Fun Lanternfish Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Lanternfish Facts For Kids

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The species of lanternfish, also called Symbolophorus barnardi, is a deep-sea fish that gets its name from its light-producing ability. The light is given off by little organs called photophores.

The lanternfish can be found in all the open oceans in the world. Lanternfish contribute to over 65% of the biomass in the deep-sea layer, also called the deep scattering layer.

A chemical action within the photophores provides light, and this chemical phenomenon is called bioluminescence, wherein they glow. It is the same phenomenon exhibited by fireflies as well. The photophores are on the lanternfish's head, underside, and tail. These light organs help illuminate light that allows this fish to attract small fish that it preys on.

Let's have a look at these interesting facts, and if you like these, do read our redbreast sunfish facts and clownfish facts.

Fun Lanternfish Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Shrimp, Fish Eggs, Fish Larvae

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

100-2000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.02 lb (12.11 g)

How long are they?

1-6 in (2.5-15 cm)

How tall are they?

6 ft (1.8 m)

What do they look like?

Silver, Green

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Predators

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Seas And Oceans


Open Oceans Of The World









Lanternfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a lanternfish?

Lanternfish are small deep-sea fish of the large family Myctophidae.

What class of animal does a lanternfish belong to?

These deep-sea light-producing lanternfish belong to the class Actinopterygii.

How many lanternfish are there in the world?

There are about 250-300 different species of lanternfish.

Where do lanternfish live?

Lantern fish live most of their lives 3,000 ft (0.914 km) under the surface of the oceans. These lanternfish swim up nearer to the surface in the dark to seek food, abundant larger organisms, and to avoid predators.

What is a lanternfish's habitat?

The different species' preferable areas are the ocean surface, lakes, and ponds with gravel, sand, or bedrock bottoms. They can be found at 1,200-3,000 ft (360-914 m) sea level. These fish occupy the twilight zone, which is the deep-sea layer with very little sunlight. With increasing latitude in the water and decreasing temperature, these fish are capable of developing more.

Who do lanternfish live with?

Lanternfish live with fish from the same family, Myctophidae. They live in groups called schools or shoals.

How long does a lanternfish live?

Giant lanternfish live up to three or four years.

How do they reproduce?

Lanternfish do not guard their eggs once they drop them. Lanternfish females drop their eggs into the water column as a splurt. These eggs are then fertilized externally by the males. Up to 2,000 eggs can be released by each fish.

What is their conservation status?

Lantern fish are considered to be of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Lanternfish Fun Facts

What do Lanternfish look like?

Lanternfish glow because these fish species have photophores.

Lantern fish usually have a sleek bodies coated with tiny, silvery cycloid scales. They have a big rounded head, giant elliptical to spherical eyes, and a big mouth with jaws set with rows of tiny teeth. The fins are usually tiny, with one high dorsal fin, a forked caudal fin, and a fatty fin. The anal fin is supported by a cartilaginous plate at its base and comes after the rear part of the fin. Most soft-finned fish have a gall bladder. However, it degenerates or fills with lipids when the species mature in the ocean.

In all but one species, the Taaningichthys paurolychnus, lanternfish photophores (light-producing organs) are present. Some may have these photophores near the eyes or the bottom of the fins. The photophores emit an ambient light that is a weak blue, green, or traffic signal. These lights emitted can follow species-specific patterns. In some species, the pattern varies between males and females also.

How cute are they?

They are fascinating because of the way they radiate light through their photophores in the depth of the ocean amidst biomass, though we wouldn't necessarily call them cute!

How do they communicate?

Lantern fish uses bioluminescence through photophores for camouflage. They have light organs that act as a beacon for communication. In the ocean waters, they use these lights to attract small fish that they prey on and communicate with other lanternfish while mating.

How big is a lanternfish?

Lantern fish are typically tiny, about 0.79 to 11.81 in (2-30 cm) long, with most being less than 5.9 in ( 15 cm).

How fast can a lanternfish swim?

Lanternfish can swim very fast to escape predators, however, their exact speed is not known.

How much does a lanternfish weigh?

A lanternfish weighs 0.02 lb (12.11 g) on average.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and females of the species.

What would you call a baby lanternfish?

There are no specific names given to baby lanternfish.

What do they eat?

Lanternfish follow the diel vertical migration where they feed during the night and migrate during the day. These carnivores tend to feed on food like planktonic animals at a depth from the surface of 1300 ft (400 m).

These fish are a major supply of food for several marine predators, being heavily preyed upon by whales and dolphins, massive water fish like salmon, tuna, sharks, grenadiers, and other sea fish (including blue lanternfish).

Are they eaten by humans?

Humans do not eat these light-producing fishes as food because they are typically deep-sea fish and many regulatory bodies warn against consuming these fishes.

Would they make a good pet?

They would not make good pets because they are deep-sea fishes, and we wouldn't be able to provide them with an ideal environment.

Did you know...

Lanternfish use bioluminescence via their photophores to shield themselves from predators. By making their bodies glow, their silhouette becomes less visible.

Lanternfish are famous for their diel vertical migrations.

Sampling by deep trawling tells us that lanternfish species account for 65% of all deep-sea fish biomass.

Anglerfish use their outgrowth to attract their prey, whereas lanternfish use bioluminescence to lure in their prey. They are two different fish types.

What are some other names for lanternfish?

Lanternfish are also referred to as myctophids.

What are the adaptations for a lanternfish?

Sensitivity - The lanternfish's vision is generally poor because these mesopelagic organisms live in dim surroundings, but their eyes have adapted to be extra sensitive. To constantly reinforce sensitivity, lanternfishes possess many visual diversifications that optimize light absorption.

Acuity And Specialization - As a necessary trade-off for their high sensitivity, myctophids have terrible acuity, meaning their peripheral perception of their surroundings is very poor. When there is a school of lanternfish, you should know they stick together only when they need to support each other.

Sexual Dimorphism - A novel retinal adaptation was found in 10 species of lanternfish out of 61 analyzed, all from the Myctophinae taxon. They developed a yellow pigmentation that acted as a filter, absorbing smaller wavelengths of light waves.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including conger eel facts, or neon tetra facts.

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

Written By
Divya Raghav

Divya Raghav dons many hats, that of a writer, a community manager, and a strategist. She was born and raised in Bangalore. After completing her Bachelor’s in Commerce from Christ University, she is pursuing her MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. With diverse experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. She loves to bake, dance, and write content and is an avid animal lover.

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