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Overview

Brief Summary

Armed bullheads are common in the coastal and tidal waters of the southern North Sea. The larvae and young animals live as plankton; older armed bullheads migrate to the coastal waters to search the sea floor for small crabs, gammarids, shrimps, worms, molluscs and fish eggs. These strangely shaped fish grow no longer than 20 centimeters. Dried armed bullheads can sometimes be found as decoration in fish nets in 1970-interiors, in display windows, fish stores, etc.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Inhabits inshore waters, deeper waters in winter in Skaggerak, preferring sandy bottoms, rarely with stones. Maximum depth reported at 270 m (Ref. 28197). Temp. range: 4.0-8.0 °C. Feeds on bottom crustaceans and polychaetes. Matures after about 1 year; a few spawning in the second year (Ref. 722). The eggs are laid in seaweed (Ref. 9900). Spawns in February - April, female laying 2,500-3,000 yellow eggs with a diameter of 2 mm. Period of development is very long and 6-8 mm long pelagic larvae hatch after 10-11 months (Ref. 35388).
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Description

 Agonus cataphractus has a wide, flattened, triangular head (around 3.5 times the body length) with an elongated, tapering body. Instead of scales this fish is completely covered in hard bony plates, that form lateral rows of sharp spines. This fish typically grows to 10-15 cm but has been recorded at a length of 21 cm. The upper parts of the body are greyish-brown in colour with 4-5 darker saddles across the back, and the lower parts are lighter sometimes with grey spots. The fins are yellow with dark stripes and spots, and the underside of the fish is a creamy white colour. There are two pectoral fins located close together; the first with 5-6 spines and the second with 6-8 soft fin rays, and an anal fin, which is short with 6-7 fin rays. The snout has a pair of strong, sharp spines, and a very sharp spine on each gill cover. The underside of the head has many small barbels extending from the tip of the snout to the edge of the gill covers. The mouth is located beneath the head.The pectoral fins can have an orange tint in the breeding season. This species is also commonly known as the 'hook-nose' or 'armed bullhead'.
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Description

The pogge is a very distinctive and easily recognised fish. Instead of being covered in scales the body is covered in hard, bony plates and is only flexible to a limited degree. There is a strong spine on each gill cover and a pair of hooked spines on the pointed snout. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the pogge are the numerous short barbels on the underside of the head. These barbels help the fish locate food e.g. small crustaceans and other bottom-living invertebrates. The coloration is usually dark greyish-brown with four or five darker saddles across the back and the underside is creamy-white. In the breeding season the pectoral fins are tinged with orange. Adult fish can grow to 20cm in length although most are between 10-15cm. Unlikely to be confused with any other species.
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Distribution

Baltic Sea, North Sea, Eastern North Atlantic and adjacent Arctic Ocean: Iceland and White Sea to English Channel.
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Northeast Atlantic: English Channel to Finmarken and Murman coasts and White Sea, also the Shetlands, the Faroes and southern and southwestern coasts of Iceland; southern part of Baltic.
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This species is widespread all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 5 - 6; Dorsal soft rays (total): 6 - 8; Analsoft rays: 5 - 7
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Size

Maximum size: 210 mm TL
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Max. size

21.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4700)); max. reported age: 3 years (Ref. 722)
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Diagnostic Description

Unpaired breast row of plates absent, but paired plate rows cover whole breast. Snout with a pair of strong spiny hooks; numerous barbels on branchiostegal membranes. Dorsal plates 31-34 (Ref. 232). Spiny and soft dorsal fins almost fused. No spines on the hind part of the head (Ref. 35388).
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth: 1 - 270m.
From 1 to 270 meters.

Habitat: demersal.
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Environment

demersal; marine; depth range 0 - 270 m (Ref. 58496)
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Depth range based on 21239 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 9533 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 262
  Temperature range (°C): 4.334 - 12.274
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 16.868
  Salinity (PPS): 8.540 - 35.498
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.262 - 7.708
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.239 - 0.890
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 16.024

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 262

Temperature range (°C): 4.334 - 12.274

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.402 - 16.868

Salinity (PPS): 8.540 - 35.498

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.262 - 7.708

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.239 - 0.890

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 16.024
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Agonus cataphractus spend most of their lives partly buried in sand, mud and gravel deeper than 20 m, down to 500 m, although the young have been found in as little as 2 m of water.
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The pogge is most frequently encountered on sandy or muddy seabeds at depths between 20 to several hundred metres. It feeds on bottom-living invertebrates especially small crustaceans, worms, molluscs and brittle-stars.
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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on small bottom crustaceans and polychaetes (Ref. 4700).
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Associations

Known prey organisms

Agonus cataphractus (Agonus cataphractus pogge) preys on:
Crangon crangon
Neomysis integer
Gammarus

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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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Agonus cataphractus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 23
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: public aquariums
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Wikipedia

Agonus cataphractus

The Pogge, Hook-nose, or Armed Bullhead, Agonus cataphractus is a species of fish in the Agonidae family, close to the scorpion fish. It is the only species of the genus Agonus.

It is characterized by being covered in hard, bony plates, which limit the flexibility of its body. It reaches up to 21 centimetres (8.3 in) in length, but is typically found at sizes of 10–15 centimetres (3.9–5.9 in). It features numerous barbells beneath a flattened head.

Distribution

The Pogge is found in the coastal seas of Norway, the British Isles, the Faeroes and the North Sea. It lives at depths between 5 and 20 metres, but migrates to deeper waters in winter.

References

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