Quick Facts

Species Type

Nonnative

Size

Up to two feet in length

Habitat

Found in waters that range from 140 to 490 feet deep; come closer inshore when spawning and generally stick to rocky bottoms 

Range

Live along both coasts of the North Atlantic, but only occasionally come as far south at the Chesapeake Bay in the winter and early spring.

Diet

Jellyfish, crustaceans, marine worms and small fish

Lifespan

Average six to seven years in the wild; up to 13 years

Conservation Status

Stable

Appearance

Lumpfish can vary in color, but they are usually greenish or gray. During the spawning season, males become reddish on their undersides and females turn blue-green. Their first dorsal fin on their backs is covered by a thick layer of skin. Along their sides, lumpfish have three rows of large, bony protrusions called tubercles. Their pelvic fins allow the fish to attach itself to rocks and other objects.

They can grow to be as large as two feet in length and weigh up to 21 pounds. In the wild, lumpfish live to be between six and seven years old, but the oldest known lumpfish was 13 years old.

Feeding

Lumpfish eat jellyfish, crustaceans, marine worms and small fish.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

These are solitary, not schooling fish. Lumpfish come inshore to spawn from May to June. The males guard the egg masses after they are laid. Egg masses can include as many as 300,000 eggs.

Did You Know?

  • The lumpfish gets its scientific name Cyclopterus from the Greek kyklos, meaning “round,” and pteron, meaning “fin.”
  • Lumpfish are also known as lumpsuckers.
  • People in northern Europe eat smoked lumpfish, and they are highly valued for their eggs which can make an inexpensive caviar.

Sources and Additional Information

  • FAO FishFinder – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes by C. Richard Robins, G. Carleton Ray and John Douglass
  • FishBase – R. Froese and D. Pauly
  • Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
  • Fish: Lumpfish – NatureGate