Pholis gunnellus (Linnaeus, 1758)


Pholis gunnellus

Description: The butterfish has a long, slender, eel-like body which is flattened from side to side. It has a very slippery skin and is difficult to pick up, hence its common name. The coloration is usually yellowish-brown with darker brown mottling. Like yarrell's blenny (Chirolophis ascani) there is a dark bar which runs from beneath the eye to the outer edge of the mouth. The most characteristic feature of the butterfish is a row of 9-15 black spots, each surrounded by a white ring, along the base of the dorsal fin. Adult fish are between 17-25cm in length.

Habitat: The butterfish is common beneath boulders and seaweeds on the low shore and also sublittorally in a wide range of habitats. It frequently hides amongst seaweed or in crevices in rock. It feeds mainly on small crustaceans and worms.

Distribution: This species is common and widespread all around Britain and Ireland.

Similar Species: Eels, some blennies and rocklings are a similar shape, however only the butterfish has a row of black spots surrounded by white circles at the base of the dorsal fin.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Pholis gunnellus (Linnaeus, 1758). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland.
https://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZG6800 Accessed on 2024-05-22

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