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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Wolf-fish Anarhichas lupus

This large and ferocious-looking fish is normally found on rocky reefs in deep water. However, north of the British Isles, divers regularly see wolf-fish in shallow water. They are not aggressive to divers unless provoked. The wolf-fish has a long body and a huge head with strong caninelike teeth at the front and molarlike teeth at the sides. These are used to break open hard-shelled invertebrates such as mussels, crabs, and sea urchins. Worn teeth are replaced each year. The wolf-fish's skin is tough, leathery, and wrinkled and is usually grayish with darker vertical bands extending down the sides.

Spawning takes place during the winter. The female wolf-fish lays thousands of yellowish eggs in round clumps among rocks and seaweeds and the male guards them until they hatch. In spite of their unattractive appearance, wolf-fish are good to eat and are caught by anglers. They are also sometimes caught in trawl nets.

Wolf-fishzoom image
  • Order Perciformes
  • Length Up to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Weight Up to 53 lb (24 kg)
  • Depth 3–1,650 ft (1–500 m)
  • Distribution North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean
Wolf-fish habitat mapzoom image