The Psychedelic Frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica) is one of the weirdest fish, ever found in the ocean and it is considered as the Holy Grail of Underwater Macro Photography. The Psychedelic frogfish is not only an insane looking fish, but it’s also one of the rarest and hard to find, known only from one particular location, and it’s seasonal too. This week, we came across some out of this world pictures from a group called Ocean Vizion of a psychedelic frogfish incubating eggs that are on the cusp of hatching!
As mentioned, Histiophryne psychedelica is only found in certain specific locations of Indonesia, in the vicinity of Ambon and the Molucca islands, which is a very restricted area. To add to the fish-spotting challenge, the psychedelic frogfish is very seasonal, and are not found all year long. Therefore you need to be very lucky to see one at all so it might be easier to win the lottery than to come across a Psychedelic frogfish incubating eggs.
This variety of Frogfish is special for only having a microscopic lure or ‘illicium’, so it probably uses different hunting strategy than other ‘Anglerfish’. The skin of the psychedelic frogfish is flabby and fleshy, like other frogfishes. As a member of the order Lophiiformes, it has no scales. The skin covers the dorsal and ventral fins of the fish, which aid in camouflaging the fish and the skin may be covered in protective mucus.
The psychedelic frogfish also has forward-facing eyes on its flattened face. Coupled with the perfect ascidian/sponge looking, mimicking pattern, it probably conceals itself tightly in coral crevices, filling it with its head and mouth and staying still waiting for a prey to try to ditch in. This behavior is probably the reason why this fish is only seen at spawning and incubation time. It’s likely that the rest of the time, the psychedelic frogfish is perpetually cryptic, living out of sight, inside the reef.
Psychedelic frogfish are “egg-brooders”, meaning they keep their eggs attached to their body to protect them from predators. One female psychedelic frogfish lais a cluster of about 220 eggs. In this example the female wrapped its caudal, dorsal, and anal fins around the cluster of eggs and has a unique method of aerating the eggs, by forming a pouch with its fins and fanning them.
The fantastic camera work by OceanVizion managed to get a shot of the eggs while it was the pouch is opened. Within we can perfectly see the eyes and formed face of a baby frogfish ready to hatch. This photo is truly amazing, like taking a picture of baby E.T. The psychedelic frogfish was first described in 2009 by Pietsch, Arnold, and Hall and while we may know about this species, underwater observation has revealed that this fish is even more bizarre than anyone could have imagined.