Discussion in 'Fish Discussion' started by Nordic, Dec 2, 2012.

How To Train Your Frogfish (Anglerfish) To Eat Frozen Food

By Nordic, Dec 2, 2012 | |
  1. Nordic

    Nordic Member

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    Frogfish are really unique and interesting specimens for the species-specific aquarium. They have a variety of morphological features that never ceases to fascinate us. But they have a downside, much like all ambush predators--they rarely take frozen food without some motivation and work on the side of the aquarist.


    First off, start him off on a steady supply of live food. You're going to want to get him fattened up, as the wholesaler will rarely feed frogfish (some don't feed any fish at all!).

    I recommend feeding small live damsels or chromis as these can usually be attained with relative ease and are usually affordable. In addition, as they are a marine fish they are nutritionally sound for your frogfishes' dietary needs. Another great food to fatten them up on is Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni). These guys can be had for fairly cheap and are entertaining to watch the Frogfish stalk them. If your frogfish is small, such as those we we see in the trade that are 1/2" or smaller I recommend molly fry or small mollies. Mollies make excellent food because they are livebearers (easy to breed), they readily adapt to saltwater, and they are very affordable.

    Juvenile frogfish will also readily feed on large amphipods at this size, so supplementing your tank with some macroalgae is a good way to introduce this natural fauna. Although I would not rely on amphipods alone to sustain a frogfish (they are quite voracious, especially when small). Live brine shrimp are also another alternative for the very smallest of anglers--just be sure to enrich them prior to feeding. If you cannot obtain small mollies or baby mollies, the next best bet is mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) which are readily available almost everywhere in the U.S. from Local Fish Stores, Pond Retailers, Mosquito Vector control, or even your local Department of Fish & Game. Gambusia will not survive long in saltwater but they are easy to obtain, fast to breed (you can throw about 20 in a 4 gallon tub with some plants and their population will quickly quadruple), and above all--cheap. Finally, if you cannot find Gambusia, you can always resort to guppies and guppy fry. Guppies tend to be a little bit more tolerant of the saltwater as well and you can acclimate them to saltwater conditions. Another live food one can readily find is Ghost Shrimp (most all Pet Smarts carry them if your local fish store doesn't) but they can be sensitive and are not terribly good nutritionally.

    • Prior to feeding: It is important to "gut" load all live foods by feeding them a nutritionally dense food prior to feeding them to your frogfish. This can be as easy as soaking some flakes or pellets in your favorite vitamin soak and feeding this to the prey items 10 or 15 minutes prior to feeding. New additions will rarely feed immediately, even if it is live food. Give your new Frogfish a day or two before trying to feed him to allow him to become comfortable with captive conditions and explore the tank. Once he is settled and happy, I recommend feeding Juvenile frogfish every day at least once per day. Adult frogfish can be fed every other day or every 2 days, depending on the size of the meal. You should shoot for a meal that is enough to make the stomach look "full" but not overly distended. Do not be afraid to stop feeding even if he shows interest, frogfish will engorge themselves if given opportunity once they are settled. Frogfish that have been overfed will frequently regurgitate their food (which can be hard on them).​

    • Net Feeding: When feeding frogfish, it is important to use a net for live foods. This also allows the frogfish to associate the net (and you) with food, therefore making the step from live to frozen much easier. It also ensures the live food ends up being food, and not a tankmate! Bring the net close to the frogfish, and gently encourage the live food to swim towards them. Initially the frogfish will be very wary, maybe even darting away. If he looks stressed or is pacing away from the net, stop immediately and try again tomorrow. A stressed frogfish will never eat no matter how hard you try to coerce them.​
    Once your frogfish is comfortable in his environment, is feeding well on live foods, appears to have gained some weight, and maybe now associates you and the net with food you can try introducing frozen foods. I have found H20 Life Silversides to be the best for Medium/Large frogfish and PE Mysis for small frogfishes. You can also sometimes find baby Octopus or Smelt in Asian and Hispanic food markets. Frozen market shrimp (from your grocery store) is also good if they are not too big. These can be significantly cheaper than buying "aquarium" grade food and are usually better quality. Just rinse them thoroughly before using. Try to find the ones with the head still on! When trying to adapt your frogfish to frozen food, ensuring he or she is thoroughly hungry is paramount to success. So plan ahead, skip a day that you would normally feed (or two) and try placing the frozen food items in the net. Usually a frogfish that has adapted well will already know the net means food, and usually will take frozen food immediately in the excitement. Sometimes they spit it out, but don't worry! If they do, you are still doing good just need to present the frozen food in a more lively manner. If they reject the frozen food entirely, try starving them for a day or two longer. If that doesn't work, repeat your live feeding regime and try again in about 10 days.​

    • Presenting Frozen bait in a more lively manner: Frogfish are visual hunters, so they will usually know when you're trying to slide a subpar frozen morsel by instead of those juicy damsels you've been giving them the days before. It is very important that the dead food looks good--if your silversides are yellowed or rotten smelling they will not accept them no matter how hard you try. They may swallow them, but in my experience everytime they swallow these they spit them right back out. Same goes for smaller frogfish, any food items that don't appear natural will be rejected. A good frozen alternative to PE mysis for the little frogfish is silverside heads. Try to trim the head in a manner that the end looks like a triangle (makes it appear like a small fish).​

