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What is a Goosefish?

By Steve R.
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Goosefish (Lophius americanus) are bottom-dwelling fish that are located in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Also known as anglerfish, fishing frog, and monkfish, goosefish are known for their voracious appetite and will eat anything that comes their way. The fish is capable of growing more than four feet (about 1.2 meters) and tipping the scales at 50 pounds (about 23 kilograms). Possessing a large mouth and pectoral fins that look like small arms, goosefish are sometimes known as “poor man’s lobsters” and caught for their meat.

Light brown in color, a monkfish has a narrow body with a flattened head. Its jaws contain several long, sharp teeth that point inward. Across its body, the monkfish features many slender spines. A spine on top of its head is mobile and is suspended in front of the creature’s mouth, drawing prey into the goosefish’s mouth. Males are typically much smaller than females. A full-grown male typically reaches 35 inches (about 89 centimeters) long, while adult females may reach 55 inches (about 140 centimeters) long.

The fish are located along the east coast of North America, from the Grand Banks, Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Monkfish are capable of living in a variety of temperatures and can be found as deep as 2,950 feet (about 899 meters). Pectoral fins allow the creatures to move along sediment. Adults generally live in sand and mud at the bottom of the ocean, where they can hide and sneak up on their prey.

Opportunistic feeders, adult goosefish will eat mackarel, herring, crustaceans, mollusks, and even other goosefish. Adults have been known to feed on prey larger than themselves — such as seabirds — and also try to eat non-living objects, s lobster traps. Diet of the larvae includes zooplankton, and juvenile fish feed on tiny fish, shrimp, and squid. Large goosefish have hardly any predators. Sharks and swordfish may prey on smaller monkfish.

The monkfish spawns between February and October. A female may release as many as one million eggs which float along the surface and follow current patterns. Larvae may hatch within three weeks.

While the only edible parts of the adult fish are the tail and liver, the creature is often caught and served as cuisine. The tail meat of the monkfish is comparable to lobster tail meat in taste and texture. The fish is rich in niacin, B vitamins, and potassium and serves as a good source for protein. Monkish can be prepared and eaten different ways including steamed, broiled, fried, and baked.

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