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Wild About Illinois Fishes!

Family Gadidae - Codfish Family

​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae - The burbot is the only freshwater species in this family. Cods have an elongate body with small cycloid scales, a large head and a long barbel at the tip of the chin.

burbot (Lota lota)
Photo © Engbretson Underwater Photography

Features and Behaviors


The average size for a burbot is 15 to 22 inches long and one to three pounds. It may attain a weight of 12 pounds. The single barbel (whisker-like projection) on the chin is characteristic. The elongate body is olive to green-brown with a white or pale yellow belly. It has small scales and a large head. Two dorsal fins are present, the first short and the second very long. The anal fin is nearly as long as the second dorsal fin. The tail fin is rounded.


The burbot lives in Lake Michigan and in streams. It prefers deep water. The burbot is active at night. Spawning in winter, the female scatters eggs over the bottom. Eggs hatch after three or four weeks. The burbot eats fishes and crayfish.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae

Illinois Status: common, native