Blackspot Anglerfish, Tathicarpus butleri Click to enlarge image
A Blackspot Anglerfish caught on hook and line at a depth of 6m at Poona, southern Queensland on 30 June 2009. Image: Grant Turner
© Grant Turner

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to about 10 cm in length.


The Blackspot Anglerfish uses its pectoral fins as 'arm-like' appendages that can move individually to grasp objects or for moving over the bottom.

Thank you to Dr Ted Pietsch for identifying the fish and to J. Stocks for providing the image, movie and continuing updates on the fish which is now taking live prey.


The Blackspot Anglerfish has a stout body with variably developed skin filaments. Its colouration can range from pale grey to greenish or brown with various markings on the head and sides. It has tall dorsal, anal and caudal fins.

The pectoral fins are 'arm-like', the rays can be moved individually, allowing the fish to grasp objects and to splay the rays when moving over the bottom. The fish in the image was caught because it was holding on to the plastic mesh of a crab pot using its pectoral fins.

Blackspot Anglerfish, Tathicarpus butleri

An 8 cm long Blackspot Anglerfish caught at a depth of 2m, Susan River, near Hervey Bay, southern Queensland, September 2007. Photo taken at Reefworld.

Image: J. Stocks
© J. Stocks


It is a benthic species that is found in tropical inshore and coral reef waters of Papua New Guinea and Australia.

In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south on the east coast to southern Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.


  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Pietsch, T.W. & D.B. Grobecker. 1987. Frogfishes of the World. Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioural Ecology. Stanford University Press. Pp. 420.
  3. Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J., & G.G. Leyland. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of northern and north-western Australia. An illustrated Guide. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research. Pp. 375.