Hagfish are really weird fish. They live in the deep sea, and are covered with slime. There are actually about 30 species of hagfish; they are of the class of Agnatha, the order Myxini, and the family Myxinidae.

Hagfish are tan in color and look much like eels. Around their mouth are 8 feelers used for smelling; the mouth itself is a primitive hole. Hagfish have no bones or complex internal organs, and their bodies are composed of a strip of cartilage surrounded by muscle.

They're slimy. They exude slime. They often have to twist themselves into knots just to get rid of all the slime. They also twist in knots to constrict their prey (dying fish) while they suck out its guts.

Some other quick notes about the hagfish:

  • They have no jaws. Instead, they have two raspers above their tongue.
  • They are functionally hermaphroditic, meaning that while they have both male and female sex organs, they mature as one or the other, but have the capacity to change.
  • They have an incredibly low metabolism, and may need to eat only once every couple of months.
  • They can be found in great numbers in the colder ocean waters of the northern and southern hemispheres.
  • It is now known that while they do consume dead or dying fish, their diet consists principally of marine worms and invertebrates.
  • Despite the fact that they may be the most repulsive species of fish, over 5 millon pounds of hagfish is consumed annually in Korea.

Hag"fish`(- fish`),n.(Zoöl.)

See Hag, 4.


© Webster 1913

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