10 20 40 60 cm
mittakaava < 40 cm
Gösta Sundman: Suomen Kalat (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Petri Savola (Uudenmaan ympäristökeskus), Maija Seppänen. All rights reserved.
- Family: Sculpins – Cottidae
- Similar species: fourhorn sculpin, longspined bullhead
- Size: 20–30 cm, can weigh up to 1 kg.
- Appearance: Spiny, with a large mouth and broad pectoral fins, the short-horn sculpin is a formidable-looking fish. The head is equipped with backward-pointing spines, which are not as big or rounded as those of the fourhorn sculpin. Two short spines on each gill cover. Under the head, a flap of skin protects the gills. These two features distinguish the short-horn sculpin from the longspined bullhead.
- Colouring: Not the most attractive of fishes, but the male can sport splendid colours, especially at spawning time. The head and back are dark with indistinct markings, the fins striped. The belly of the female is orange with clearly defined whitish spots. The belly of the male is more red and, during the breeding season, becomes quite brilliantly coloured, making the white spots more prominent.
- Reproduction: Spawning takes place in winter between December and February. The eggs are deposited in a suitable stony depression and, after fertilisation, the male stands guard, fanning the eggs, for the 2-month incubation period.
- Food: Bottom-living crustaceans, notably isopods, and small fish.
- Distribution and habitat: Common throughout the seas around Finland apart from the northernmost Gulf of Bothnia and the easternmost Gulf of Finland, where it is less frequent. Inhabits the sea bed at depths of 4-60 m. In summer the short-horn sculpin avoids warm, shallow water, though not quite to the same extent as the more Arctic fourhorn sculpin.
Short-horn sculpins sometimes produce a curious croaking sound when lifted from the water. The numerous spines are best avoided as they are thought to contain toxin. Cases of poisoning have been reported from specimens caught in deeper oceans, but not in Finnish waters.