Midshipman fish

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Midshipman fish
Temporal range: Late Miocene-Present[1]
~11.6–0 Ma
Plainfin Midshipman.JPG
Plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Batrachoidiformes
Family: Batrachoididae
Subfamily: Porichthyinae
Genus: Porichthys
Girard 1854
Type species
Porichthys notatus
Girard 1854[2]

See text

Midshipman fish belong to the genus Porichthys of toadfishes. They are distinguished by having photophores (which they use to attract prey and after which they are named, reminding some of a naval uniform's buttons) and four lateral lines. Typical midshipman fishes, such as the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus), are nocturnal and bury themselves in sand or mud in the intertidal zone during the day. At night they float just above the seabed. Some species have venomous dorsal spines and are capable of inflicting serious injuries if handled.[3]


Male midshipman fish have two morphs: type I and type II. Type I and type II males have different reproductive strategies, and can be distinguished from each other based on physical characteristics. Type I males are eight times larger in body mass, and have much larger vocal organs. Type II males’ reproductive organs are seven times larger in size than those of type I males.[4] Female and type II male midshipman fish can be distinguished from each other by the female’s slightly larger size, and the type II male midshipman’s large reproductive organs.[5]


Atlantic midshipman (Porichthys plectrodon)
Photophores on an Atlantic midshipman. Midshipman fish are named after their photophores.

Extant species[edit]

There are currently 14 recognized extant species in this genus:[6]

Fossil species[edit]


Reproduction and vocalization[edit]

Mating in midshipman fishes depends on auditory communication. Male midshipman fish produce several different vocalizations while females only make grunts in non-breeding situations.[4]


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, W. N.; R. Fricke & R. van der Laan (eds.). "Porichthys". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  3. ^ Lopes-Ferreira, Mônica; Ramos, Anderson Daniel; Martins, Itamar Alves; Lima, Carla; Conceição, Katia; Haddad, Vidal (2014). "Clinical manifestations and experimental studies on the spine extract of the toadfish Porichthys porosissimus". Toxicon. Elsevier BV. 86: 28–39. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2014.04.014. ISSN 0041-0101.
  4. ^ a b Brantley RK and Bass AH. 1994. Alternative male spawning tactics and acoustic signaling in the plainfin midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus. Ethology 96: 213-232.
  5. ^ Lee SFL and Bass AH. 2006. Dimorphic male midshipman fish: reduced sexual selection or sexual selection for reduced characters? Behavioral Ecology 17(4): 670-675.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Porichthys in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  7. ^ Onzole Formation at Fossilworks.org
  8. ^ Porichthys pedemontanus at Fossilworks.org

External links[edit]