A shoal of comical-looking lumpsucker fish has gone on display at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
Also known as ‘sea hens’ due to their apparent resemblance to chickens the fish are among the most unusual species found in UK waters.
The fish get their name from specially adapted pelvic fins on their bellies which form a suction cup which allows them to anchor on to rocks.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Rosie Wiggin said: “They’ve been described as one of the marine world’s least graceful fish and they certainly look funny with their scaleless blue-green skin and deep bodies covered with bony lumps.”
“Lumpsuckers are always popular with visitors due to their quirky appearance. They’re fascinating fish and people are particularly intrigued when they find out the eggs are often used as a kind of caviar substitute.”
Found from Northern Europe and Greenland to Maryland in the United States, lumpsuckers spend most of their time in deep water.
As the males mature they change colour from light green to a dark brown or even red.
In the late spring, they come into the shallows to spawn. While the female returns to deeper waters, the male remains and protects the clump of up to 200,000 eggs from predators until they hatch.
The fish’s powerful sucker is useful for clinging to rocks, particularly in wave-washed shallow waters and also allows the father to stay anchored to the rocks beside his eggs.