The largest of several families of northern blenny-like fishes (suborder Zoarcoidei). About 40 species of eelpout inhabit Arctic seas; 25 have a primarily arctic distribution while the rest are subarctic–temperate species. Two genera account for most arctic eelpouts: Gymnelus and Lycodes.
Elongate and eel-like, with one dorsal fin extending nearly the whole length of the body and composed of soft rays, no spines. Dorsal and anal fins confluent with caudal fin. Pelvic fins small and jugular (positioned far forward, ahead of the pectoral fins) in most eelpouts, absent in Gymnelus.
Cartilaginous keels on the lower jaw (so-called “chin crests”) in Lycodes are used to plow the bottom and stir up prey. Eggs and larvae are produced on the bottom and rarely found in the plankton. Adults of some species have been observed lying coiled around the developing eggs. Many species excavate and occupy burrows in sand and mud. Eelpouts eat crustaceans, worms, clams, brittle stars, and fishes.
Page Author: Kitty & Tony Mecklenburg
Updated: March 18, 2009