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Threespine Stickleback
Threespine Stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus

These fish as their name implies have distinctive spines along the back in front of the dorsal fin. Four species are found in freshwaters in North America; only the three spine stickleback is found in Virginia. Sticklebacks have complex reproductive behavior. The male builds unique oblong-shaped nest made of aquatic plant materials into which the female is enticed to deposit her eggs. These small stream fishes add to the aquatic diversity and serve as links in the food chain and indicators of water quality. Some species they can live in both fresh and salt water.
Physical Description: 
�	Narrow, elongate body
�	Dorsal spines on back, not connected to each other
�	Pelvic fin is just a large spine
�	Bony plates on the side of the body
�	Slender connection from the body to the tail fin
�	No scales

Similar species: 
�	Brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans)

Mean body size:
�	Adults are around 56 mm standard length 

�	Fresh and salt water, in estuaries
�	Anadromous or semianadromous

Distribution in VA:
�	James and York estuaries, and Delmarva estuaries

Food Habits:  
�	Unknown 

Reproductive Habits: 
�	Reproductive habits unknown

Population Status, Economic, or Ecological Importance: 
�	One of the most studied non-game fishes


Jenkins, R.E and N.M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Ohio.
If you are seeking more information for the above species click on the VAFWIS logo (The Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service):

Continue Browsing Families.....
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  2. Polyodontidae, Paddlefish
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  4. Lepisosteidae, Gars
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  6. Anguillidae, Freshwater Eels
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  16. Poeciliidae, Livebearers
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