• Family: Cottidae (Sculpins)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: Species of concern
• Adult Size: Typically 2-3 inches, can reach 5 inches.
• Typical Foods: Crustaceans, small fish, and various aquatic invertebrates.
The spoonhead sculpin and other sculpin species have no scales. Their eyes are positioned on top of a rather large and flattened head. Spoonhead sculpins also have a relatively large mouth. The second dorsal fin and anal fin are rather long and they have large fan like pectoral fins. Spoonhead sculpins have a complete lateral line. They also have a spine on the side of their head in front of the gill openings that has a curved hook on the end of it. They have some darker blotches on their body that sometimes form darker bars but are generally light brown in color. Breeding males usually have a bright orange or yellow band on the outer edge of their small rounded first dorsal fin. Spoonhead sculpins differ from the much more common and closely related mottled sculpin by having a complete lateral line and a longer hooked spine on the sides of the head.
Habitat and Habits
Spoonhead sculpins inhabit deep waters of lakes throughout much of Canada. They are rarely found in waters shallower than 40 feet deep and can be found at depths of several hundred feet. Lake Erie is the southern most location that they have ever been found. It is unlikely that there was ever a large population in Lake Erie. A total of three individuals were captured between 1928 and 1950 in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. Several were also found during the same time period at depths of over 100ft on the eastern end of Lake Erie in New York waters.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Spoonhead suclpins spawn in late summer or fall in deep waters. Males clear a small cave under a rock and spawn with several females on the roof of the cave. The eggs are then guarded by the male until shortly after hatching. The young spoonhead sculpins are covered in prickles making them difficult for larger fish to eat.