Lumpsucker

Male lumpsucker ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Lumpsucker

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!

Species information

Statistics

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.

How to identify

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.

Distribution

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.

How people can help

If you meet a lumpsucker when rockpooling, leave him be - he is busy guarding his eggs! As a general rule when rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any seaweed you move out of the way, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.