Members of the Lophiiformes, commonly known as anglerfishes, are marine and are mostly confined to the deep sea. They are characterised by the development of a fishing lure from the first dorsal spine.
Classification of the group is treated in Pietsch (1984) and Pietsch & Grobecker (1987), who recognised five suborders: Ogocephaloidei, Ceratioidei, Chaunacoidei, Antennarioidei and Lophioidei. Nelson (2006) recognised three suborders: Lophioidei. Antennarioidei and Ogocephalioidei (Ogocephaloidei, Chaunacoidei and Ceratioidei of Pietsch). The suborders are not treated separately here. Nelson, however, included the families in the various suborders as follows: Lophioidei with Lophiidae; the Antennarioidei with the families Antennariidae and Brachionichthyidae; and, Ogocephalioidei with three superfamilies — the Chaunacioidea with Chaunacidae, the Ogcocephalioidea with Ogcocephalidae, and the Ceratioidea with the remaining families.
Adult deepsea anglers are found in the midwaters of all major oceans at depths from 500 m to below 3000 m, with most found below 1000 m. A strong sexual dimorphism is present in the group, with the females being much longer than the dwarfed males. All, but Neoceratias have the first ray of the dorsal fin modified as a 'fishing lure/rod' (illicium) over the mouth; in all but the Caulophrynidae the illicium is tipped with a luminous body, the esca. The ceratioids lack pelvic fins and scales, although spines or prickles may be present, and most are black in colour. The tiny ceratioid males lack the illicium and, with large pincer-like teeth, appear to be adapted to feeding on the females.
The deepsea anglerfishes placed in the suborder Ceratioidei (sometimes superfamily Ceratioidea) were reviewed on a worldwide basis by Bertelsen (1951). Bertelsen & Pietsch (1983) reviewed and figured the Australian species of eight families of deepsea anglers. Some 130 species of ceratioid anglers are known worldwide; 15 species have been recorded from Australian waters. Many are treated in Anderson & Leslie (2001). Bertelsen (1984) and Pietsch (1984) discussed relationships.
Anderson, M.E. & Leslie, R.W. 2001. Review of the deep-sea anglerfishes (Lophiiformes: Ceratioidei) of southern Africa. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 70: 1-32
Bertelsen, E. 1951. The ceratioid fishes ontogeny, taxonomy, distribution and biology. Dana Reports 39: 1-276 figs 1-141 1 pl.
Bertelsen, E. 1984. Ceratioidei: development and relationships. 325-334 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1-760
Bertelsen, E. & Pietsch, T.W. 1983. The ceratioid anglerfishes of Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 35(2): 77-99 figs 1-18
Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.
Pietsch, T.W. 1984. Lophiiformes: development and relationships. 320-325 figs 164-166 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1-760
Pietsch, T.W. & Grobecker, D.B. 1987. Frogfishes of the World: Systematics, Zoogeography, and Behavioral Ecology. Palo Alto : Stanford University Press 420 pp.