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Overview

Brief Summary

The eelpout is an inhabitant of the cooler, northern European coastal waters. It is found down to 40 meters deep and can survive well in brackish water. It was a common species in the Wadden Sea up till 1990, but has since become a rarity. This benthic fish eats mostly small crustaceans (gammarids, copepods, shrimp and larvae from larger crustaceans) and young molluscs.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Inhabits rocky shores under stones, among algae and in tide pools, between tide marks down to 40 m. May remain out of water under rocks or seaweeds (Ref. 31184). Feeds on gastropods, chironomids, crustaceans, eggs and fry of fishes. Gives birth to live young (Ref. 9900). Bones colored green by the harmless pigment Vivianit (Ref. 4645). Breathes air when out of water (Ref. 31184). Mating takes place in August - September with internal fertilization of the eggs. Female give birth to 30-400 developed young (35-55mm) (Ref. 35388).
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Distribution

White Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Eastern North Atlantic.
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Northeast Atlantic: White Sea, Cheshskaya Guba and Murmansk coast (Barents Sea) southward to English Channel (River Somme); eastern coasts of Scotland, England, also Irish Sea; the Orkneys, Shetlands and in shallow waters of North Sea and Baltic.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 520 mm ---
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Max. size

52.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4695)); max. published weight: 510 g (Ref. 6397); max. reported age: 10 years (Ref. 35388)
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Diagnostic Description

Bones are green due to harmless pigment. Skin slimy and variable color (Ref. 35388).
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

demersal; brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 40 m (Ref. 31184), usually 2 - 20 m (Ref. 35388)
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Depth range based on 11520 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1071 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 161
  Temperature range (°C): 3.141 - 10.295
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.139 - 12.040
  Salinity (PPS): 5.775 - 35.207
  Oxygen (ml/l): 0.982 - 8.768
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.119 - 2.380
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.052 - 51.283

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 161

Temperature range (°C): 3.141 - 10.295

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.139 - 12.040

Salinity (PPS): 5.775 - 35.207

Oxygen (ml/l): 0.982 - 8.768

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.119 - 2.380

Silicate (umol/l): 2.052 - 51.283
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Associations

Known predators

Zoarces viviparus (Zoarces viviparus viviparous blenny) is prey of:
Lutra lutra
Phalacrocorax carbo
Ardea cinerea
Sterna sandvicensis
Cryptocotyle lingua
Podocotyle staffordi
Hysterothylacium aduncum
Cucullanus heterochrous

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Known prey organisms

Zoarces viviparus (Zoarces viviparus viviparous blenny) preys on:
Crangon crangon
Nereis diversicolor
Ostracoda
Copepoda
Corophium volutator
Gammarus
Jaera albifrons
Pygospio elegans
Capitella capitata
Hydrobia ulvae
Mytilus edulis
Foraminifera

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Diseases and Parasites

Hysterothylacium Infection (Hysterothylacium sp.). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Fertilization occurs in August-September. Egg development lasts for one month. Total bearing time is five months (Ref. 6397).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Zoarces viviparus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: public aquariums; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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Wikipedia

Viviparous eelpout

The viviparous eelpout (Zoarces viviparus), also known as the, viviparous blenny and European eelpout is an eelpout in the family Zoarcidae. It is notable for giving birth to live larvae (hence the description "mother of eels"). It is a common soup ingredient in Mediterranean countries. The bones are of greenish colour, due to a harmless pigment. Their skin is slimy and the color is variable.

Viviparous eelpouts grow to a maximum length of 52 centimetres (20 in) and a maximum weight of 510 grams (18 oz). They typically live at water depths up to 40 metres (130 ft). The fish live to a maximum age of 10 years.

Description[edit]

The viviparous eelpout has a slim, tapering body and resembles a small burbot (Lota lota), a wide head and mouth and protuberant lips. It has long, ribbon-like dorsal and anal fins which continue on to unite with the arrowhead-shaped caudal fin. This distinguishes this fish from the two similar slim-bodied bottom-dwelling fish of the area, the rock gunnel (Pholis gunnellus) and the snake blenny (Ophidion barbatum). The average size of this fish is about 20 to 30 cm (7.9 to 11.8 in). It is a brownish color with irregular dark brown markings and a yellowish belly. The pectoral, anal and caudal fins are tinged with orange which becomes a more intense hue during the breeding season. The bones are green.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

These eelpouts live in a temperate climate in the marine waters of the Northeast Atlantic including the seas such as the Baltic, Barents, Irish, North, and White Seas. They also live in some brackish inlets, such where the River Somme meets the English Channel. The fish stay towards the rocky shorelines and tidepools among the stones and algae. The fish are capable of living out of water under rocks and seaweed due to their ability to breathe air directly. The fish eat eggs and fry of fish and macroinvertebrates such as gastropods and crustaceans.

The drawing of the eelpout with fries

Biology[edit]

The viviparous eelpout feeds on bottom-dwelling invertebrates, such as crustaceans, and fish eggs and fry.[1]

Adults mate during the months of August and September using internal fertilization. The fish are notably viviparous, giving birth to 30–400 live developed young. Unusually, it does so during winter when water temperatures are extremely cold. Among fish it has one of the longest known pregnancies, lasting approximately six months. It has been discovered that the eelpout suckles its young embryos while still within their mother's body, making it the only fish species to suckle its offspring. The embryos actually suckle from ovarian follicles, ingesting nutrients and gases from these internal structures. After depleting the egg's yolk reserves, the eelpouts attach their mouths to an ovarian follicle, which has a canal in its tip via which fluid and nutrients can flow. This follicle fluid is rich in proteins, fatty acids and glucose. It is also saturated in oxygen, which helps ventilate the gills of the developing fish. Each embryo latches onto a single follicle. This ensures an equal distribution of nutrients.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Viviperous blenny: Zoarces viviparus (L.)". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  2. ^ Matt Walker (September 28, 2010). "Pregnant European eelpout fish suckles young embryos". BBC News. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
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