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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

Sculpin family - cottidae,   pp. 963-981 ff. PDF (8.9 MB)

Page 963

Sculpin Family- 
  Four species of sculpins in two genera are known from Wisconsin. In 
the United States and Canada, 111 named species occur, three-fourths of 
which refer to the Pacific Ocean, including the western Arctic. In addi-
tion to the named species, some 30 little-known cottids have been re- 
corded in the North American waters of Alaska alone (Robins et al. 1980).
Although primarily marine fishes of arctic and temperate seas, one genus
in particular, Cottus, is widely distributed in the fresh waters of the 
northern hemisphere. Twenty-one strictly freshwater species have evolved
in North American waters, and, within that genus, several species are 
confined to only a spring or two. The family contains at least 300 spe- 
cies. The cottids are known from the Oligocene to Recent. They are among
the most advanced of fishes. 
  Sculpins are characterized by enlarged, flattened heads and by expan- 
sive pectoral fins. The body tapers from the broad head to a relatively 
narrow caudal peduncle. The preopercle is variously armed with spines. 
The eyes are dorsal in position and occasionally are close set. The first
dorsal fin is spiny, but the spines are soft. The pelvic fins possess a single
spine which is bound by a membrane to the first pelvic ray, creating a 
single element. Scales are lacking, or are represented by dermal prickles.
  Although freshwater sculpins are small fishes of 18 cm or less, some 
marine species may attain lengths of 61 cm or more. In Wisconsin, the 
sculpins are typical inhabitants of rocky, cool headwater streams; here 
they retreat under stones during daylight hours. 
  Sculpins are primarily carnivorous, feeding largely on microcrusta- 
ceans and aquatic insects. In trout streams they have long been accused 

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