Project Description

Oyster Toadfish: Photo by Flying Cat Studios on Flickr.

Audiograph Oyster Toadfish, Source: Sounds of the Western North Atlantic Fishes by Fish & Mowbray, 1970, University of Rhode Island, 2001

The Opsanus Tau is related to the Midshipman under the family Batrachoididae (toad-like fish) and inhabit the same type of inner tidal areas. They also breathe air out of water and given the habitat and the structure of the pectoral fins they likely have some kinship to the various fishes that made their way out of water and on to land some 200 million years ago.

Their characteristic “boat whistle” is produced by oscillating muscles around the swim bladder, which they use as a resonator. These muscles are one of the fastest vertebrate muscles.

General Information:

Latin Name:
Opsanus tau
AKA:
Ugly toad, Oyster cracker, Bar dog, Dowdy
Length:
avg. 30 cm (12”) max 38 cm (15”)
Weight:
Max 580g (1.3 lbs)
Lifetime:
Both males and females mature in their second year and live to approximately 8 and 5 years, respectively.
Physical Traits:
yellowish with a pattern of brown bars, camouflage patterns
Behavior:
males build nests of debris and then signals to females with a “boat-whistle” call, after female lays the eggs the male then protects the nest and cares for the eggs, hunts by using it’s camouflage and surprise attacks
Habitat:
bottom dweller, shallow water among rocky substrate and any debris for shelter, can survive very bad conditions
Locations:
from Maine to the Caribbean Sea
Food:
crustaceans, mollusks, amphipods, squid, and other smaller fish
Predators:
Sharks, rays
Links:
Literature:

Amorim, M.C.P., McCracken, M.L. and Fine, M.L. 2002. Metabolic costs of sound production in the oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:830-838.Fish, M.P. and Mowbray, H.M. 1970. Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. pg. 192-193.