We tend to think of fish as light agile creatures using water like an airplane uses air, both beautiful and strong. This is not the case with these three fish. They have names that make you step back and an appearance that only on a good day would mother love.Toadfishes live on the bottom. They have more head than body, pelvic fins almost under the chin and a very big mouth. Their coloration is a mix bag of molted earth tones, which allows them to fit into the background. The Gulf toadfish lives only in the Gulf of Mexico and are very common on shell bottoms in estuaries, oyster reefs and jetties. They reach no more than a foot in length and weight about a pound.Toadfish are loners and spend most of their time in hiding, waiting to ambush their prey. These fish have large gills, which enable them to endure low oxygen levels that would kill most any other fish in the estuary. They are unable to chase down their prey so they use their big mouths to slurp it in. I don’t know if they are good to eat, and they probably are, but why would you want to eat something so ugly?The batfishes are aptly named, though they look like a combination of fish, bird and bat. They live on the bottom and are thought to eat snails, which are attracted to their mouth by an odor they release. Batfishes have heavy rough scales, a pointed large head with a small mouth, large pectoral fins that jut out at right angles to the body and a fairly slim pointed tail.There are around six species of batfish in the Gulf of Mexico. The largest is the polka-dot batfish, which ranges from North Carolina throughout the Gulf and into the Caribbean. This fish will sometimes reach a foot in length and weigh around a pound.Batfish aren’t good swimmers and don’t move around very much unless vigorously disturbed. They’ve a pair of walking fins on their stomach, which enables them to get around all they need. Batfish are very passive and easily picked up by hand and they’re never caught by rod and reel anglers.The last of our ugly threesome is the frogfish. The frogfishes are also called sargassum fish because they live in floating sargassum seaweed. This fish is easy to pick out from the crowd. Its pelvic fins have evolved into small feet looking structures, which they use to walk through the sargassum. They have a molted brown and gold coloration, which with their numerous lobbed appendages enables them to blend into their seaweed home. They get up to six inches long but are always much less that a pound in weight.Frogfish ranges all over the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and anywhere else sargassum seaweed is found. Needless to say, you’ll not take these fish on hook and line. One last thing – it has a mouth that when fully open will allow it to eat something as large as itself.
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