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Fun Black Swallower Facts For Kids

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Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Fun Black Swallower Facts For Kids

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The black swallower (Chiasmodon niger), sometimes referred to as the 'Ocean Monster', is a deep ocean fish found mostly in the Atlantic ocean. The black swallower fish-eating prey 10 times its mass is what they are most known for. Using its large mouth and very sharp teeth, the swallower is believed to seize its prey by its tail and then walk its jaws over the prey until the prey is totally coiled inside the swallower's stomach. Even though the fish is known for its ability to eat or swallow large fish, sometimes eating more than its capacity can also prove fatal. And that is how the first black swallower fish was discovered in 2007, when a swallower of 7.5 in (19 cm) was found dead on the coast of Grand Cayman. The swallower's stomach had a snake mackerel (Gempylus serpens) of 33.9 in (86 cm) inside its distensible stomach. This happens when the swallower swallows a fish so big that before the digestion could complete, the prey starts to decompose inside the stomach releasing gases that float the fish to the surface, killing it during the process.

Read on to know more black swallower facts. For more relatable content, check out these rockfish facts and Arctic char facts for kids.
 

Black Swallower Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black swallower?

The black swallower fish, Chiasmodon niger, is a deep-sea fish.

What class of animal does a black swallower belong to?

The black swallower fish belongs to the fish class and family Chiasmodontidae.

How many black swallowers are there in the world?

Black swallowers are found very deep in the sea and oceans, making it very hard to know their exact number. However, according to the IUCN Redlist black swallower fish is in abundance in the world.

Where does a black swallower live?

Black swallowers can be found 2.5 mi (4 km) below the surface of the ocean in the areas of the Atlantic oceans like the north and south-western Atlantic ocean.

What is a black swallower's habitat?

The preferable black swallower fish habitat is tropical and subtropical waters. However, there's a debate on whether this is completely true or not. While some believe that the black swallower can be found in the tropics only, others believe that the swallower can be found anywhere in the ocean as long as they have ample access to food. According to the latter group, The black swallower is found so deep in the waters with such freezing temperatures that the higher latitude or the warm waters can no longer play any big roles in it. The black swallower habitat is found in deep water zones called the mesopelagic and bathypelagic zones. This fish species can be as deep as 2.5 mi (4 km) from the ocean surface.

Who do black swallowers live with?

The fact whether they live alone or in large schools is hard to say as they live so deep into the ocean, that all the information available about the fish is completely based on its postmortems.

How long does a black swallower live?

There is not enough information about their lifespan.

How do they reproduce?

It is thought that the black swallowers follow an oviparous reproduction process, which means that the female black swallower lays fish. The female would lay the eggs in the areas of South Africa during the month of April or August. The eggs are pelagic, and their size varies from 0.04-0.05 in (1.1-1.3 mm) in diameter and travel deeper to the ocean from the surface as they mature. The eggs have six dark patches of pigments on them. As the eggs hatch and the larvae grow into juveniles, their bodies are covered with projecting spinules protecting them from predators while traveling into the deep sea.

What is their conservation status?

Given the deep ocean habitat these fish prefer, it is hard to determine how many fish of these species would be in the ocean. But because of the huge habitat range they have, the IUCN has listed them as Least Concern species.

Black Swallower Fun Facts

What do black swallowers look like?

Black swallowers have a very large mouth that it uses to suffocate and swallow prey. The jaws and mouth of this fish are covered in sharp teeth giving them the perfect grip to hold and swallow prey. These creatures lack a basic fish feature; they are scaleless. They have several long and sharp teeth in the front that this creature uses to push its prey inward by allowing to move through its jaws, pushing the prey backward and locking it in. The prey moves through a specialized gut that can distend so far that it hangs below their body. Because of this hanging gut, The stomach tissues are stretched into transparency. The fish also has long pectoral fins with 15 rays and small pelvic fins with five rays. Their first dorsal fin has 12 spines; the second fin has one strong spine and 29 rays. The anal fin also has one spine and 26-29 rays, with its caudal fin made of nine rays. This deep-sea creature also has continuous lateral lines with two pores on each segment of its body.

The black swallower fish facts also include that it has sharp teeth lined on its jaws to suffocate its prey.

*Please note that this is an image of dogtooth tuna of the same family as the black swallower. If you have an image of a black swallower, please let us know at [email protected].

How cute are they?

These deep-sea creatures are not cute at all. In fact, they have been given the name of 'Deep Ocean Monster' because of their sharp teeth on their jaws and the ability to swallow prey twice its length and 10 times its mass.

How do they communicate?

The black swallower in the ocean lives in an environment with no light at all. This absence of light helped the swallowers develop bioluminescence, which helps them attract their prey, communicate with other fish, and in courtship.

How big is a black swallower?

The black swallower fish size doesn't grow more than 9.8 in (24.8 cm) long, which is twice or thrice smaller than the anglerfish.

How fast can a black swallower swim?

The only black swallower used for studies was the one found dead on the surface of the ocean. Hence it is unknown how fast a black swallower can swim.

How much does a black swallower weigh?

Since all the studies ever conducted on black swallowers are on the ones found dead on the ocean surface, it is unknown what they would weigh as living creatures.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and females of this species are not given any separate names.

What would you call a baby black swallower?

Like all other fish babies, the black swallower baby is also called a larva or larvae. These larvae are hatched from their eggs on the ocean surface and travel back to the ocean floor as they mature. During their juvenile years, they have spikes covering their body to protect them from becoming prey while they are traveling down. As they mature into adults, their body starts turning smoother with no scales or spikes.

What do they eat?

The black swallower creature is known for swallowing its prey without chewing them. The black swallower eating or swallowing prey twice its length and 10 times its mass is what it's more popular for. Although it is very popular that this creature likes bony fishes as their food, the first swallower discovered at the Grand Cayman had a 33.9 in (86 cm) long snake mackerel (Gempylus serpens) in its stomach. It is unknown which fish prey on this species.

Are they dangerous?

Although they possess no threat to humans because of their deep ocean habitat, they can be of huge threat to the aquatic creature even if they are 10 times their mass.

Would they make a good pet?

Sadly, they won't make a great pet due to two reasons. Firstly, they live so deep in the ocean that no one has ever even photographed them. If they are brought to the surface, they will be dead on their way up. Secondly, their sharp teeth and monstrous look won't make them a very suitable choice as pets.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The black swallower is a part of the Percomorpha fish, which is a type of bony fish. Fishes like tuna, anglerfish, seahorses, scorpionfish, wrasse are all Percomorpha fish. The family these fish belong to is also known as 'snake teeth fishes' or as 'swallowers'.

What role does the black swallower play in the ecosystem?

Black swallowers are known to eat or swallow their prey instead of chewing them. They store their food in their stomach that gets digested inside their body over time. They do this in order to fight the scarcity of food in the depths of the ocean. Since it is not easy to find food deep in the ocean every day, this fish has adapted a way to store large amounts of food in its distensible stomach.

Why is it called a black swallower?

The black swallower is known for its ability to swallow fishes larger than their own size. They feed on bony fishes, which they swallow whole instead of chewing. Also, they have very dark and smooth skin. That is why this fish is called a black swallower, for the ability to swallow prey twice its length and 10 times its mass.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these monkfish interesting facts and blue tang surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable black swallower coloring pages.

*Please note that this is an image of an anglerfish that belongs to the same family as the black swallower. If you have an image of a black swallower, please let us know at [email protected].
 

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