Cottus poecilopus (Heckel)
- Family: Sculpins – Cottidae
- Similar species: bullhead, fourhorn sculpin
- Size: 5–8 cm, max. 12 cm.
- Appearance: Like other members of the family, the Alpine bullhead has a broad head with eyes almost on top, and large rounded pectoral fins resembling wings when at rest on the bottom. Closely resembles the common bullhead and can be confused with the freshwater form of the fourhorn sculpin. Innermost ray of pelvic fin shorter than outermost ray in the Alpine bullhead, but of same length in the common bullhead. Caudal peduncle (distance between rear edge of anal fin and base of caudal fin) shorter than anal fin in both Alpine bullhead and common bullhead. In the lake form of the fourhorn sculpin these are of the same length. Spiky end of operculum curves upwards in both Alpine and common bullheads, but is straight in the fourhorn sculpin.
- Colouring: Back light brown with uneven darker markings. Spots on pelvic fins appearing as transverse bands, absent from common bullhead.
- Reproduction: Eggs deposited in spring on underside of stones in nests prepared by the male, several females attending the same site. After fertilisation the mail guards the eggs until they hatch
(c. 4 weeks).
- Food: Insect larvae and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates.
- Distribution and habitat: In Finland mainly a freshwater species. Presence in sea restricted to non-saline water of northernmost Gulf of Bothnia. The Alpine bullhead is a fish of the north and east: occurs in Lapland, with the exception of Inari and Utsjoki, and throughout the large lakes of SE Finland. In the south there are isolated populations in Fiskars (lake Simijärvi) and Hyvinkää (lake Hirvijärvi). Found on stony bottoms in cool, shallow, well oxygenated water, especially flowing water, though also occurs along lake shores. Where common bullheads are present, Alpine bullheads tend to occupy deeper water and lie further upstream in rivers. Lies hidden among stones and makes short trips to find food as light fades.
Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
National fishing travel site of Finland: www.fishinginfinland.fi
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