Scaleless, Spiny, Suckers

Scaleless, Spiny, Suckers

Have you seen the adorably awkward Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker? They’re found along the Pacific coast, from Washington to Alaska, to some parts of Japan. This unique fish is known for its spines, lumps, and suckers!

Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker

Unlike most fish, lumpsuckers do not have scales. Instead, they’re covered with plate-like structures containing spiny lumps called tubercles that almost act like a coat of armor. Lumpsuckers are little — only about the size of a ping pong ball — so these protective tubercles are a pretty important feature.

Lumpsuckers are not the best swimmers due to their round shape and small fins. Instead, they rely on a powerful suction cup-like disc on the underside of their body. This adaptation allows them to stick to rocky surfaces and algae when even the strangers of ocean currents are present.

Male lumpsuckers will prepare nests in shallow, calm water far away from predators. Once the females deposit their eggs that is when males truly shine! Males will use their pelvic fins almost like a suction cup in order to attach to a nearby rock and keep watch — some have been known to stand guard for up to 8 weeks!