The Cottidae are a family of fish in the superfamily Cottoidea, the sculpins. It is the largest sculpin family, with about 275 species in 70 genera.[1] They are referred to simply as cottids to avoid confusion with sculpins of other families.[1]

Cottids are distributed worldwide, especially in boreal and colder temperate climates.[1] The center of diversity is the northern Pacific Ocean.[1] Species occupy many types of aquatic habitats, including marine and fresh waters, and deep and shallow zones. A large number occur in near-shore marine habitat types, such as kelp forests and shallow reefs. They can be found in estuaries and in bodies of fresh water.[1]

Most cottids are small fish, under 10 cm (3.9 in) in length.[2] The species Scorpaenichthys marmoratus can be up to 78 cm (31 in) in length.[3] They vary in coloration and patterning between species and between individuals of some species, and sometimes between sexes.[1] Their eyes are large and placed high on the head. Adults lack swim bladders.[3]

Cottus cognatus
Cottus cognatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Superfamily: Cottoidea
Family: Cottidae
Bonaparte, 1831



The genera of the family include:[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kane, E. A. and T. E. Higham. (2012). Life in the flow lane: differences in pectoral fin morphology suggest transitions in station-holding demand across species of marine sculpin. Zoology (Jena) 115(4), 223-32.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, W. N. (1998). Paxton, J. R. and W. N. Eschmeyer., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 178–79. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  3. ^ a b Froese, R. and D. Pauly. (Eds.) Cottidae. FishBase. 2011.
  4. ^ Cottidae. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  5. ^ Tokranov, AM; Orlov, AM; Sheiko, BA (2003). "Brief review of the genera Hemilepidotus and Melletes (Cottidae) and some traits of the biology of a new species for Russia Hemilepidotus zapus from Pacific waters of the northern Kurils". Journal of Ichthyology. 43 (3): 333–49.

Artedius is a genus of sculpins native to the Pacific Ocean. Identified by Charles Frédéric Girard in 1856, it was named after Peter Artedi, a fellow naturalist.

Artedius fenestralis

Artedius fenestralis or the padded sculpin is a species of sculpin in the family Cottidae. The species is native to the eastern Pacific, with a range extending from the Alaska Peninsula to Southern California. It grows to a maximum length of 14 centimeters and subsists on a diet of shrimp and small fishes.

Artedius lateralis

Artedius lateralis, also known as the smoothhead sculpin or round-nosed sculpin, is a species of sculpin in the family Cottidae. The species, commonly found in the intertidal zone and to depths of 43 feet, is native to the northern Pacific, from Russia and the Bering Sea to Baja California. Growing to a length of 14 centimeters, it takes its name from the lack of scales on its head.

Bero elegans

Bero elegans is a species of sculpin native to the northwestern Pacific Ocean. This species grows to a length of 20 centimetres (7.9 in) TL. It is the only known member of its genus.

Cabezon (fish)

The cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) is a large species of sculpin native to the Pacific coast of North America. Although the genus name translates literally as "scorpion fish", true scorpionfish (such as lionfish) belong to the related family Scorpaenidae. The cabezon is the only known member of its genus.


Clinocottus is a genus of sculpins, nearshore benthic fishes native to the northeastern Pacific Ocean. They are mentioned as sharpnose sculpins.Molecular data indicate that this genus is polyphyletic or paraphyletic, it does not constitute a natural assemblage within Cottidae.

Clinocottus globiceps

Clinocottus globiceps, commonly known as the mosshead sculpin or globe-headed sculpin, is a species of fish in the family Cottidae, native to the northeastern Pacific.

C. globiceps is a resident (non-migratory) intertidal species which exhibits homing behavior. It generally inhabits tidal pools and shallow rocky areas, often in strong surf. C. globiceps can leave a tide pool if conditions become inhospitable, since it can also breathe air. It sometimes rests on rocks out of water, but usually under rocks or among seaweed. C. globiceps is most commonly found in the eastern Pacific from Kodiak Island (Alaska) to Gaviota (southern California). This fish prefers a temperate climate from latitude 60°N. to 32°N. and is usually in a marine, demersal environment.

