Weird fish of the week: Lumpsucker

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Let's face it, a fish with a common name like "Lumpsucker", and a scientific one of Cyclopterus lumpus, was never likely to be a looker or a streamlined cruiser of the world's oceans, but nevertheless this odd looking UK native is a fascinating fish.

Scorpaeniformes from the family Cyclopteridae, they get their common and scientific names from their ability to stick to more or less whatever they're resting on with their specially modified pelvic fins (Cyclopteridae derives from kyklos, meaning 'circle' and 'pteryx' meaning 'fin' in Greek). Their modified fins allow these poor swimmers that have no swimbladder to anchor themselves in place.

Their chunky, rounded body is covered in spiny tubercles which act as both protection and camouflage.

They can also inflate themselves with water or air in a way similar to the puffer fishes as a further defensive measure.

Their other common name of 'hen fish' relates to the male's good parenting skills. After the female has laid eggs he will stick around (literally!) next to them, guarding them against predators until they hatch after around six weeks, all this time without eating.

They are themselves fished commercially for their roe which is a popular food especially in Scandinavia and is also sold elsewhere as a more affordable alternative to caviar.

Growing to around 50cm/20in maximum, the females are usually a drab grey colour, while the males are a brownish red, but colour up to a more vibrant orange while breeding.

Why not check out the other Weird fish of the week features?

Two-headed arowana

Stargazers