How long do they live? Likely due to a very slow growth rate the orange roughy can live up to 149 years [1] or longer.

Where are they found? They’re found in the really deep and cold waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans [2].

What do they eat? These kind of creepy looking fish (see figure 1) eat other fish, prawns, squid,  and crustaceans [3].

Figure 1. This is what you place next to your fish bowl to scare the hell out of your goldfish. Pictured, a preserved orange roughy.

What do they look like? Umm, look at figure 1. Add in some more orange and that’s what an orange roughy looks like. They grow to be around 15 pounds.

Figure 2. A less scary version of the orange roughy.

How do they reproduce? Like most fish, they release their eggs in large batches into the water and males release sperm into the water.  Similar to the lake sturgeon, these fish don’t reach reproductive maturity until they’re between 23 and 40 years old [4]. The fertilized eggs are very tiny, but they eventually develop into a very long-lived, yet terrifying looking creature. Well, that’s if they don’t get eaten by something else (figure 3).

Figure 3. There are 7.4 billion human mouths to feed on this planet. How we haven’t already eaten everything that moves is kind of shocking.

How do scientists know how old they are? Scientists count growth rings on the fish and they also use radiometric dating to make age estimates [1].

So what are we lacking? There’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of Hoplostethus atlanticus on NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Okay, really? No information, none…At all? Reproductive senescence data is not available.

Conservation status: Vulnerable.

Please contact me if you’d like to contribute information about any species on this website.

1. Fenton, G. E., S. A. Short, and D. A. Ritz. “Age determination of orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus (Pisces: Trachichthyidae) using210Pb: 226Ra disequilibria.” Marine biology 109.2 (1991): 197-202.

2. Branch, T. A. “A review of orange roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus fisheries, estimation methods, biology and stock structure.” South African Journal of Marine Science 23.1 (2001): 181-203.

3. Bulman, C. M., and J. A. Koslow. “Diet and food consumption of a deep-sea fish, orange roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus(Pisces: Trachichthyidae), off southeastern Australia.” Marine ecology progress series. Oldendorf 82.2 (1992): 115-129.

4. Managing risk and uncertainty in deep-sea fisheries : lessons from orange roughy / M. Lack, K. Short, A. Willock