Wolffish is the
name of five species of aggressive ocean fish. Three species of wolffish live in the North
Atlantic, and two inhabit the North Pacific. Wolffish get their name from their large,
fanglike front teeth, which they use to tear apart their food. Their powerful jaws crush
the shells of clams, crabs, and other hard-shelled animals they eat. Wolffish are known to
attack when they are threatened.
Wolffish may grow more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and may weigh more than 40 pounds (18
kilograms). They are mainly brown or gray with dark vertical bands or dark spots on the
body. Wolffish eggs are among the largest of known fish eggs, measuring about 1/4 inch (6
millimeters) in diameter. A large female may lay as many as 40,000 eggs in round masses.
Wolffish serve as important food fish in parts of North America, northern Europe, and
northern Asia. Their strong, durable skin makes a good leather used for pouches,
bookbindings, and other articles.
Scientific classification. Wolffish belong to the family Anarhichadidae.
Contributor: Tomio Iwamoto, Ph.D., Curator of Ichthyology, California Academy of