A baby lumpsucker, accidentally caught by a Cornish fisherman, has gone on display in the nursery tank at the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay.
The lumpsucker fish is one of the UK’s most unusual-looking fish and rarely seen in Cornish water; preferring the colder temperatures further north.
The baby, which is just 2cm long, was caught by fisherman New Bailey from Mylor, on the south coast of Cornwall, in a crab pot in Falmouth Bay and and has gone on display in the aquarium’s nursery unit where it is doing well.
Blue Reef’s Matt Slater said: “Lumpsuckers have been described as one of the marine world’s least graceful fish and they certainly look strange with their scaleless blue-green skin and deep bodies covered with bony lumps.
“However this thimble-sized baby is incredibly comical and very cute looking and is proving to be some of the most popular creatures with our visitors,” he added.
Found from Northern Europe and Greenland to Maryland in the United States, lumpsuckers spend most of their time in deep water.
In the spring, they come into the shallows to spawn. While the female returns to deeper waters, the male remains and protects the clump of up to 200,000 eggs from predators until they hatch.
The fish’s pelvic fins are adapted to form a powerful sucker on their undersides which is useful for clinging to rocks, particularly in wave-washed shallow waters and also allows the father to stay anchored to the rocks beside his eggs.
“At the moment he’s still tiny but, after five years or more, he’ll eventually grow to the size of a football and weigh up to five kilogrammes.
“They’re fascinating fish and people are particularly intrigued when they find out that the eggs are used as a substitute for caviar,” added Matt.
Apparently 18th century scientists, keen to find out whether the lumpsucker really lived up to its name, noted that a bucket full of water could be lifted by the tail of a full grown fish clinging to its base.