Meet the stargazer fish! This fascinating creature can be found in marine waters worldwide along the coasts of Europe and Africa and off the coast of Australia.
Continue reading to discover ten fascinating facts about this ugly-looking animal!
Stargazer fish description
They are not a single species but a family of 51 fish species in eight genera that belong to the family Uranoscopidae and order Trachiniformes.
The most common examples are Northern stargazer (Astroscopus guttatus) Southern stargazer (Astroscopus y-graecum).
All stargazers are marine creatures, and one fish species is already extinct. They live all around the world in deep and shallow salt waters.
Stargazers live in deep ocean waters and prefer sandy ocean floors near the shoreline. They can be found throughout Europe and Africa as well as off the coast of Australia.
Stargazer fish get their name from a bioluminescent organ on top of their head that looks like a star.
The street language for stargazers is “peacock eyes.” Their luminescence can be used for three purposes: attracting prey at night, camouflaging themselves by blending with the sand grains during the daytime, and warning predators about their poisonous spines.
Stargazers are known as venomous fish but are a delicacy in some cultures.
How they look like
Stargazer fish are not brightly colored like other types of fish. They actually have a blackish-brown body and they’ve turned pale to avoid predators.
This fish has a vast upward-facing mouth in a large head and top-mounted eyes (hence the name, stargazer). most of all they are consider as stout fish.
They have two huge venomous spines positioned behind their opercles and above the pectoral fins. The body is scaleless and designed to burrow itself on the sand bed.
However, in northern stargazers own a dark body with white spots that gradually spread from head to tail of the fish.
If we go into more detailed appearance, their first dorsal fin is comprised of 1 ray and 4 spines, the second dorsal fin with 12 rays, and the anal fin has zero spines.
The life cycle of stargazers
Like most fish species, females fish lay small, transparent eggs on the bottom of the sea. Eggs hatch after floating to the surface.
The transparent larvae are very small. These pelagic larvae grow rapidly, feeding on a yolk sac until they grow.
When they grow 12 to 15 millimeters long, larvae swim from surface to sea bottom and grow into adults in there. Their electric organs begin to develop in this period
When larvae grow into adults their color becomes darken and a bright yellow spot starts to appear in the chin.
Where do stargazer fish live?
Stargazer fish live in marine waters around the world in tropical and temperate regions, in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Southern stargazer occurs western Atlantic ocean from North Carolina and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
They live on a wide range of shallow sea beds, including seagrass meadows, mangroves, sand flats, rocky reefs & even shipwrecks!
Stargazers mostly live under sandy, rubble, silty, or gravel substrates at depths of up to 70 meters.
They hide behind the substrate to catch their prey, which includes small fish and invertebrates.
Stargazers are nocturnal, which means that they sleep on the ocean floor during the day and come out at night to feed.
What do stargazer fish eat?
Stargazers are ambush predators who use their camouflage to sneak up on a tasty meal!
They sit motionless with their mouths open wide in order to catch unsuspecting smaller fish that swim by.
Stargazers also like to nudge their food into their mouths, making it easy for them to swallow.
Some of the most common foods that stargazers eat include shrimp, crabs, and other small fish!
Similarly, southern stargazer feeds on small fish.
How long do Stargazer fish live?
The life span of stargazers varies depending on the species. For example, Atlantic stargazer lives for about 5 to 6 years.
However, the average life span of stargazer fish is about 25 years.
How big does a stargazer fish get?
A stargazer fish can grow from 18cm up to 90cm. The largest stargazer fish species is Kathetostoma giganteum that grows about 90cm long.
The northern stargazer grows for about 20 to 45cm, up to 55cm maximum.
How much does a stargazer fish weigh?
The Atlantic Ocean Stargazers are the heaviest ones weighing up to 25lbs (11kg).
Other species can weigh from 0.12 lbs (54 grams) up to 48 ozs (1372g), depending on their gender and age.
Are Stargazer and Monkfish the same?
Stargazers and Monkfish are not the same. Although some people refer to stargazers as Monkfish in some areas, they are, in fact, different fish species.
Stargazers usually live in the deep sea, while Monkfish live in shallow waters near shores.
