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Toadfishes: Batrachoidiformes

Behavior And Reproduction

Toadfishes produce sound by contracting muscles on their swim bladder, which is an internal sac that fishes use to control their position in the water. Both males and females produce grunts, but only males make longer courtship calls, which sound like boat whistles or humming.

Male toadfishes prepare nests, usually under rocks or shells but sometimes under objects discarded by humans, such as cans and bottles. Males attract females by making their sounds, and then females lay large, sticky eggs and leave the area. Males guard and fan the eggs until after hatching. Fanning is using the fins to move water over the eggs to clean them and make sure they have plenty of oxygen. The young may remain in the nest after hatching. One species of toadfish has two types of males, larger nest-holding ones and smaller sneaker males that dart into nests attempting to fertilize (FUR-teh-lyze), or place sperm on, eggs of a nesting pair.


Two oyster toadfish accompanied the former senator John Glenn and several other astronauts on space shuttle mission STS-95 in October 1998. Glenn, one of the original Mercury astronauts in the 1960s, was the first American to orbit Earth.

A Helpful Fish

Oyster toadfish are used in studies of hearing, dizziness, and motion sickness, of insulin and diabetes, and of the effects of drugs.

Additional topics

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