Fish Species

Reticulate Sculpin

  • Scientific Name
    Cottus perplexus
  • Native
  • Identification
    • Maximum size 110 mm SL, resembles Riffle Sculpin and Marbled Sculpin
    • Dorsal fins broadly joined, narrow mouth
    • Preopercular spines: (1-4), usually (2) visible
    • Prickling variable, axillary patch present
    • Coloration: body covered with wavy lines and patches of dark pigment, checkerboard pattern on pectoral fins, dark blotch on back of 1st dorsal fin
    • Fin rays/spines: 1st dorsal 7-8 spines, 2nd dorsal 18-20 rays, pectoral 13-16 rays, anal 13-16 rays
  • Life History

    Reticulate Sculpins are abundant in the slow moving reaches of coastal headwater streams. In California their distribution is limited to several streams that are part of an Oregon-bound watersheds. Favorable habitat for Reticulate Sculpin includes riffles in small streams with water temperatures that do not exceed 20°C. Though these fish prefer rubble or gravel substrate, they will keep to stream margins and silty pools in the presence of other sculpin species. Reticulate Sculpins have a tolerance for high temperatures and moderate salinities, leaving them as the sole sculpin species in streams with such conditions. They are capable of living in water conditions that include temperatures of 30°C and salinities of 18 ppt. The diet of Reticulate Sculpins is made up of mostly aquatic invertebrates such as mayflies, stoneflies, beetles, caddisflies, and chironomid midges. They reach sexual maturity early in life but fail to reach large sizes. On average a 4 year old fish might only measure 64 mm SL. Reticulate Sculpin spawn in March through May when water temperatures have reached a suitable range of 6-7°C. Male sculpins create nests in gravel or cobble substrate where several females may deposit 35-315 eggs each. Nests are created in swiftwater reaches where other species of sculpins are absent and in slow flowing water when competitors are present. Male sculpins guard the nests and the larval fish until the fry are capable of surviving alone. Young sculpin spend the early part of their life swimming along the bottom in slow water.


  • Links to Other Research
    N / A