Toad Fish, a spiny-rayed fish of the lophius family, and genus batrachus (Bloch), so named from its large head, wide gape, usually naked skin, and disgusting appearance; it is also called frog fish and oyster fish. The head is flattened and wider than the body; teeth conical, small and crowded on the intermaxillaries, larger on the lower jaw, palate, and vomer; operculum small and spiny; head, lips, and cheeks provided with numerous fleshy appendages; lower jaw the longer; first dorsal short, with three spinous rays almost concealed in the skin; second dorsal and anal low, soft, and long; ventrals under the throat, narrow, with three rays; pectorals on short arms of five carpal bones; fourth branchial arch without gills; body generally scaleless; no pyloric casca; air bladder deeply forked anteriorly, attached to the vertebras by slender ligaments, and muscular on the sides. They hide in the sand and mud of salt water, and occur in both hemispheres, preying on fish. There are more than a dozen species, of which one of the best known is the grunting toad fish (B. gmrnniens, Bloch), found in the seas of the East Indies; the skin is naked, smooth, soft and spongy; the head and jaws with numerous cutaneous appendages; the color is brownish above, marbled with darker, below white, fins white with brown bands; it is 8 to 13 in. long, and is said to be eaten at Bombay; it received its specific name from its making a grunting noise like a pig, from the expulsion of air by the muscular air bladder through the mouth. - The common American toad fish (B. tan, De Kay) is much like the East Indian, with half a dozen more rays in the second dorsal and anal, stronger teeth, more prominent dorsal spines, and rather darker colors; it is 8 in. to a foot long, light brown, marbled with black, and the fins with black lines; the body is covered with a copious viscid secretion; the mouth very large, and the chin and cheeks with numerous fleshy appendages.
It is found from Maine to the gulf of Mexico and the West Indies, on the New England coast usually in ponds and lagoons connected with the sea, in muddy shoal water, or under eel grass and stones. The disgusting appearance of this fish, its slimy body, goggle eyes, and immense mouth, have generally prevented the use of its flesh as food, though it is said to be delicate, palatable, and wholesome; it is a savage biter, and capable of inflicting severe wounds. Other species are found in the Indian and African seas, and some larger ones with soft scales on the Brazilian coast.
American Toad Fish (Batrachus tau).