Species: Opsanus tau (Linnaeus, 1766)
Range: western Atlantic from Maine to the West Indies.
Habitat: found on mud, oyster shell, rock, along sand bottoms and garbage dumps in shallow water.
Food: preys on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and just about anything else it can get its mouth on.
Characters useful in identification: bulging eyes; fleshy flaps (whiskers) on cheeks and jaws; broad, flat heads.
Color: skin is yellowish to brown with dark brown oblique bars and brown reticulations.
Image courtesy: Fisherman's Guide: Fishes of the Southeastern United States.
Charles Manooch, III, author. Duane Raver, Jr. , illustrator.
Reproduction: toadfish are known for producing vocalizations, accomplished by rapid muscle contractions. The male produces a "foghorn" sound which may attract females to a nesting site. The spawning season lasts from April to October.
Maximum size: 38 cm TL (1.25 ft.)
Other interesting tidbits:
- The toadfish has no commercial value and is generally considered a nuisance due to its powerful and potentially dangerous jaws which make it tough to remove from fishing hooks; however, it is edible.
- It can survive out of water for extended periods.
- This fish is also plays an important role in medical research.
- NASA and the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole just completed experiments in which toadfish were sent to space. To read about this research, go here.
Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong, and J.A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press, 324 pp.
For any comments or suggestions, contact the Fisheries
Date last modified: 07/14/99