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Toadfishes: Batrachoidiformes

Oyster Toadfish (opsanus Tau): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Oyster toadfish grow as long as 15 inches (38 centimeters). They have three dorsal-fin spines, no scales, and a spine under the gill cover. The second dorsal fin has 23 to 27 soft rays, and the anal fin has 19 to 23 soft rays. The body is dark and has no spots. The pectoral fin has cross bars.

Geographic range: Oyster toadfish live along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Habitat: Oyster toadfish usually live over rock, sand, mud, or oyster shell bottoms in estuaries (EHS-chew-air-eez), areas where a river meets the sea.

Oyster toadfish make a grunting noise by rubbing muscles across their swim bladder. (©David Hall/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Oyster toadfish feed mainly on small crabs and other crustaceans (krus-TAY-shuns), which are water-dwelling animals that have jointed legs and a hard shell but no backbone.

Behavior and reproduction: Oyster toadfish make a grunting noise by rubbing muscles across their swim bladder. Males use a boat-whistle call to attract females to nesting sites. Males establish nesting sites from April through October.

Oyster toadfish and people: Oyster toadfish are helpful to people because they are used for medical studies.

Conservation status: Oyster toadfish are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Niesen, Thomas M. The Marine Biology Coloring Book. 2nd ed. New York: HarperResource, 2000.

Web sites:

"Toadfish." All Science Fair Projects. http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/science_fair_projects_encyclopedia/Toadfish (accessed on October 8, 2004).

"Toadfish Song May Help Heal Humans." CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/12/19/toadfish.song.ap (accessed on October 8, 2004).

"Toadfish in Space." Marine Biological Laboratory. http://www.mbl.edu/publications/LABNOTES/8.2/toadfish.html (accessed on October 8, 2004).

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