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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Deepwater Sculpin: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Deepwater Sculpin Fact File

Deepwater sculpins (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) are medium-sized fish from the family Cottidae. They have long, tapered bodies, two separate dorsal fins where the first has up to 10 spines and the second dorsal fin has 11-16 fin rays. They also have a blunt snout and head that is flat. They can be found mainly in deep, cool water lakes of North America. They are bottom-dwelling fish, and their presence can be highly seen in a lake. Sculpin deepwater is a native species of the Great lake, including Lake Ontario. These fish are non-migratory in nature, and their conservation status has been listed as Least Concern as their population is stable. They are the number one prey item for lake trout, which were once widely available and commercially harvested in all the Great lakes. They have been designated as a species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) usually spawn in Lake Michigan during winter, and in Canada, during fall and summer. In Lake Huron, scientists discovered that after the ice breakup, hatching occurs. They can swim and stay at different depths of water, depending on the region they are residing in. In Lake Superior, they have been discovered or found surviving at depths of 1335 ft (407 m), which is among the highest depths. According to the Journal of Great Lakes Research, it has been examined that the density of the deepwater sculpin generally increases with depth. Their population has also been declining in certain regions, and the disappearance of the deepwater sculpin from Lake Ontario has been noticed for 50 years. It is unknown as to if people eat them or not.

To know more interesting facts about other fish species, you can also check out these neon goby and round goby.

Deepwater Sculpin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a deepwater sculpin?

The deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) are freshwater fish found only in the lakes of Canada and America. You can get more information with the help of a field guide to freshwater fishes of North America if you wish to know more about their survival and care in the freshwater.

What class of animal does a deepwater sculpin belong to?

The deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) belongs to the class Actinopterygii in phylum Chordata, surprisingly the same phylum as the great white shark.

How many green deepwater sculpins are there in the world?

The total population size of deepwater sculpins across the world is unknown.

Where does a deepwater sculpin live?

The deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) lives in the cold water lakes of North America. Once, it was abundantly present in the Great Lakes of Canada, particularly in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and Northwest Territories. However, the range of these fish is shrinking significantly. They can also be found in Lake Superior. Presently, the fish is plentiful in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Occasionally, it is found in inland waterways that join the  Great Lakes, such as the St. Clair River.

What is a deepwater sculpin's habitat?

The deepwater sculpin habitat can usually be found near the surface of deep lakes that have cold and well-oxygenated waters. In the Great Lakes, adult deepwater sculpins may thrive between 196.8-492.1 ft (60-150 m) in depth. Due to this reason, there is not much information available regarding the biology of this fish. In Lake Superior, the deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) has been found at a depth of about 1335.3 ft (407 m). It spends most of its life in the darkness where the temperature is very low at which the substratum consists of a particular thin matter, clays, and mud of equal size. When the fish present abundantly, they are also found on other substrates that are a mixture of clay, sand, rocks, coal, cinders, slit, and mud. In 1952, some researchers found deepwater sculpin on dense beds of aquatic vegetation in Lake Michigan. In the first year of its life, the fish usually feed on plankton and small invertebrates. As they grow, the shape of the body changes, and it becomes a bottom-dwelling fish.

Who does green deepwater sculpin live with?

Whether the deepwater sculpin lives alone or in a group is unknown.

How long does a deepwater sculpin live?

The age of deepwater sculpin fish is determined by the number of rings present on the ear bones. Just like tree rings represent their age, the rings in fish represent years of growth. According to a study in 1973, in the Great Lake, the deepwater sculpin may live a life up to seven years.

How do they reproduce?

There is only a little information or data available about the reproduction in deepwater sculpins (Myoxocephalus thompsonii). In the ontogenetic developmental stage, the first 12 months of their life spend in metamorphosis from larvae to benthic organisms, and finally as adults. In this period, the escalation in size is greatest. However, during the next 24 months, the size enlargement is generally three-fifths that of the first year. In consecutive years, the elevation in length is not more than two-fifths as compared to the first 12 months. Alternatively, weight gain is inversely proportional to the increase in length. Sculpin species gain the least weight in the first 12 months, despite the prominent gain in length. In the next years of their life, the weight increases as the elongation slow. The oldest one is the largest one. Also, the fish in the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario, are usually bigger compared to other populations. In this species, sexual maturity attains during the second half of the second year. At this stage, there is the development of gonads. Most of the sculpins become mature by the end of the second year, whereas others become entirely mature at the end of the third year. The spawning season occurs at the end of the fall and winter in the Great Lakes. However, it occurs in the summer in Canada. The clutch size in this species is about 481. The size of females matters a lot as the biggest ones lay the greatest number of eggs. Hatching occurs while the ice on the lakes melts.

