Cottus aleuticus

Identification Tips:

Large head relative to body size
Very large pectoral fins with dark bars.
•Highly variable:Mottled dark brown, reddish, greenish, grayish or black on back and sides; whitish belly
•Two or three dark saddle-like blotches below rear part of dorsal fin;
•Two dorsal fins separated (barely). In Prickly sculpin they are (barely) joined.
•Front dorsal fin has 8-10 rays; Rear dorsal fin 17-20 rays.
•Anal fin: 12-15 rays
•Orange edge on front dorsal fin of spawning males.

Conservation Status:

British ColumbiaCanadaNatureserve
COSEWICSpecies at Risk Act
Not at Risk (Yellow List)Not AssessedNoneG5, S5

Information Source: BC Conservation Data Centre:

Life History:

•Feed primarily at night on aquatic insects and other invertebrate.
•Preyed upon by some salmonids.
•Migrate downstream to spawn just above estuaries or lakes.
•Mature in 2nd or 3rd year and may live for years.
•Adults may 15 cm, but are usually less than 10 cm long.


•Inhabits gravel and rubble riffles of medium to large rivers and rocky shores of lakes.
•Occasionally enter estuaries.
•Spawn in lower reaches of streams and in estuaries. Eggs are deposited on the underside of rocks in swift current.
•Coastal larvae over-winter in brackish water before moving upstream.
•Larvae of populations associated with lakes are swept down into the lakes and live there for an unknown length of time before migrating back into streams.


British Columbia
•Most coastal drainages including those of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii
•Isolated populations in Seton and Bridge Rivers

•Coastal rivers and streams from Alaska to northern California


•The endangered Cultus Pygmy Sculpin is derived from the Coast Range Sculpin, with adults maturing while in larval form and remaining in the lake rather than migrating into streams as they mature.

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