Viviparous eelpout

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Viviparous eelpout
Zoarces viviparus.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Zoarcidae
Genus: Zoarces
Species: Z. viviparus
Binomial name
Zoarces viviparus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The viviparous eelpout (Zoarces viviparus), also known as the, viviparous blenny and European eelpout is an eelpout in the family Zoarcidae. It is notable for giving birth to live larvae (hence the description "mother of eels"). It is a common soup ingredient in Mediterranean countries. The bones are of greenish colour, due to a harmless pigment. Their skin is slimy and the color is variable.

Viviparous eelpouts grow to a maximum length of 52 centimetres (20 in) and a maximum weight of 510 grams (18 oz). They typically live at water depths up to 40 metres (130 ft). The fish live to a maximum age of 10 years.

These eelpouts live in a temperate climate in the marine waters of the Northeast Atlantic including the seas such as the Baltic, Barents, Irish, North, and White Seas. They also live in some brackish inlets, such where the River Somme meets the English Channel. The fish stay towards the rocky shorelines and tidepools among the stones and algae. The fish are capable of living out of water under rocks and seaweed due to their ability to breathe air directly. The fish eat eggs and fry of fish and macroinvertebrates such as gastropods and crustaceans.

The fish are notably viviparous, giving birth to 30–400 live developed young. Adults mate during the months of August and September using internal fertilization. It has been discovered that the eelpout suckles its young embryos while still within their mother's body, making it the only fish species to suckle its offspring.[1]


  1. ^ Matt Walker (September 28, 2010). "Pregnant European eelpout fish suckles young embryos". BBC News. Retrieved September 29, 2010.