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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Oyster Toadfish Opsanus tau

Some people would consider the oyster toadfish an ugly animal, with its flat head, wide, toadlike mouth, and thick lips. It also has tassels around its chin, prominent eyes, and two dorsal fins, the first of which is spiny. Its shape and coloration provide camouflage in its home under rocks and debris. This hardy fish tolerates dirty and trash-strewn water and is often found under jetties. It has been reared in captivity for use in experiments. It also does well in aquariums and is a popular game fish.

Courtship calls

People living in houseboats along the east coast of the US are sometimes kept awake at night during April to October by loud grunting noises. The culprits are male oyster toadfish calling to attract females to lay their eggs in nests dug under rocks. The male makes these noises by vibrating the walls of his swim bladder using special muscles. The swim-bladder wall acts like the skin over a drum. The male guards the eggs until they hatch after about four weeks.

Oyster Toadfishzoom image
  • Order Batrachoidiformes
  • Length Up to 17 in (43 cm)
  • Weight Up to 4 lb (2.2 kg)
  • Depth Not recorded
  • Distribution Temperate and subtropical waters of northwestern Atlantic
Oyster Toadfish habitat mapzoom image