Anglerfish (Himantolophidae)

Anglerfish – Search the Murk

Illustration of a Himantolophidae Anglerfish by Ravenari


Search the murk. Do not trust the brightest lure. Wariness. Know your surroundings. Use other senses. Intuition. Unconscious workings. Otherworlds. The underworlds. You have power to attract what you need at this time. Symbiosis. Be grateful to what keeps you alive. The creatures within you, sustain and support you. The life you cradle closest have your best interests at heart. Look at imbalance in close relationships. Your problems look scarier than they are. Twilight wisdom. Shadow work.


Himantolophidae is a family of deep-sea anglerfish. They are also known as footballfish or football-fish. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They are usually found in the deep-sea, often in the mesopelagic region, or twilight zone. Their sizes can vary, but the largest can be over 60 centimetres. Despite looking naturally fearsome and even horrifying to many humans, they pose no threat, are rarely sighted by humans, and cannot be eaten.

They are extremely sexually dimorphic, with males being tiny compared to the females. Females have huge mouths with rows of sharp teeth, as well as the lures and multiple sensory organs, as well as some bony plates. Males are parasitic in nature, having no lure or true teeth. It is not known if they are even capable of feeding at maturity. They attach themselves to females and their flesh melts into the female’s, at which point they become inseparable, as the male now uses the female’s blood in his system. Males are utilised in this way for their sperm. 

They are notably round, with a bioluminescent lure (esca) that is used to attract prey. The bioluminescence in the lure and throughout their bodies is created by a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. They are mostly sedentary carnivores, waiting for their prey in deep open water. Their main diet consists of pelagic fish, cephalopods, and shrimp, who are all generally attracted to the light-emitting lure. One of their natural predators are sperm whales and other anglerfish.