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banded sculpin

banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae)
Photo © Engbretson Underwater Photography

Features and Behaviors


The banded sculpin may attain a length of two and one-half to five inches. Its back and sides are brown, green or red-brown with four or five dark saddles. The belly is yellow-white with dark specks. The pelvic fins are white, while the other fins are dark. The lateral line is complete. This fish lives about six years.


The banded sculpin may be found in the southern tip of Illinois and in the Ohio and lower Mississippi rivers in Illinois. This fish lives in rock and gravel areas in creeks and rivers. The banded sculpin spawns in spring. The male prepares a nest under a rock and stays with the eggs and young until they leave the nest. The female turns upside down to lay eggs on the roof of the nest chamber. More than one female may lay eggs in the same nest. The eggs hatch after three or four weeks. This fish hides under rocks during the day. It feeds on the bottom at night, eating crayfish, immature insects, small fishes and snails.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Cottidae

Illinois Status: common, native