A Fish Called Toad

North-East Coast
January 2013
Toadfish (Batrachoididae) are really scary. The first you see of them in murky waters are their two red eyes gleaming back at you. But then, sometimes, you may not even see the two eyes. Maybe only one. Like a tiny red ruby.

Toadfishes are usually scaleless, with eyes set high on large heads. Their mouths are also large, and often decorated with barbels and skin flaps. They are generally drab in colour, and range in length from 7.5 cm to 57 cm. The ones found at our reefs are generally smaller, with a size of 5-15 cm for the ones spotted here in the sightings today...
Spot the Toadfish...

Because they exist in murky water and are often hidden under stones and rocks, there is a tendency to mistake them for other dangerous fish like Scorpionfish and Stonefish. A good guide to tell them apart can be found on Wild Singapore.

Toadfish are not venomous. However the spines on its back and its bite can be painful if inflicted.
A clearer look at the nasty spines on its back...

Males make nests, and then attract females by "singing", that is, by releasing air by contracting muscles on their swim bladder. The sound has been called a 'hum' or 'whistle', and can be loud enough to be clearly audible from the surface. This behaviour, and its look is probably how it got its name.

The Toadfish is an ambush predator. They tend to be omnivorous, eating sea worms, crustaceans, mollusks and other fish. It waits motionless for its prey to wander by. Prey that comes near enough is sucked into its expandable wide jaws and usually swallowed whole.

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