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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Spotted Lanternfish Myctophum punctatum

The spotted lanternfish is one of over 250 species of lanternfish found in the world’s oceans. Lanternfish are rather unprepossessing, small spindle-shaped fish with large eyes. However, in spite of their drab appearance they can put on an unrivaled display of light from an array of photophores along their sides and belly. In some species, males and females have different patterns of photophores, and this helps them to find each other in the dark depths. Photophore patterns also differ between species.

Large shoals of spotted lanternfish are common in the north Atlantic. Along with other lanternfish, it is an important food source for larger fish, sea birds, and marine mammals. During the day it stays in deep water, at 800–2,500 ft (250–750 m), but at night it swims up to within about 330 ft (100 m) or even right to the surface, where it feeds on planktonic crustaceans and fish fry.

Spotted Lanternfish habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Myctophiformes
  • Length Up to 4 in (11 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 0–3,300 ft (0–1,000 m)
  • Distribution Deep waters of north Atlantic and Mediterranean