• Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Top view of head: The head is dorsal-ventrally flattened.
  • Close-up inside of mouth: The mouth is wide, and there are patches of fine teeth on the upper jaw.
  • Close-up caudal region: The 2nd dorsal fin and the anal fin are elongated and close to but not connected with the tail.
  • Close-up underside of head: There is a single barbel on the middle of the chin.
  • The burbot has an elongated, eel-like body, especially posteriorly.
  • There are two dorsal fins, both without spines.
  • The pelvic fins lack spines, and the second ray is elongated.
  • Close-up flank: The flank shows numerous fine scales on a mottled body pattern.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Side view of a yearling: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Top view of a yearling: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Alternate side view of an adult.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Burbot (Lotidae)
Mouth and snout: Terminal and wide and horizontal, with bands of fine teeth on upper and lower jaws. Single BARBEL on chin. Snout dorsal-ventrally flattened. Body patterning, color, and scales: Solid brown, yellow, or black or darkly mottled with irregular blotches; cream or yellow on belly. Numerous scales, very fine and very difficult to see except in large specimens; most specimens appear and feel scaleless. Dorsal, tail, and anal fins with brownish speckles, spots, and/or blotches. Body shape and size: Body elongated and cylindrical and eel-like posteriorly but head area dorsal-ventrally flattened. Typically 200-400 mm (8-16 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 800 mm (32 in).
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Rounded tail. Two dorsal fins, with no spines, not connected, the anterior with 8-16 rays and the posterior with 61-81 rays, extending almost to tail. Pelvic fins jugular with 5-8 rays, the second elongated and conspicuously longer than the others. No adipose fin. Anal fin with 52-76 rays and no spines, extending almost to tail.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The burbot can be distinguished by the presence of pelvic fins and a small barbel on the chin, by the long (more than 1/3 of total length) dorsal and anal fins, and the absence of spines in the dorsal and pectoral fins. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to adults.
Similar to adults.
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Pelvic Fins
Catfish, BluePresent
Catfish, ChannelPresent
Catfish, FlatheadPresent
Eel, AmericanAbsent
Dorsal and Anal Fins
BurbotLong (more than 1/3 of total length), no spines
Catfish, BlueRather short with spines
Catfish, ChannelRather short with spines
Catfish, FlatheadRather short with spines
Eel, AmericanVery short, no spines
BurbotOne small barbel on chin
Catfish, BlueFour large barbels on chin and snout respectively
Catfish, ChannelFour large barbels on chin and snout respectively
Catfish, FlatheadFour large barbels on chin and snout respectively
Eel, AmericanAbsent
Similarity Index
Catfish, BlueModerately similar
Catfish, ChannelModerately similar
Catfish, FlatheadModerately similar
Eel, AmericanModerately similar