Esox lucius  Linnaeus, 1758

Northern pike
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Esox lucius
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Esociformes (Pikes and mudminnows) > Esocidae (Pikes)
Etymology: Esox: From Greek, isox and also related with the Celtic root, eog, ehawc = salmon (Ref. 45335);  lucius: lucius which is supposedly the latin name for this species (Ref. 1998).   More on author: Linnaeus.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; brackish; demersal; potamodromous; depth range 0 - 30 m (Ref. 1998), usually 1 - 5 m (Ref. 1998).   Subtropical; 10°C - 28°C (Ref. 12741); 74°N - 36°N, 167°W - 180°E

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 37.6, range 25 - 63 cm
Max length : 137 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 40637); 150.0 cm TL (female); common length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 556); common length :55 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 28.4 kg (Ref. 40637); max. published weight: 28.4 kg; max. reported age: 30 years (Ref. 556)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal soft rays (total): 17-25; Anal soft rays: 10 - 22; Vertebrae: 57 - 65. Diagnosed from all other freshwater fishes in Europe by the combination of the following characters: long snout; large mouth; dorsal fin origin slightly in front of anal origin; and lateral line with 105-148 scales (Ref. 59043). Distinguished by its long, flat, 'duck-bill' snout; its large mouth with many large, sharp teeth; and the rearward position of its dorsal and anal fins (Ref. 27547). Gill rakers present only as patches of sharp teeth on gill arches; lateral line notched posteriorly (Ref. 27547). Dorsal located far to the rear; anal located under and arising a little behind dorsal; pectorals low on body, base under opercle; pelvic fins low on body; paired fins rounded, paddle-shaped (Ref. 27547). Caudal fin with 19 rays (Ref. 2196).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Circumpolar in fresh water. North America: Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from Labrador to Alaska and south to Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska, USA (Ref. 5723). Eurasia: Caspian, Black, Baltic, White, Barents, Arctic, North and Aral Seas and Atlantic basins, southwest to Adour drainage; Mediterranean basin in Rhône drainage and northern Italy. Widely distributed in central Asia and Siberia easward to Anadyr drainage (Bering Sea basin). Historically absent from Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean France, central Italy, southern and western Greece, eastern Adriatic basin, Iceland, western Norway and northern Scotland. Widely introduced and translocated throughout Europe (Ref. 59043). Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction (Ref. 1739).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Occurs in clear vegetated lakes, quiet pools and backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers (Ref. 5723). Usually solitary and highly territorial. Enters brackish water in the Baltic. Adults feed mainly on fishes, but at times feed heavily on frogs and crayfish (Ref. 27547). Cannibalism is common. In arctic lakes, it is sometimes the only species present in a given water body. In such cases, juveniles feed on invertebrates and terrestrial vertebrates; large individuals are mainly cannibals (Ref. 59043). Cannibalistic as juveniles (Ref. 30578). Feces of pike are avoided by other fish because they contain alarm pheromones. Deposits feces at specific locations, distant from its foraging area (Ref. 59043). Eggs and young are preyed upon by fishes, aquatic insect larvae, birds, and aquatic mammals (Ref. 1998). Does not generally undertake long migrations, but a few may move considerable distances (Ref. 27547). Oviparous (Ref. 205). This fish can be heavily infested with parasites, including the broad tapeworm which, if not killed by thorough cooking, can infect human; is used as an intermediate host by a cestode parasite which results to large losses in usable catches of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in some areas; also suffers from a trematode which causes unsightly cysts on the skin (Ref. 9988). Excellent food fish; utilized fresh and frozen; eaten pan-fried, broiled, and baked (Ref. 9988). Valuable game fish (Ref. 5723). In spite of numerous attempts to culture this species, it was never entirely domesticated and does not accept artificial food (Ref. 30578). Locally impacted by habitat alterations (Ref. 59043).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Spawners move inshore or upstream to the marsh areas to spawn (Ref. 27547). Generally, spawning occurs during the day. The sexes pair and a larger female is usually attended by one or two smaller males. They swim through and over the vegetation in water usually less than 17.8 cm, releasing eggs and sperm simultaneously at irregular intervals (Ref. 1998). Eggs are deposited in flooded areas and on submerged vegetation over a period of 2-5 days (Ref. 59043). Only 5 to 60 eggs ae released at a time (Ref. 27547). This act is repeated every few minutes for up to several hours, after which the fish rest for some time before resuming. During the resting period, both male and female may take new mates, or they may continue together for several days until all eggs are extruded. Spawned-out adults may stay on the spawning grounds for as long as 14 weeks, but most leave within 6 (Ref. 27547).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Crossman, E.J., 1996. Taxonomy and distribution. p. 1-11. In J.F. Craig (ed.) Pike biology and exploration. Chapman and Hall, London. 298 p. (Ref. 26373)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Potential pest




Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO(Aquaculture: production; fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5314   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00427 (0.00372 - 0.00490), b=3.09 (3.05 - 3.13), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.1   ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.07-0.3; tm=2-3; tmax=30; Fec=2,000-600,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High to very high vulnerability (69 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.