Oyster Toadfish (Opsanus tau) - Wiki
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[Photo] Oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau). Original description: An oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau), like those that are part of the Neurolab payload on Space Shuttle Mission STS-90, is shown in its holding tank in the Space Station Processing Facility. Each fish is between eight and 14 inches long. Toadfish live in an estuarine environment and are native to areas along the Northeast coast of the United States. Investigations during the Neurolab mission will focus on the effects of microgravity on the nervous system. This fish is an excellent model for looking at vestibular function because the architecture of its inner and middle ear are similar to those of mammals with respect to the vestibular apparatus. Source: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/detail.cfm?mediaid=2656
The oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau, also known as the ugly toad or the oyster cracker, is a fish of the family Batrachoididae. The maximum length of the toadfish is about 38 cm; the most common recorded length of an oyster toadfish is about 30 cm. They are generally yellowish with a pattern of brown oblique bars.
The species can live in very bad conditions and needs little food to live. It is an omnivore. Common prey include crustaceans, mollusks, amphipods, squid, and other smaller fish. Toadfish rely upon camouflage to catch their food; they lie motionless waiting for prey to wander close by, then attack by surprise. They can be found anywhere from Maine to the Caribbean Sea.
The fish has a distinctive "foghorn" sound that is used by males to attract females in the mating season, which is April-October. Following the foghorn sound, the female comes into the nest, lays eggs, then leaves (the toadfish lays the largest eggs of any Chesapeake Bay fish). The male fertilizes the egg; they hatch after approximately one month. When the eggs hatch the young toadfish stay attached to the yolk for some time. When the yolk has been absorbed for energy, the young toadfish learn to swim. Even when the young have started to swim the adult still protects its young.
Interestingly enough, the oyster toadfish has been to space. NASA used them in an experiment to investigate the effects of microgravity on the development of otolithic organs.
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