Species Profile

Blackline Prickleback

Scientific Name: Acantholumpenus mackayi
Other/Previous Names: Pighead Prickleback
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Arctic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2003
Last COSEWIC Designation: Data Deficient
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)

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Image of Blackline Prickleback

Blackline Prickleback Photo 1



The Pighead Prickleback is a benthic fish with a long and slender body and a dorsal fin which extends almost the entire length of the body. It has a pointed snout which extends beyond the upper lip; the base of the dorsal fin is marked by a solid dark line; the pelvic fins are short and slender, while the pectoral fins are large and oval, and the anal fin is long. Pighead Pricklebacks are yellowish to yellowish-brown and there are dark marks on the head and the back. The Pighead Prickleback measures 50-70 cm.


Distribution and Population

In Canada, Pighead Pricklebacks are found in the Beaufort Sea. This species is not common in Canada.



Pighead Pricklebacks seem to prefer deep saline waters with sandy and silty bottoms; spawning occurs in shallow water.



Information on the general biology of the Pighead Prickleback is limited.


Perturbations in the nearshore habitat used for spawning could have limiting effects on the populations of Pighead Pricklebacks.




PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

3 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Pighead Prickleback Acantholumpenus mackayi in Canada (2003)

    This marine fish is a member of the family Stichaeidae. It has a slender, eel-like body with numerous dorsal rays extending along the full length of its back. It is distinguished from other stichaeids by thickened lips, stout head, and proportionally smaller eyes. Although the proper common name for this prickleback is the pighead (American Fisheries Society), this species is sometimes called the blackline prickleback.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Pighead Prickleback (2003)

    Designated Special Concern in April 1989. Status re-examined in May 2003 and designated Data Deficient. Last assessment based on an update status report.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Pighead Prickleback (2004)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.