaired fins; a remarkable pigment pattern of white swirling stripes radiating from the eyes and continuing back to the body and tail; genetic divergence in the nuclear recombination activation gene-2 (RAG2), cytochrome oxidase-I (COI), and 16S rRNA genes; and a set of behavioral traits not previously known in fishes. The new species is described and compared with its congeners. Notes on habitat, locomotion, pigment pattern and camouflage, predation and defense, and reproduction and parental care are also provided.

6 thoughts on “World’s weirdest fish

  1. Histiophryne psychedelica seems very strange and its discovery is very cool.

    Hmmmm, beige and peach stripes, flat face with forward looking blue eyes; uses water jets to move but not very graceful doing it; fins used as feet; a gelatinous, fist-size body covered with thick folds of skin…

    I think it must be a new species of creationist!

  2. This animal could be seen as in a transitional state of evolution. Not very efficient, but with the ability to survive and reproduce, these wonderful fish are on their way to becoming something even more amazing. Wonder what they taste like…

  3. The full-face view reminds me of a moray, so I guess the stripes accentuate this resemblance by drawing attention to the eyes and obscuring the flatter shape of the face. A quick Google image search didn’t find me a moray species with similar pattern, but if I’m right there’ll be one out there in sympatry. Other than that, this is a hell weird fish, even by frogfish standards.

  4. Have you ever seen the movie finding nemo? Well the fish I’m looking at looks like the fish that is trying to get the fish. I’v been fishing a lot of times and seen some of the weirdest fish but this is the weirest fish so far.

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