This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!
Also known as the tripod spiderfish and the stilt walker, Bathypterois grallator is a deep sea dweller (900 to 4700 meters or approximately 2900 feet to 15400 feet) which uses its bizarre, elongated tail fin rays and its two stilt-like pectoral fins to perch itself on the ooze—the thick pelagic sediment consisting of the ground up and weathered fallen remains of upper-sea dwellers and other alien deposits from above.
The body of this fish reaches nearly 2 feet in length, however its extended fins can reach lengths of just over 1 meter. While the fins appear quite rigid, they can be quite flexible when they need to make a quick getaway. It is hypothesized that they are able to pump their fins full of fluid (try saying that 3 times fast) in order to stiffen them. They position themselves face first in the current on their tripod and wait in the darkness for their next meal. They don’t have special visual adaptations, rather they use their overhead fins as tactile sensors which they use to practically smack food into their mouths as they feel it approaching from upstream.
Being so down in the dark deep, finding a mating partner can be difficult sometimes. The tripodfish has developed a fascinating ability to change sex, say if a female comes across a female and a male is more in need, or even lay eggs, change to a male, and fertilize those same eggs. Pretty neat, huh?