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A Sculpin is a fish that belongs to the order Scorpaeniformes, suborder Cottoidei and superfamily Cottoidea, that contains 11 families, 149 genera, and 756 species. These totals will likely change as more molecular work is done.
The currently recognized families are:
- Abyssocottidae: deepwater Baikal sculpins (22 species [spp])
- Agonidae: poacher (fish) (47 spp)
- Bathylutichthyidae: the Antarctic sculpin (1 sp)
- Comephoridae: Baikal oilfishes (2 spp)
- Cottidae: common sculpins (~275 spp)
- Ereuniidae: deepwater sculpins (3 spp)
- Hemitripteridae: searavens (8 spp)
- Psychrolutidae: fathead sculpins (35 spp)
- Rhamphocottidae: the grunt sculpin (1 sp)
The vast majority of these families live in salt water; only the Abyssocottids, Comephorids, and a few species of Cottids live in fresh water. These bottom feeders are generally considered edible, and have sharp spines rather than scales. Sculpin can live for several hours out of water if kept moist. They use their large pectoral fins to stabilize themselves on the floor of flowing creeks and rivers.
The freshwater ones are called "muddlers", "Miller's Thumbs" or "Skull Fish" and are often used as bait for brown trout and bass. Saltwater staghorn sculpins are used as bait for large Pacific striped bass. All but the staghorn have large, sharp teeth, and some, like the large sea raven, can inflict serious bites on people. Their venomous spines are on both dorsal fins, the pectoral fins, pelvic fins, anal fins, and several on the gill cover.
Scuplin is the only fish that contains an adrenal gland, and thus receive adrenaline. No other fish contain an adrenal gland.
Sculpin stings are very painful and are often associated with swelling and reddening of the affected area. The most common treatment for a sculpin sting is to submerge the stung area in warm to hot water. The heat helps to denature the proteins in the poison and to relieve the pain of the sting. Sculpin are found in both fresh and salt water.
Well camouflaged tidepool sculpin is eating a shrimp
- Nelson, JS (2006) Fishes of the World, 4th Ed. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ
Further reading 
- McClane, AJ. "McClanes guide to freshwater fishes of North America" and "McClanes Guide to Saltwater fishes of North America". The New Fishing Encyclopedia.
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