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Fatheads/ springers
Cottunculus microps1.jpg
Polar sculpin, Cottunculus microps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Suborder: Cottoidei
Family: Psychrolutidae
T. N. Gill, 1861


The fish family Psychrolutidae contains the fatheads, fathead sculpins, or tadpole sculpins, including the blobfishes. About 40 species in 9 genera are recognized.[2] This family consists of bottom-dwelling marine sculpins shaped like tadpoles, with large heads and bodies that taper back into small, flat tails. The skin is loosely attached and movable, and the layer underneath it is gelatinous. Members of the family generally have large, leaf-like pectoral fins and lack scales, although some species are covered with soft spines. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The adults live on the sea floor, between 100 and 2,800 m (330 and 9,190 ft) deep,[3][4] Their name is derived from the Greek psychrolouteo, meaning "to have a cold bath".[4] They tend to live in colder waters, although some range into warm-temperate seas.[5]

The blob sculpin, Psychrolutes phrictus, exhibits complex nesting behaviors complete with egg guarding.[6]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Psychrolutidae" in FishBase. December 2012 version.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, W. N. (ed). "Catalog of Fishes". California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Eschmeyer, William M. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  4. ^ a b "Family Psychrolutidae - Fatheads". FishBase. 26 Aug 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Richards, William J. (2005). Early Stages of Atlantic Fishes: An Identification Guide for the Western Central North Atlantic. CRC Press. p. 1191. ISBN 978-0-203-50021-7. 
  6. ^ Drazen, Jeffrey C.; Goffredi, Shana K.; Schlining, Brian; Stakes, Debra S. (2003). "Aggregations of Egg-Brooding Deep-Sea Fish and Cephalopods on the Gorda Escarpment: a Reproductive Hot Spot". Biological Bulletin. 205 (1): 1–7. doi:10.2307/1543439. 

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