Toadfishes have a broad, flat head and a wide mouth, which usually has thick barbels or flaps of skin around it. Barbels (BAR-buhls) are feelers used for the senses of taste, touch, and smell. The eyes are on the top of the head and face upward. Some toadfishes have light organs along their sides and belly. Other toadfishes have hollow, venomous spines in the first dorsal (DOOR-suhl) fin and gill cover. The dorsal fin is the one along the midline of the back.
The fin arrangement of toadfishes is unusual in that the pelvic fins, which correspond to the hind legs of four-footed animals, are forward of the pectoral (PECK-ter-uhl) fins, which correspond to the forelegs of four-footed animals. The pectoral fins of toadfishes are large. There are two separate dorsal fins. The first is small and has two or three spines, and the second is long, almost the length of the body. The anal (AY-nuhl) fin is a bit shorter than the second dorsal fin. The anal fin is the one on the midline of the belly.
Toadfishes are small to medium sized, about 2 to 20 inches (5 to 51 centimeters) long. They are usually rather drab, often brownish with darker saddles, bars, or spots. Some, however, are brightly colored.
Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesToadfishes: Batrachoidiformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Oyster Toadfish (opsanus Tau): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, TOADFISHES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS