The first threadfin dragonfish to be described was caught near the Portuguese island Madeira. It is now known to occur throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
Dragonfishes in general feed upon smaller fishes such as bristlemouths and lanternfish, and will migrate vertically upwards at night for hundreds of metres in pursuit of their prey.
Echiostoma barbatum has been recorded from depths as great as 1,900m, but has also been collected from very near the surface.
Echiostoma barbatum is not currently regarded as endangered.