Selected Characters: First dorsal fin small with 2-4 spines, second dorsal long and soft-rayed; anal fin long, soft-rayed; pelvic fins jugular; opercular spine; photophores present in our species.
Toadfishes are found in temperate and tropical waters. Most are marine but some species live in fresh or brackish water. These tend to be sluggish bottom-dwellers. Some members of the family have venom glands associated with their dorsal spines. There are 69 species in this family, only one of which occurs in Puget Sound. Our Plainfin Midshipman typically lives on sandy or muddy substrate near the shore. It lacks venom glands, but belongs to one of the only shallow-water fish genera that has photophores. This fish possesses a gasbladder which it uses to produce humming, grunting and growling noises, leading to the alternative common name "singing fish." Around Puget Sound this species is also commonly called "bullhead." This fish has very interesting reproductive behavior: the female, attracted by a male's humming, typically deposits several hundred eggs in a nest the male created under a rock. The eggs are guarded during development by this large, fasting 'parental' male. There are also small 'sneaker' males who superficially resemble females. Sneaker males never defend nests but approach a spawning pair and attempt to fertilize some of the eggs before being chased off by the resident male. Plainfin Midshipmen feed on other fishes and crustaceans, and are in turn eaten by seals, sea lions and birds. This fish is common in Puget Sound.
Puget Sound Species
Porichthys notatus Plainfin Midshipman