Prickly Sculpin rescued from future work site in Morrison Creek.   Photo by K Clouston

Prickly Sculpin rescued from future work site in Morrison Creek. Photo by K Clouston

Prickly Sculpin can get to 30 centimeters long, but are usually smaller, often around 7 centimeters. It is mature at 2 to 4 years of age, and its maximum lifespan is around 7 years. It is brown, gray, or olive green on top and paler on the belly. There are dark spots or bars on the back and dark bars on most of the fins. The breeding male is darker in color than the female and nonbreeding male. Both sexes have an orangey color along the edge of the first dorsal fin during breeding. The pectoral fins are large and fan-shaped. The body of the fish is prickly with inland fish more prickly than those at the coast.

They eat water invertebrates, insects and their larvae, salmon eggs, fish larvae, and zooplankton, especially Daphnia spp. Larger sculpins eat small fish, frogs, and molluscs. Like many fish the adults are known to cannibalize the juveniles.  Spawning season can extend from February to June. The male creates a nest under debris such as logs or garbage, and the female lays from a few hundred to a few thousand eggs. The male guards the nest and may breed with more than one female per season.