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The members of this family fall with the anglers and sargassum fishes in the pediculate tribe. And the first dorsal spine bears a "bait" at its tip (known technically as an "illicium") as it does among the anglers. But the wristlike structure of the pectoral fins is not obvious in the deep sea anglers. And the members of this family, as well as those of several other families closely related to them,[94] differ from the anglers and from the sargassum fishes in lacking ventral fins. Their bodies are somewhat flattened sidewise (not dorso-ventrally as in the anglers); their dorsal and anal fins are very short (3 to 5 rays); and their central four caudal rays are branched. Their [page 543] mouths are oblique when closed, or even vertical. Associated with their deep-water habitat their bodies are noticeably soft and flabby. Their eyes are very small; some appear to be blind. The ceratioids, too, are unique among the vertebrates in the fact that the males of many of them (including those of the Gulf of Maine species) are dwarfs in size as compared with the females, and live parasitic, attached to the females by their heads.

They are oceanic as a group, living in the mid depths, mostly from about 200 fathoms down to perhaps 750 fathoms. And they are blackish in color as are so many other pelagic fishes of that same depth zone. One species has been taken in the Gulf of Maine as a stray.

[94] For a synopsis of the ceratioid fishes, a numerous race, see Regan and Trewavas, Rept. 2, Danish Dana Exped. (1928-1930), 1932, p. 48.