angler, common name for a member of the family Ceratiidae, European and American bottom-dwelling predacious fishes. The angler lies on the bottom and lures its prey with a long, wormlike appendage that extends forward and dangles over its mouth. When the lure is touched, the huge mouth opens automatically. The deep-sea anglers are fantastic fishes, many with luminescent lures, that live at depths of 200 to 600 fathoms. The various species grow from 6 to 40 in. (15–500 cm) long. The parasitic males attach themselves to the females and do not develop eyes and digestive organs. The sargassum fishes, less than 6 in. (15 cm) long, have armlike pectoral fins and mottled coloration adapted to merge with the seaweed in which they live; they are found in warm Atlantic waters, as are the 8- to 12-in. (20–30 cm) batfishes, named for their jointed pectoral fins. The goosefish, the largest angler, reaches 4 ft (120 cm) and 50 lb (23 kg) and is capable of swallowing fish as big as itself. Angler fish are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Lophiiformes, family Ceratiidae.
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