SPECIES ID / Freshwater Fish of the Fraser Valley

Lamprey Family (Petromyzontidae)

  • Among the most ancient types of fish.
  • Have no lower jaw and no bones; skeleton is made of cartilage
  • Breed in freshwater
  • Spend 3 to 7 years as filter feeding larva (ammocoetes) in sand, silt or mud bottoms before transforming into adults and emerging into the stream.
  • Some species spawn and die immediately after transformation
  • Other species are parasitic; they attach to other fish and feed on body fluids
  • Parasitic species live for one or more years as adults, usually in the Ocean,  before returning to freshwater to spawn and die.

Identification tips

  • Long eel-like form
  • No lower jaw; mouth is a round or oval opening
  • Ammocoetes (larvae) have no eyes
  • Adults have eyes, teeth visible in mouth, a single nostril on top of the head and 7 gill openings.

Primary Information Source:
McPhail, J.D. 2007. The Freshwater Fishes of British Columbia. University of Alberta Press. Edmonton, Alberta.