Threespine Stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus
These fish as their name implies have
distinctive spines along the back in front of the
dorsal fin. Four species are found in
freshwaters in North America; only the three
spine stickleback is found in Virginia.
Sticklebacks have complex reproductive
behavior. The male builds unique
oblong-shaped nest made of aquatic plant
materials into which the female is enticed to
deposit her eggs. These small stream fishes
add to the aquatic diversity and serve as links
in the food chain and indicators of water
quality. Some species they can live in both
fresh and salt water.
· Narrow, elongate body
· Dorsal spines on back, not connected to each other
· Pelvic fin is just a large spine
· Bony plates on the side of the body
· Slender connection from the body to the tail fin
· No scales
· Brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans)
Mean body size:
· Adults are around 56 mm standard length
· Fresh and salt water, in estuaries
· Anadromous or semianadromous
Distribution in VA:
· James and York estuaries, and Delmarva estuaries
· Reproductive habits unknown
Population Status, Economic, or Ecological Importance:
· One of the most studied non-game fishes
Jenkins, R.E and N.M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.
Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Ohio.
If you are seeking more information for the above species click on the VAFWIS logo (The Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service):
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