15 Fin-tastic Facts About The Quillfish For Kids

Quillfish facts about the fish species that can be sighted along surface at night.

The quillfish has a streamlined body, a pair of fins, and a tail fin. This fact file is about such an elongated fish that looks like an eel or even a snake, a quillfish is from the genus Ptilichthys and is rarely seen during the day.  A quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) shows serpent-like movement and grows around 13.7-15.7 in (35-40 cm) in length. Its scientific name is Ptilichthys goodei and belongs to the suborder Zoarcoidel, the largest order of Perciformes. It has a tiny mouth and hooked spines and tail fin that is reduced. This nocturnal being from the family Ptilichthyidae is native to the north Pacific Ocean and is found in a variety of places across the ocean.  

Here are some interesting facts about the quillfish from the family Ptilichthyidae for your perusal. Afterward, do check out codfish facts and wreckfish facts as well.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Aquatic worms, fish eggs, aquatic crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

50-100 eggs

How much do they weigh?

Up to 2.2 lb (1 kg)

How long are they?

Up to 13.3 in (33.7 cm)

How tall are they?

Small size

What do they look like?

Reddish brown long body

Skin Type

Slimy exoskeleton

What are their main threats?

Over fishing

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Central Oregon north to Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Okhotsk, the Kuril Islands


Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean





Scientific Name

Ptilichthys Goodei





Quillfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a quillfish?

A quillfish, (Ptilichthys goodei) from the family Ptilichthyidae, is a fish that shows serpent-like movement and is found in vast oceans. It is a nocturnal fish that emerges to the surface at night and has an elongated body with a dorsal tail reduced in size. Little is known about the daytime habits of this species.

What class of animal does a quillfish belong to?

A quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) is a fish belonging to the class Actinopterygii of the phylum Chordata, genus Ptilichthys, of kingdom Animalia found among other fishes. It is believed that this fish species is generally attracted to lights.

How many quillfish are there in the world?

These fishes of the family Ptilichthyidae with a long body length are found to be stable for now but the proper estimation of their population is not known since they are nocturnal beings and only come out at night. They are believed to be attracted to lights that are shining into the water.

Where does a quillfish live?

A quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) lives and is found in the marine environment of the shallow waters of the North Pacific Ocean at the depth of 1180 ft (359.6 m) mostly in muddy substrates on the surface at night. They are found in the east and the west Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Central Oregon and near the Aleutian island, Sea of Okhotsk Kuril island, and South Japan. Some individuals of this fish species can  also be found in the Bering Sea. They surface at night in the ocean but little is known about their normal daytime habits.

What is a quillfish's habitat?

A Ptilichthys goodei is a nocturnal (surface at night) fish species that only comes out at night as this species are attracted to lights along the water surface. Little is known about the daytime habits of this species. This fish species prefers to remain in deep water and is found there with a temperature range less than 86 F (30 C). In Alaska, adult fishes live in soft substrates such as sand or mud.

Who do quillfish live with?

A quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) may live in its own small group with the members of its own species. Besides, they are scared of bigger predators and hence they stay away from possible threats. But being attracted to light, this species can often be spotted at the water surface at night as these fishes are attracted to lights on the water surface. Little is known about the daytime habits of this species.

How long does a quillfish live?

A lot is not known about quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) but it is estimated this fish species may live for a year or a little longer.

How do they reproduce?

Not a lot is recognized and known about the reproduction in the Ptilichthys goodei fishes. A male and female Ptilichthys goodei mate after courtship displays. After the mating process, the female lays the eggs in the small burrow she makes in the ocean ground and the male fish then fertilizes them externally.

What is their conservation status?

Little is known about the population of this fish species in the Pacific Ocean. Reports suggest that they are present in good numbers and have not been evaluated by the IUCN.  

Quillfish Fun Facts

What do quillfish look like?

Quillfish species can be found from central Oregon north to Alaska through the Aleutian Islands.
*Please note that this is an image of an eel fish, not a quillfish. If you have an image of a quillfish, please let us know at

Often mistaken for an eel or a snake, a Ptilichthys goodei is an aquatic animal mostly nocturnal (surface at night) in behavior. It has an elongated and slender body. Its body appears like a quill because the dorsal and the anal wings are long and tall. Its very small head is its characteristic feature. Dorsal fins are made up of 90 low spines that are isolated and these are followed by around 190 soft rays. A mature quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) is characterized by a long and almost filamentous tail.

How cute are they?

These animals are not at all cute. This fish species from the north Pacific is sort of sluggish and has a slimy exoskeleton. They are generally attracted to lights and they bury themselves under the ground in the water bodies, only come out at night. In the darkness, they may appear like snakes that may scare any normal individual.

How do they communicate?

There is not much data about these animals from the family Ptilichthyidae and their activities during the daytime but they interact and communicate with their partners via a courtship display during mating.

How big is a quillfish?

A mature quillfish is a lot smaller in length than an average mature water snake. A mature quillfish may measure around 13.3 in (33.7 cm) in length.

How fast can a quillfish move?

Observations suggest that these creatures move very fast, thanks to their body length. But there is no proper count of their speed since the are very difficult to spot during the day.

How much does a quillfish weigh?

A quillfish (Ptilichthys goodei) has an elongated body that is very slender but has an impressive length. They are lightweight organisms and may weigh around 2.2 lb (1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate or unique names for male and female quillfish and both are referred to by the same names. A male quillfish may be slightly bigger in size and have a more elongated tail than a female quillfish.

What would you call a baby quillfish?

A baby quillfish just like any other baby fish is referred to as fry. These baby quillfish mostly fend on their own after birth.

What do they eat?

A quillfish is nocturnal and are seen emerging out of their burrow holes at dusk for feeding. These species feed on small size crustaceans, tadpoles, and sea worms. They may also feed on eggs of other fishes and small aquatic animals.

Are they poisonous?

These are not poisonous. Even though there is not much proof of the toxicity of their flesh, they are found in the stomach of larger predators such as Coho salmon and Chinook salmon fish.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they live their lives at night which means they are photosensitive. Keeping them as pets means exposing them to light.

Did you know...

There is a Pokémon cartoon which is named after this quillfish. It is a really famous Japanese cartoon. But a Pokémon quillfish doesn't resemble an actual quillfish at all.

Are they dangerous?

They are not really dangerous but they may attack in defense if they are harmed.

Do they bite?

Not every time but they may bite when they are harmed.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these swai fish facts and skate fish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable quillfish coloring pages.

*Please note that the main image is of an eel fish, not a quillfish. If you have an image of a quillfish, please let us know at



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