    • Stick Method: Another method to present in a more lively manner and can work splendidly if done correctly, is the stick method. The best supplies to use to construct your feeding stick out of are rigid airline tubes and clear acrylic rods. The rods being clear are crucial, most frogfish will spot anything else immediately and will not take the bait. The company Azoo used to make a feeding spear that was very small, clear, and flexible but I cannot find these anymore (if you spot them, buy several--these things are great for the baby frogfish). If you are using rigid airline tubing or acrylic to feed the next best thing to add to the feeding stick is a length of monofilament fishing line. I would add a length not greater than 6", much more than that is hard to control. I recommend 4-6# test for the finicky and the small ones and up to 20# test for the big guys. The bigger the rating on the line the bigger it is and the stiffer it is. You can affix this fishing line by simply bending the airline tube's tip to form a rough hook and tying the line on this hook; or with acrylic, scraping a straight gouge on one end a few millimeters down from the tip with a file or razor blade to affix the fishing line to. Once the line is secure and you tied several knots to keep it from getting loose (don't want this getting swallowed), you can thread the line onto your food of choice. The best place to thread the food is in the middle of the back on silversides/smelt, close to the head on shrimp/krill, and through a tentacle for baby octopus. Smaller pound test will be harder to thread into the bait and you may not be able to simply press it into the body of the bait, so the use of a sewing needle may be utilized. If you don't have a needle handy or are lazy, I used to thread the line through the gill plate of the silverside (it may slide off easily though, so keep this in mind). Do not tie a knot or any kinds of bends in the line after threading the bait on it. The idea is to get it so the frogfish engulfs the bait and then with a slight tug, the bait comes free of the line and you're Scott-free.​

    • Tricks to entice with Stick Method: When using a feeding stick, technique to entice the angler is important. You must present the dead food item in a manner like a live bait would be presented. This is not at all unlike fishing in with a lure (but here you can see your fish). I have had the most success with a rapid rolling motion (roll the rod with your fingers) followed by a quick upwards twitch, and let it sink an inch or two away from their face. Hitting them in the face or bumping them will immediately make them suspiscious and they will usually not feed. Another way to get a wary angler to feed off stick is to make the bait swim by them. Just simply drag the bait bath and forth an inch or less from their face like a fish rapidly swimming by. This will usually entice the angler to forgo his visual instincts and simply lunge at a fast moving object. If the angler does not show interest after several tries, try a different food or try again in a few hours. Don't be afraid to let him starve another day--if you properly fattened him up prior to switching over he can sustain for a long time. I have routinely done this process on numerous anglers and all of them have converted. Some took longer than others but it should not take much longer than 4-6 weeks, especially if you start out with a healthy individual. I also find large frogfishes more forgiving because their foodstuffs are larger, therefore making the transition from live to frozen much easier due to larger variety of foods in their size range.​

    So in closing, getting your Frogfish to eat can be challenging but it is not a daunting task. It is easier than most fish and they transition well provided you are patient and diligent in your feeding practices. Good luck on your foray into Frogfishes!
     
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  2. wysiwyg

    wysiwyg marine predator man R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    very nice write up
     
  3. Mstansbery

    Mstansbery Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Nice writeup!! -"Ghost" or "glass" Shrimp (Paleomonetes sp.) are also a great live food for anglers. They can be bred easily and cost little to nothing!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  4. Nordic

    Nordic Member

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    Thanks everyone. I mentioned a little bit on Ghost Shrimp under juvenile foods but I haven't had a good success rate with them, they always cannibalized eachother when I tried to rear them. They can be had at nearly any petsmart though so they are easy to find.
     
  5. jdl513

    jdl513 Valuable Member

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    What is the minimum size tank one of those could be kept in comfortably?
     
  6. Nordic

    Nordic Member

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    Depends on the species, all Anglers/Frogfishes are live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. They move with their fins and "walk," rarely swimming or darting. Therefore they don't need a lot of space. Additionally, if your Frogfish/Angler is in too big of a space, it may be difficult to locate him/her. Since they tend to also be species-only (the only fish in the tank), not many want to devote a huge tank to a single fish.

    The most common anglers/frogfishes you will encounter in the trade are as follows:

    • Antennarius Maculatus, a max size of 6". I have only seen a handful reach adult size, most stay smaller. A 30 gallon would suffice for these guys. A 20g long may also work. These are the "warty" Anglers you see on Live Aquaria (usually fairly pricey, too).

    • Antennarius pictus is the other species that is suitable for smaller tanks, with the same max size of 6". These go by the common name of "Painted Anglerfish." They come in a wide assortment of wild colors and shapes. Again I have never really seen these larger than this in aquaria, unless it was collected at full adult size. I would say 30 gallon or 20 gallon long minimum.

    • Antennarius Striatus is a larger specimen, they reach up to 9" and I have seen some in the range of 8". Due to their size I would recommend nothing smaller than a 55 gallon. When juvenile you can grow them out in smaller tanks.

    • Antennarius Commersonii is a huge beast of an anglerfish. They don't call them "Giant Anglerfish" for nothing! They reach up to 15" and I have seen many get close to this. I would not recommend these unless you plan on having a large tank. I would say they need a minimum of a wide 80 gallon or ideally a 120 gallon tank.

    • Histro histro is another moderate sized frogfish. Common name for these is "Sargassum Anglerfish," as they hail from the Sargassum Sea. Histro histro has a very interesting shape to blend in with the floating Sargassum seaweed they make their home.They reach about 9-10" in the wild so I would recommend them in lieu with the Striatus at 55g minimum ideally something larger.

    If you are unsure of your Anglerfishes' identity, you should consult this website: Frogfish / Anglerfish (Antennariidae): Characteristics - Frogfish Terms - Esca and illicium - Tips for the identification of frogfishes. With illustrations and photos
    It has a wealth of information Frogfish related and has a lot of interesting pictures. It also has some incredible photos of my personal favorite Frogfish, Histiophryne psychedelica.
    If you have any more questions let me know! Glad to help.
     
  7. BoB_25

    BoB_25 Member

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    .....
     
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