Fanfin Angler, Caulophryne jordani Click to enlarge image
A 55mm standard length female Fanfin Angler trawled during the NORFANZ expedition at a depth between the surface and 977m, south of Norfolk Island, May 2003 (NMNZ P.39763). Image: Kerryn Parkinson
© NORFANZ Founding Parties

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    Females reach a total length of 20 cm, but males only grow to 1.6 cm.


The strange-looking Fanfin Angler lives in deep marine waters. Mature males are usually found as parasites on females.


Fanfin Angler has a rounded body and fan-like dorsal and anal fins. A long illicium with branched filaments is present on the snout (the illicium is visible in the image as a white blur above the snout).

The species is black to dark brown all over with the exception of the tip of the illicium.

Larvae and free-swimming males have pelvic fins. These fins are lost in females and parasitic males.


It is known from bathypelagic and mesopelagic depths.

The fish in the image was trawled using a non-closing trawl somewhere between the surface and 977 m. Specimens have been collected in non-closing trawls that have sampled to 3000 m. C.jordani has also been collected using closing trawls between 1235 m and 1510 m.


The species occurs worldwide. In Australia the Fanfin Angler is known from off the central New South Wales coast and in Australian territorial waters south of Norfolk Island.

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

Other behaviours and adaptations

The species is sexually dimorphic, with females growing much larger than males. Males have well developed sense organs that are used to find a female. When a male finds a female, he bites her and doesn't let go. His skin fuses with the female and he becomes a parasite on her.


  • Nelson, J.S., 1994. Fishes of the World, third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pp: 600.
  • Norman, M. 2003. Beasts from the Deep. Australian Science. September:18-22. Pietsch, T. W. 1979. Ceratioid anglerfishes of the family Caulophrynidae with description of a new genus and species from the Banda Sea. Contributions in Science. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. No. 310: 1-25.
  • Pietsch, T. W. 1999. Caulophrynidae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-vi, 1398-2068.
  • Stewart, A.L. & T.W. Pietsch. 1998. The ceratioid anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 28 (1): 1-37.