While there are several differences in both fish species, we have listed some of them below.
Stargazers belong to the family Uranoscopidae, while Monkfish belong to the family Lophiidae.
Stargazers eat other fish that come into their habitat, whereas Monkfish mostly eat invertebrates such as crustaceans, mollusks, and worms.
The poison from a stargazer is much more potent than a monkfish, but humans can actually eat both fish without getting poisoned.
A Star Gazer’s spine curves upwards to allow for downward motions, whereas a Monkfish’s spine curves downwards to help it reach the bottom of the ocean floor.
Is a stargazer fish poisonous?
Stargazer fish is poisonous. Behind their eyelids and on their pectoral fins, they bear two large poisonous spines.
Stargazers sting with these spines when they are threatened or attacked, and the sting is known to be most toxic to humans.
However, the venom is not harmful when consumed.
Can a stargazer fish shock you?
In addition to poisonous spines, some stargazers also can cause electric shocks.
Among six genera, genera Astroscopus and Uranoscopus are able to shock you with their special electrical organ located in the modified eye muscles.
So, if you have to handle a stargazer for any reason, you should be careful not to touch that area. Otherwise, you may have to face the electric shock.
Did You Know? This fish can generate and release up to 50 volts of electricity, which is used to stun their prey. This is powerful enough to injure a human.
Can we eat Stargazer fish?
Absolutely! Stargazer fish is a delicacy in various parts of the world. Although they are venomous and can electrify you, it is safe to eat when you remove those organs.
Moreover, the venom is known to be non-venomous when eaten.
It is also very high in protein, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to add some more seafood into their diet!
Some people think that stargazers taste like lobster. Others say they taste more like crab or shrimp.
It’s often referred to as “Poor man’s lobster” because of its slightly chewy texture and sweet, mild flavor.
You can either steam them to make a delicious meal or pan-fry and serve with lemon. They are also good in stews, salads, and casseroles.
What does stargazer fish taste like?
Stargazers have pearly white flesh with a firm, chewy texture and a sweet, mild flavor that closely resembles Rock lobster.
Therefore, people often refer to these fish as “Poor man’s lobster” in common. Some others report that the taste of stargazer is more like crab or shrimp.
So, although it is an ugly-looking fish, it is a good catch for food.
How to cook stargazer fish?
The stargazer can be cooked in different ways. Stargazer meat is an excellent choice for sashimi and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
You can prepare these fish by baking, poaching, steaming, grilling, pan-frying, deep-frying, and even barbequing.
In Italy, stargazers are used in delicious fish soups. Stargazer fish is also popular in Australia because of its lobster-like texture and flavor.
If you google for “stargazer fish recipe,” you will end up with many delicious recipes. Below is an easy recipe you can make with stargazer fish.
Deep-Fried Stargazer Fish
Cut stargazer fish into similar-sized cubes. Dip the pieces in batter, drain and sip them into the hot oil.
Deep fry the fish cubes for about 2 to 3 minutes until it turns brown. Taste the deep-fried fish with a sauce of your choice.
Stargazer fish Nutritional Information
Stargazer fish is a protein-rich food that contains 17.4 grams of protein in 100g serving, which is around 40% of the daily recommended value.
It also provides Vitamin B12 and Selenium with small amounts of Iodine, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Niacin (vitamin B3).
Stargazer fish is also known to have Omega 3 with total fat of only 2.4g per 100g serving.
How to catch stargazer fish?
Most anglers catch these fish by trawling, but you can easily catch them with fishing rods.
Fishing them is pretty easy because they stay on the substrate, looking up at all times. They will take small lures and also live bait.
The first step will be to take some hooks and make sure they’re barbed on both sides. Next, you can simply tie strings on the hooks and wait for stargazers to eat the bait.
You will have to reel the rod to the bottom of the sea as they live on sandy bottoms most of the time.
Stargazer fish live in marine waters around the world. They are poisonous and can electrify you.
But these little guys taste delicious if prepared correctly–so who knows? You may fall in love with this dangerous creature after all!
Read More: How To Get Rid Of Copepods In Fish Tank? | Aquarit’s Secrets |