Physical Description

  • Wide, flattened body that tapers at the back to small, skinny tail.
  • Brown mottled coloring on entire body; tail is dark brown with row of small white spots down the edge (hence their name).
  • Large, wide, flattened head with large mouth full of long, sharp teeth.
  • The first dorsal (back) spine has been modified to be an angler, with a lure at the end to attract prey. They have two other standalone dorsal spines on their back as well.
  • Their pectoral (side) fins are long and bony, and their skin is smooth and scaleless.


  • Southern California to Peru.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • Cocos Island, Costa Rica; Malpelo Island, Colombia; Galapagos Islands.


  • Live on sandy and mud bottoms.
  • Live at depths of 50-1250 feet.


  • Oviparous, meaning that the female lays eggs.
  • Eggs are contained in floating gelatinous rafts.
  • Larvae are part of the plankton before becoming bottom-dwelling adults.


  • Small fishes and crustaceans.


  • Goosefish larvae have been observed to be eaten by copepods, ctenophores, hydroids, and spiny lobster larvae.
  • Adult goosefish are prey to larger fishes.

Interesting Facts

  • These fish are also called the Pacific anglerfish or the spotted-tail angler.
  • There is only one other kind of lophiid anglerfish in the eastern Pacific, and they are easily distinguishable by the shape of their lures and the lack of white spots on the other species’ tail..
  • They are “lie in wait” ambush predators, lying on the bottom waiting for food to come to them..

Sources:; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Discover Life

Photo: Chris Grossman