Slimy Sculpin
  • 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.
  • The two dorsal fins are connected; there are no scales; caudal peduncle length-post-orbital distance ratio is >1.
  • Close-up inside of mouth: Notice the absence of palatine teeth.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Notice that the pelvic fins are not fused; there are 3 rays, the spine is fused with the first ray to form one element.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Notice that the pelvic fins are not fused; there are 3 rays, the spine is fused with the first ray to form one element.
  • Close-up underside of head: The gill membranes are broadly joined, forming a shallow angle. There are two midline chin pores (not visible).
  • Top view of head: Notice the preopercular spine and the dorso-ventrally flattened profile.
  • Breeder are similar to nonbreeders; but males often become very dark, with an orange margin of the 1st dorsal fin as shown here.
  • Alternate side view.
  • Alternate view of 2nd dorsal fin, shown erect.
  • Alternate top view.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Sculpins (Cottidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Terminal and very wide, with bands of fine teeth in bands on upper and lower jaws. No barbels. Snout rounded to blunt and dorsal-ventrally flattened. Body patterning, color, and scales: Mottled with irregular blotches, dark brown or black on a brown background with a cream or whitish belly. No scales, but a few fine prickles anteriorly just below the lateral line. Fins with brownish speckles, spots, and/or blotches. Body shape and size: Body dorsal-ventrally flattened, especially anteriorly. Typically 35-90 mm (1.5-3.5 in) TL; maximum about 111 mm (4.5 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Rounded or square tail. Two dorsal fins, slightly connected, the anterior with 6-10 flexible spines and the posterior with 14-19 rays. Pelvic fins thoracic, each with 1 spine and 3 rays. No adipose fin. Anal fin with 10-14 rays and no spines.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The slimy sculpin can be distinguished by its pair of free and independent pelvic fins and its lack of scales. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Male may become very dark, with an orange edge to the first dorsal fin.
Juveniles
Similar to adults.
Hybrids
Mottled sculpin X slimy sculpin reported from Wisconsin but unconfirmed; known from elsewhere (no photos).
Compare Similar Species
Pelvic Rays
Sculpin, Deepwater3
Sculpin, Mottled4
Sculpin, Slimy3
Sculpin, Spoonhead4
Prickles
Sculpin, DeepwaterFew, just above lateral line
Sculpin, MottledFew, below lateral line
Sculpin, SlimyFew, below lateral line
Sculpin, SpoonheadMany, on head and back
Lateral Line
Sculpin, DeepwaterComplete, or nearly so
Sculpin, MottledEnds below 2nd dorsal fin
Sculpin, SlimyEnds below 2nd dorsal fin
Sculpin, SpoonheadComplete
Dorsal Fins
Sculpin, Deepwater1st and 2nd clearly separate
Sculpin, Mottled1st and 2nd touching
Sculpin, Slimy1st and 2nd touching
Sculpin, Spoonhead1st and 2nd touching
Gill Membranes
Sculpin, DeepwaterNarrowly joined, meet at acute angle
Sculpin, MottledBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Sculpin, SlimyBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Sculpin, SpoonheadBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Exposed (not covered with skin) Preopercular Spines
Sculpin, Deepwater2-4; largest ≥1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Mottled1; ~1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Slimy1; ~1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Spoonhead1; >2/3 of eye diameter in length
Midline Chin Pores
Sculpin, Deepwater1-2?
Sculpin, Mottled2
Sculpin, Slimy2
Sculpin, Spoonhead1
Palatine Teeth
Sculpin, DeepwaterPresent
Sculpin, MottledUsually present
Sculpin, SlimyUsually present
Sculpin, SpoonheadAbsent
Ratio of Caudal Peduncle Length to Post-Orbital Distance
Sculpin, Deepwater≤1
Sculpin, Mottled≤1
Sculpin, Slimy≥1
Sculpin, Spoonhead≤1
Similarity Index
Sculpin, DeepwaterVery similar
Sculpin, MottledVery similar
Sculpin, SlimyN/A
Sculpin, SpoonheadVery similar
Comments
Sculpin, SlimyModerately similar to round goby and tubenose goby, but distinguishable by its pair of free and independent pelvic fins and its lack of scales. In the gobies, the two pelvic fins are fused to form a disk and scales are present.
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