The Alpine bullhead or Siberian bullhead (Cottus poecilopus) is a species of freshwater fish in the Cottidae family of sculpins. It is found in Belarus, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Ukraine. This fish is listed as being of "Least Concern" by the IUCN.
The Alpine bullhead has a large broad head and tapering body, large fins and a rounded tail. The eyes are located near the top of the head. This fish resembles the European bullhead and the freshwater form of the fourhorn sculpin. It can be told from the former by the fact that the innermost ray of its pelvic fins is shorter than the outermost ray rather than being of similar length. It can be distinguished from the fourhorn sculpin by the fact that the dorsal and anal fins terminate close to the tail giving a short caudal peduncle. When it rests on the bottom, the pectoral fins flare out resembling wings. The Arctic bullhead is usually about 5 to 8 cm (2.0 to 3.1 in) long with a maximum of 12 cm (5 in). It is light brown mottled with darker colour. The pelvic fins are spotted with darker colour and appear banded when bunched as against the European bullhead's clear fins.
Distribution and habitat
The Alpine bullhead is found in northern and central Europe in upland and coldwater streams and lakes in mountain regions.
The Alpine bullhead feeds on insects, crustaceans and small invertebrate prey that it finds on the bed of the stream. It is generally nocturnal but becomes diurnal in the Arctic during the winter. In spring, when the water temperature rises to 5 °C (41 °F), a male will prepare a nest site under a large stone and several females will lay their eggs in it. The male then guards the nest for the month or so until the eggs hatch.
- Freyhof, J.; Kottelat, M. (2008). "Cottus poecilopus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Cottus poecilopus" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
- "Alpine bullhead: Cottus poecilopus". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-17.