Prickleback Species Index

Pricklebacks are a diverse group of eel-like fishes that inhabit the cold near shore waters of the northern hemisphere.  These fish, along with cockscombs, warbonnets, shannies, and eelblennies, are all part of the Family: Stichaeidae. Each member of this family can be characterized by their long, compressed body with a dorsal fin composed entirely of spines that runs from the back of the head to the base of, but not into, the tail fin.  The bottom fin, or anal fin, runs from the anal area, around mid-body, to the tail fin base.  There are 54 recognized species that inhabit the world’s oceans, most of which live in the north pacific. These eel-like fish can be found at every depth, however most are found in intertidal and shallow sub tidal zones.

The Pacific Northwest is home to 11 species of pricklebacks, most residing in shallow intertidal areas easily accessible by divers. Often confused with pricklebacks are Gunnels as they look similar and can be found in the same habitat range.


Decorated Warbonnet -
Chirolophis decoratus
High Cockscomb -
Anoplarchus purpuresens
Mosshead Warbonnet -
Chirolophis nugator

Slender Cockscomb -
Anoplarchus Insignis
Pacific Snake Prickleback -
Lumpenus sagitta
Rock Prickleback -
Xiphister mucosus
Black Prickleback -
Xiphister atropurpureus
Bluebarred Pickleback -
Plectobranchus evides


Additional Pacific Northwest Prickleback Species

Longsnout Prickleback - Lumpenella longirostris Whitebarred Prickleback - Poroclinus rothrocki
Ribbon Prickleback - Phytichthys chirus