Longspined bullhead

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Longspined bullhead
Long Spined Scorpion Fish.jpg
Longspined bullhead. Photographed at Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Cottidae
Genus: Taurulus
Gratzianov, 1907
Species: T. bubalis
Binomial name
Taurulus bubalis
(Euphrasén, 1786)
Longspined Bullhead Taurulus bubalis distribution map.png
Longspined bullhead range.[2]
Cottus bubalis
Cottus maculatus

The longspined bullhead (Taurulus bubalis), also known as the longspined sea-scorpion, is a coastal fish of the sculpin family Cottidae, inhabiting marine waters of Europe.


The longspined bullhead is a small fish with a thick, tapering body and a large head and resembles the shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius). It has two spines on each side on the gill cover, the front one extending further than the rear one. The skin is not clad in scales. There is a row of bony tubercles running along the flank on the lateral line and there are backward sloping bony tubercles on the crown of the head. It has a variety of colours ranging from shades of brown or olive green, with cream blotches and four dark, vertical bands. The belly is pale bluish-green but becomes suffused with red in males in the breeding season.[3]


Bullhead are predators that will eat prawns, molluscs and small fish such as gobies and blennies. Despite their small size they are aggressive and will attack fish bigger than themselves. They lie in wait for prey, camouflaged against rocks and weed before striking out at anything that passes. Like all fish in the Cottidae family, the bullhead does not have a swim bladder, meaning that it sinks as soon as it stops swimming. Breeding takes place in early spring and fertilisation is internal, the eggs are laid in algae and are guarded by the adults. Once the fry hatch, they go offshore for a while, before returning to the coast. The reproduction of this species has not been fully studied however. They can be found from tidal areas to 30 m (1,200 in) down, though they are most common at the coast.[3][4]

Other names[edit]

Other English names for this species include sea scorpion, bullhead, rockfish, rock sculpin, scorpion fish, clobberhead.


  1. ^ NatureServe (2016). "Taurulus bubalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  2. ^ International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2014. Taurulus bubalis. In: IUCN 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Longspined bullhead: Taurulus bubalis". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  4. ^ The Pocket Guide to Saltwater Fishes of Britain and Europe