Lumpsucker

Male lumpsucker ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Lumpsucker

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Scientific name: Cyclopterus lumpus
This funny-looking fish certainly won't be winning any beauty pageants, but it's a real contender for Father of the Year!

Top facts

Stats

Length: 30-50cm

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

One look at a lumpsucker and it's easy to see where its name came from. It's a ball-like lumpy fish with a special sucker that enables them to stick onto the rocks. The sucker is made from the fused pelvic fins and is pretty effective against the breaking waves. For most of the year they live out below the low tide mark in fairly deep water, but return to rocky shores in spring to breed. The female has a limited role in this exciting story, simply laying her eggs before returning to deeper seas. It's the Dad that has the starring role as he stays with the eggs for over a month until they hatch. During this time, he guards the eggs against predators and fans them with his tail to keep them well oxygenated. It's during this time that the true value of their sucker is revealed - as the eggs are often laid in the rough surf zone and it's only thanks to the sucker that the devoted Dad isn't washed away. They are the biggest fish to be found in rockpools - so you'll easily spot them if they're there.

What to look for

The lumpsucker is unmistakeable - it is ball-like, lumpy and bluish-grey in colour, though the males have an orangey belly during the breeding season.

Where to find

Most common around Scotland and Northern England and rare on England's south coast.

Did you know?

The lumpsucker is a favourite food of Otters on the west coast of Scotland and the eggs are commercially harvested as a form of caviar for humans.