What is their conservation status?

Between 1942 and 1972, no deepwater sculpin was seized in Lake Ontario. However, from 1972 to 2002, only six fish have been captured in the Canadian lakes. However, with their stable decline from Lake Ontario and other Great Lakes, the USFWS (the United States Fish and Wildlife Service) does not even bother to list this fish as a species of greatest concern in the area of the Great Lakes. However, they are listed as threatened species by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Therefore, in Canada, the deepwater sculpin endangered fish can be found in the Canadian Wildlife Journal of Zoology. There is still research going on by the Journal of Great Lakes research to estimate the number of fish left in the Great Lakes and various other deepwater Canadian lakes. The decrease in the population may be due to the introduction of two invasive species in the Great lakes: rainbow smelt and alewives. Both of them are fierce fighters that eat the eggs of Myoxocephalus fishes and also compete with them for food. Another main threat to the survival of the native species is the deprivation of the amphipod Pontoperia from Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes. It is one of the main food sources of fish. Additionally, the escalation of nutrients in the lake resulted in low oxygen levels in the lower part of the lake, which eventually dropped the survival rate of fish in Quebec's Heney Lake and Lac des Îles. This enrichment of nutrients is caused due to various urban, industrial, and agricultural developments by humans. The Salvelinus namaycush (deepwater Lake trout) and burbot are the common predators of Myoxocephalus thompsonii.

Deepwater Sculpin Fun Facts

What do deepwater sculpins look like?

The length of Lake Ontario deepwater sculpin is 9 in (23 cm), but the New York variety ranges from 2-5 in (5-10 cm). It has a slender body with a big flattened head and a blunt snout. The eyes lie close together on the top of the head. It has pectoral fins, which are shaped like fans with a square tail fin. Four preopercular spines and fin rays are present on the body. It has long fin rays, and this fish has two dorsal fins. Although, the first one is smaller than the second fin. The second dorsal fin overlays the caudal fin base in males. It is one one the distinct features of the species. Myoxocephalus thompsonii has a scaleless body with prickles on it. The color of the dorsal fins is generally gray-brown, whereas the ventral side has a lighter shade. On the back, there are fine oval-shaped spots. The mature individuals show sexual dimorphism. The biggest fish is more sexually dimorphic than the smaller one. The largest one has more prominent pelvic, pectoral, anal, first dorsal, second dorsal, and caudal fins.

This fish has a gray-brown body coloration with a lighter belly.

How cute are they?

These fish species are not cute at all. In fact, the creatures look ugly because of their eyes and not so colorful body color.

How do they communicate?

They live in dark environments, and therefore, there is not much information published about communication in this species. But they probably use tactile and chemical perception to communicate with each other, just like other fish species.

How big is a deepwater sculpin?

The deepwater sculpin size is 4-9 in (10-23 cm), which is 15 times smaller than a koi fish. Ninety-five deepwater sculpin sampled from Burchell Lake Ontario by Thompsonii Girard were up to 3.6 in (9.2 cm) long.

How fast can a deepwater sculpin swim?

The swimming speed of deepwater sculpins is unknown. They can usually swim in water depths of up to 295 ft (90 m), but in Lake Superior, they have been discovered or found surviving at depths of 1335 ft (407 m).

How much does a deepwater sculpin weigh?

The weight of deepwater sculpin can reach up to 0.8 oz (25 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific male and female names of deepwater sculpin species.

What would you call a baby deepwater sculpin?

The deepwater baby sculpin is generally known as a young.

What do they eat?

Deepwater sculpins mainly feed on zooplankton and crustaceans. Sometimes they eat leeches, sphaeriidae clams, shrimp, opossum shrimp, and fish eggs. Their favorite food is the amphipod Pontoporeia hoyi. The larger proportion of adults' diet is composed of P. hoyi as compared to the juvenile diet, which eats equally on P. hoyi and M. relicta. They normally survive on Manson bugs that are frequently present in the deep lakes. Lake trout and burbots are predators of the sculpin.

Are they poisonous?

No, deepwater sculpin fish are non-poisonous aquatic animals.

Would they make a good pet?

People generally do not like to keep deepwater sculpins as pets because of their not-so-good-looking appearance.

Did you know...

Sculpin deepwater is almost exclusively found in Canada.

Are green deepwater sculpin reefs safe?

Yes, the green deepwater sculpin reefs are safe if given proper care and protection in the case of those commercially raised.

Naming the deepwater sculpin

The sculpin deepwater got its name deepwater from the fact that it usually lives and swims in great water depths.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our lambchop rasbora facts and lionfish facts pages.

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

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