Common Fangtooth

Fangtooth

  • Scientific name: Anoplogaster cornuta
  • Also known as: Ogrefish
  • Size: Up to 20cm
  • UK minimum size: N/a
  • UK shore caught record: N/a
  • IUCN status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Distribution: Deep water species has a very wide distribution all around the world, including deep-sea areas around the British Isles.
  • Feeds on: Hunts small fish and small squid.
  • Description: Small fish with laterally compressed body. Head and mouth are very large and mouth is fully of very large (relative to body size), pointed sharp teeth. Light coloured grooved lateral line curves upwards towards the relatively small eyes. Single dorsal fin is present and tail is deeply forked. Colour usually a greyish to brown colour.

Despite their fearsome looks the fangtooth is a small fish, reaching a maximum size of just 20cm. They generally live at depths of several thousand metres, although younger, immature fangtooth may live in waters just a few hundred metres deep. This species has a very wide distribution all around the world, being found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, although it is absent from the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It is at the edge of its distribution in British and Irish waters but has been found in the very deep water area of the Rockall Trough to the west of Ireland, and may also be present in the Faroe-Shetland Channel to the north of Scotland.

Proportionate to body size the fangtooth is thought to have the largest teeth of any fish species, and are used to catch the fish and squid which make up the diet of this species. The relatively large mouth and teeth of the fangtooth allow it to attack and kill fish which are larger than itself, although the small size of the fangtooth itself means that they can become prey themselves for many larger species such as deep-sea sharks. For a deep sea species the fangtooth has relatively small eyes and is thought to use the sensory powers of its well-developed lateral line to locate prey. Unsurprisingly, the small size of the fangtooth and its somewhat terrifying appearance mean that it is of no commercial value at all. This lack of commercial pressure means it is classed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This species is called the common fangtooth as there is also a second species of fangtooth – the shorthorn fangtooth (Anoplogaster brachycera). This species is smaller, reaching a maximum length of 6-7cm, and only lives in tropical waters.

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