The Tripod Fish, also known as a 'stilt walker', is a very unique and interesting species of fish that lives deep in the ocean. It gets it's name due to the fact that it has three long fin rays, two protruding from the pelvic fin and the third from the lower part of the tail, giving it the appearance of a tripod. They are a type of benthic fish (an animal whose habitat is the ocean floor), it is very rare for this fish to leave the floor of the ocean and it spends most of it's life there waiting for food perched on its fins. They are usually found at depths of between 800 - 4000 metres, on the lower slopes, continental rise and oceanic ridges. These are known as the midnight and abyssal zones, so called because it is an area of total darkness, so far beneath the ocean surface that the sun is unable to penetrate.
When hunting, the tripod fish stiffens it's fins and uses them to stand raised on the sea bed like a tripod, facing in the direction of the current where there is more chance of crustaceans and zooplankton drifting by. Currents are virtually none existent on the ocean floor but by using it's fins to raise itself up by 3ft, this makes them high enough to reach at least some current. It then uses it's pectoral fins as a kind of antenna by raising them above it's body to detect prey. Once prey is detected they then use these fins to direct the food into their mouths. This method of hunting does not require the use of much energy so is perfect for fish living in the deep ocean where the temperature is near freezing.
Tripod fish tend to be found in temperate and tropical oceans, the global regions they can most commonly be found in are the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from 40 Degrees North to 40 Degrees South, this is the middle global region of the Earth. As the habitat of these fish is so inaccessible, the study on them has been relatively scarce.
Although the fish is relatively small with the common body length being around 30cm (12in), the fins can grow as long as 1m (3.3ft) making them appear much larger.
The fish lead a solitary life and have evolved into hermaphrodites in order to ensure that their species keeps going. This means that they do not need to find a mate in order to reproduce. If they do meet another then they will still mate in the usual way.
The tripod fish's Latin and Greek name is Bathypterois grallator. "Bathypterois" means deep feathery due to it's deep ocean habitat and long, featherlike fins. "Grallator" means one who walks on stilts due to the impression of walking it gives while hunting with it's long fins.
Despite coming from different global regions of the world, there is a similarity between some types of ice fish and the tripod fish.