Viperfish

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For the bulgarian rock band, see Viperfish (band).
The name "viperfish" is also sometimes applied to the lesser weever.
Viperfish
Temporal range: 11–0 Ma

Late Miocene to Present[1]
Viperfish small.png
Dana viperfish, Chauliodus danae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Stomiiformes
Family: Stomiidae
Genus: Chauliodus
Bloch & J. G. Schneider, 1801
Species

See text.

A viperfish is a saltwater fish in the genus Chauliodus, with long, needle-like teeth and hinged lower jaws. They grow to lengths of 30 to 60 cm (12 - 24 inches). Viperfish stay near lower depths (250–5,000 feet) in the daytime and shallow at night, primarily in tropical and temperate waters. It is one of the fiercest predators in the deep sea and is believed to attack its prey by luring them with a light-producing organ called a photophore, which is located on the end of its dorsal spine. It flashes this natural light on and off, at the same time moving its dorsal spine around like a fishing rod and hanging completely still in the water. It also uses the light producing organ to communicate to potential mates and rivals.

Viperfish vary in color among green, silver, and black. A viperfish uses its fang-like teeth to immobilize prey and would not be able to close its mouth because of their length, if it were not able to curve them behind its head. The first vertebra behind the head of the viperfish is known to absorb the shock of its attacks which are mainly targeted against dragonfish and other small creatures. They are able to undergo long periods with scarcely any food.

Viperfish are believed to live from 30 to 40 years in the wild, but in captivity they rarely live more than a few hours. Some species of dolphins and sharks are known to prey upon viperfish. Scientists believe they can swim at a speed of two body lengths per second, but this is not yet an official speed.

The Viperfish can grow between 12 and 24 inches and are usually grey or dark blue in color. Although it may look like it is covered in scales, it in fact is covered by a thick, transparent coating of unknown substance[2] Extremely large, fang-like teeth gives the fish a slightly protruded lower jaw which makes catching prey easy for this deep-sea predator. The Viperfish is lined with three different types of photophores which some speculate is used to lure in unsuspecting prey [3] They have microscopic spheres without a pigment layer that are scattered over the dorsal side, large spheres with a pigment coat, reflectors, and lens, and finally, large, bell-shaped organs with a pigment coat, reflectors, and lens that are grouped together in rows along the dorsal surface. Photophores can also be seen along the ventral and lateral surface of the fish [4]

Habitat[edit]

Due to the depth of the habitat of the Chauliodus genera, little information has been gathered. They are known to be bathypelagic fish which means that they live in the bathypelagic region of the Ocean. This region extends from a depth of 1000 to 4000 meters with an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. During the night, the Viperfish has been observed in the region mesopelagic which lies directly above the region bathypelagic [5] From these observations, it can be said that the Viperfish has a vertical diurnal migration, but more direct observation is needed.

Feeding[edit]

Due to the depth of the Viperfishes habitat, very little information has been gathered regarding their feeding habits. They are known to be random eater ingesting lanternfish, myctophidaes, and other fish [6] With their dark, transparent coat they can appear invisible and have been known to remain motionless for hours ready to strike on unsuspecting prey [7] With their long, fang-like teeth they pierce their prey; killing the fish and ingesting it whole. It is believed that the light photophores are used in the luring of prey, but there is not enough evidence to support this theory.

Species[edit]

There are currently nine recognized species in this genus:[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2004). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  2. ^ Haffner, Rudolph E. "Zoogeography of the bathypelagic fish, Chauliodus." Systematic Zoology 1.3 (1952): 113-133.
  3. ^ Haffner, Rudolph E. "Zoogeography of the bathypelagic fish, Chauliodus." Systematic Zoology 1.3 (1952): 113-133.
  4. ^ Butler, Mari, et al. "Mesopelagic fishes of the Arabian Sea: distribution, abundance and diet of Chauliodus pammelas, Chauliodus sloani, Stomias affinis, and Stomias nebulosus." Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 48.6 (2001): 1369-1383.
  5. ^ Haffner, Rudolph E. "Zoogeography of the bathypelagic fish, Chauliodus." Systematic Zoology 1.3 (1952): 113-133.
  6. ^ Butler, Mari, et al. "Mesopelagic fishes of the Arabian Sea: distribution, abundance and diet of Chauliodus pammelas, Chauliodus sloani, Stomias affinis, and Stomias nebulosus." Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 48.6 (2001): 1369-1383.
  7. ^ Deep Sea Creatures. “Viperfish” 2014. Web. http://deepseacreatures.org/viperfish
  8. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Chauliodus in FishBase. February 2012 version.