Oyster Toadfish (Opsanus tau)
This unusual beast fits the bill for anyone seeking a pet that seems to cross the line between fish and amphibian. Although quite capable of swimming, they generally “walk” across the bottom of the aquarium, and, indeed, some Asian species are known to leave the water and cross mud flats for considerable distances. They're also quite vocal, and many of their sounds are audible above the water.
The male oyster toadfish can reach a length of 14 inches and a weight of up to 1 pound. Although the colors are a muted brown, green, and gold, they are quite attractive and serve to camouflage the animal very well. Fleshy tassels also help break up the animal's outline and help it to ambush unwary prey. The oyster toadfish ranges from Maine to North Carolina, along the eastern coast of the United States, and is also found sporadically as far south as Cuba.
Oyster toadfish will become quite bold, and even tame in captivity, but they do feel stressed without a shelter. In the wild, they often live inside discarded cans, shoes, and the like. If denied a shelter in captivity, they will attempt to dig into the substrate until they find themselves a suitably hidden spot. If you have a large enough aquarium, perhaps 55 gallons or so, you can embark on no more interesting project than that of attempting to breed oyster toadfish. Males guard the eggs, which are laid in their caves or shelters, until hatching. During this time, they eat only what food happens to come near to the entrance of their shelter, and they have been known to stay with nests that are exposed at low tide.
Oyster toadfish have large powerful jaws and sharp teeth and will bite when handled. They also have spines that can inflict painful wounds. The spines of several South and Central American species are connected to venom glands.
Oyster toadfish have been known to survive in captivity for up to fifteen years, and have extremely large and easily pleased appetites. They especially enjoy foods such as small fish, shrimp, and clams, but will also take sinking pellets. Well acclimated individuals will leave a shelter to feed from forceps, and they seemed to anticipate feeding when their owner approaches, leaving their shelters and swimming back and forth along the glass.