Staghorn Sculpin

Leptocottus armatus





The Leptocottus armatus, also known as the staghorn sculpin, gets the name from the stag anther-shaped spine on each side of the head.  The fish has a grayish olive green color that can sometimes be more or less yellow.  The body length can get up to 48 cm long.  In respect to habitats, the sculpin lives within bays, estuaries, and muddy-bottomed areas.  The geographic distribution ranges from northern Alaska to northern Mexico.  A fun fact includes that the particular sculpin has the capability to breathe air when out of water and will move out of the tide pools if conditions permit (2).  Although the staghorn sculpin lives most of their lives within brackish water, the particular species have the ability to adapt to freshwater ecosystems.  As larvae, the fish begin within estuaries in sandy, soft substrate.  Food sources include small fish, aquatic insect larvae, and amphipods.  For the adults, feeding occurs at night and the food sources include crabs, shrimp, and fish.  In respect to reproduction, fertilization is external with spawning that occurs from October to April (1).


(1) “Pacific Staghorn Sculpin.” University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, California Fish Website, Regents of the University of California, 

(2) "Pacific staghorn sculpin - Leptocottus armature.” Biodiversity of the Central Coast, University of Victoria