A fish of many talents

Unlike other fish, pricklebacks can breathe air. If kept moist, they can live out of water for up to a day and a half.

Look for us in Puget Sound tide pools
Pricklebacks are common here. They like to hide under shallow-water rocks and in crevasses, and don't come out that often. Sometimes when people see them slither through seaweed, they think pricklebacks are eels, but they're not. These adaptable fish can even wriggle over wet stones and kelp, out of the water.
They don't call them pricklebacks for nothing
There are over 70 species of pricklebacks and most of them have dorsal fins entirely made up of sharp, non-poisonous, spines.
I'm not doing yoga, it's just the way I perch
Pricklebacks often rest with their tail on the sand, perched on their two front fins.
Careful with those eggs!
Female pricklebacks lay a cluster of eggs in rock cavities or sometimes in an empty bivalve shell. They curve their body into a loop while laying the eggs, rolling the mass into a ball about one inch in diameter. Then she or her mate (depends on the species) care for the eggs, fanning and oxygenating them until the fry emerge.
Help keep pricklebacks safe and healthy
When you visit the beach, tread lightly—both figuratively and literally. There are animal homes directly beneath your feet! Learn more about beach etiquette by talking with one of our volunteer beach naturalists. You can find them on local shorelines during low-tide days each summer!


Prickleback range

Quick Facts

Diet: Carnivore/omnivore
Size: 10–20"