Cottus (genus)

Cottus is a genus of the sculpin family Cottidae. They are often referred to as the "freshwater sculpins", as they are the principal genus of sculpins to be found in fresh water. They are native to the Palearctic and Nearctic.They are small fish, mostly less than 15 cm (6 in) in length, although a few species can reach twice that size.

European bullhead

The European bullhead (Cottus gobio) is a freshwater fish that is widely distributed in Europe, mainly in rivers. It is a member of the family Cottidae, a type of sculpin. It is also known as the miller's thumb, freshwater sculpin, common bullhead and European bullhead.The European bullhead is a small demersal fish that lives both in cold, clear, fast-flowing small streams and in middle-sized rivers. It also occurs on gravelly shores of cold lakes. Further, it thrives in diluted brackish water of the Northern Baltic Sea.

Giona (river)

The Giona is a ‘torrent’, or intermittent stream, which rises on the slopes of Monte Tamaro, in the Swiss canton of Ticino. After about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi), it enters the Italian province of Varese, forming the Val Veddasca before entering Lake Maggiore at Maccagno. Its course passes through the communes of Indemini in Switzerland and Veddasca, Curiglia con Monteviasco, Dumenza and Maccagno in Italy.

The fish found in the river are predominantly Salmonidae, Cyprinidae and Cottidae, in particular brown trout, grayling, chub, vairone and European bullhead.The river is put to use as a source of hydropower.


Hemilepidotus, the Irish lords, is a genus of sculpins native mostly to the northern Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

Jordania zonope

Jordania zonope, the longfin sculpin, is a species of sculpin native to the northeastern Pacific Ocean, ranging from Baranof Island (Alaska) to Point Lobos (California). It can be found at depths of 2 to 38 metres (6.6 to 124.7 ft). This species grows to a length of 15 centimetres (5.9 in) TL. This species is sometimes displayed in public aquariums. This species is the only known member of its genus.

Longspined bullhead

The longspined bullhead (Taurulus bubalis), also known as the longspined sea-scorpion, is a coastal fish of the sculpin family Cottidae, inhabiting marine waters of Europe.


Myoxocephalus is a genus of fish in the sculpin family Cottidae. Most species live in marine waters, but there are also three freshwater species, including two that occupy northern lakes (Myoxocephalus quadricornis and M. thompsonii). The name is derived from Greek myos (muscle) and kephale (head).

Norway bullhead

The Norway bullhead (Micrenophrys lilljeborgii) is a coastal fish of the family Cottidae, found in Northern Europe.

Pacific staghorn sculpin

The Pacific staghorn sculpin, Leptocottus armatus, is a common sculpin (Cottidae) found in shallow coastal waters along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California. The sole member of its genus, it is unusual for having spined antler-like projections on its gill covers; it can raise the projections as a defense mechanism.

Staghorn sculpins are slender fish, with a grayish olive above, pale creamy yellow sides, and a white belly. The first dorsal fin has 7 spines and usually a dark spot in the posterior half, while the second dorsal has 17 rays. The anal fin also has 17 rays, while the pelvic fins have four rays. The fins have barred patterns of varying prominence. They can reach a length of 46 cm.

They are common in estuaries and coastal lagoons, where they feed on a variety of invertebrates, primarily amphipods such as Corophium.

Scaled sculpin

Scaled sculpins (genus Icelus) are a group of small benthic fishes (up to 25 cm) living in cold waters. They are mainly found in the North Pacific, with some species in the North Atlantic. They are characterized by a large, laterally compressed head and small spines. The lateral line is present and the dorsal fin base are dotted with scutes (plates).

In FishBase and Nelson the genus is included in the family Cottidae of sculpins but in some classifications it is raised to its own family, Icelidae Berg, 1940.


Scorpaenidae (also known as the scorpionfish) are a family of mostly marine fish that includes many of the world's most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of "sting" in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. They should not be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related, family, Cottidae.

Twohorn sculpin

The twohorn sculpin (Icelus bicornis) is an Arctic benthic fish species of the order Scorpaeniformes.

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