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Lanternfishes: Myctophiformes

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Skinnycheek Lanternfish (benthosema Pterotum): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, LANTERNFISHES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS


Lanternfishes live all over the world except the Arctic Ocean.

As adults most lanternfishes live in the middle depths of the open ocean, usually between 660 and 3,330 feet (200 and 1,000 meters). Some may enter the upper part of the deep-water region. Several lanternfishes are thought to live near, but not in contact with, the bottom at some point in life. Larval or young lanternfishes live near the surface, mainly between about 160 and 800 feet (50 to 250 meters).

Scientists do not know much about the feeding habits of lanternfishes. Some eat crustacean (krus-TAY-shun) plankton. Crustaceans are water-dwelling animals that have jointed legs and a hard shell but no backbone. Plankton are microscopic plants and, in this case, animals drifting in water.

Lanternfishes are processed to form fish meal, which is used as poultry feed and as crop fertilizer. Like sardines and anchovies, lanternfishes can be bought packed in oil. Lanternfishes are very important to the ocean environment. Damage to or loss of lanternfish populations would be harmful to many other animals in the food web of the open ocean.

Lanternfishes are not threatened or endangered.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded Vertebrates