Pungitius pungitius  (Linnaeus, 1758)

Ninespine stickleback
Add your observation in Fish Watcher
| Native range | All suitable habitat | PointMap | Year 2100 |
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Pungitius pungitius   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
Upload your photos and videos
Pictures | Google image
Image of Pungitius pungitius (Ninespine stickleback)
Pungitius pungitius
Picture by Hartl, A.

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

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Gasterosteiformes (Sticklebacks and seamoths) > Gasterosteidae (Sticklebacks and tubesnouts)
Etymology: Pungitius: Latin, pungitius = prickling (Ref. 45335).

Name often misapplied for Pungitius laevis (Cuvier, 1829) that replaces Pungitius pungitius in nothwesternmost Europe.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range ? - 110 m (Ref. 58426), usually 70 - 77 m (Ref. 1998).   Temperate; 10°C - 20°C (Ref. 1672); 82°N - 35°N, 180°W - 180°E

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 3.7  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 9.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 27547); common length : 6.5 cm NG male/unsexed; (Ref. 27547); max. reported age: 5 years (Ref. 27547)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 6 - 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9-13; Anal spines: 1; Anal soft rays: 8 - 13; Vertebrae: 30 - 35. Distinguished uniquely from congeners in Europe by having scutes on side of caudal peduncle, forming a keel. Differs further from other members of the genus in Europe by the combination of the following characters: flank lacking scutes; dorsal fin with 7-11 spines; and caudal peduncle wider than deep (Ref. 59043). Distinguished by the presence of 7 to 12 free spines in front of the dorsal fin and a long caudal keel that usually reaches beneath the dorsal fin (Ref. 27547). Dorsal spines separated from one another, each with a rudimentary membrane on its posterior side; anal spine stout and curved; posterior edge of pectorals rounded; pelvic ray pressed close to the spine; caudal fin usually truncate, varying from slightly indented to slightly rounded (Ref. 27547). Pale green, grey, or olive above, strongly pigmented with irregularly arranged dark bars or blotches; silvery below (Ref. 1998). Fins colorless (Ref. 27547). Breeding colors may be variable, depending on sex, population and stage of breeding cycle but color of females always less intense than those of males (Ref. 27547). Aggressive females become dark on the back and paler below, then sometimes become paler with more conspicuous saddle marks as actual breeding approaches (Ref. 30380). Aggressive males become totally black except for the colorless fins and the membranes on the pelvic spines, which are white. At breeding, the males become paler on the back and more intensely black on the belly, especially under the chin (Ref. 28993, 30380). Breeding males on the east coast of North America have been reported as reddish under the head and greenish on the belly (Ref. 27547). Caudal fin with 12 rays (Ref. 2196).

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

Circumarctic: Arctic and Atlantic drainages across Canada and Alaska, and as far south as New Jersey, USA; Pacific coast of Alaska; Great Lakes basin; also in Eurasia (Ref. 5723). Eurasia: coastal areas of northern Europe, from Netherlands to northern Russia, including southern Norway and Baltic basin. Widely distributed inland in eastern Scandinavia. Extends eastward to Siberia and Japan, but remains to be confirmed that East Asia populations are conspecific with European ones (Ref. 59043).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Found in shallow vegetated areas of lakes, ponds, and pools of sluggish streams; sometimes in open water over sand (Ref. 5723). Marine populations found near shore and move into fresh water to spawn (Ref. 5723). There appears to be seasonal movements inshore to shallow water in the spring for spawning, and, in the fall, offshore to deep water, or even to the less saline parts of the sea, by the young and adults that survive spawning (Ref. 27547). Nerito-pelagic (Ref. 58426). Feed on small invertebrates; also on aquatic insects and their eggs and larvae (Ref. 1998). Eggs are found in nests constructed from plant material (Ref. 41678). Males build, guard and aerate the nest where the eggs are deposited (Ref. 205). Females grow faster and live longer than do other males (Ref. 27547). Males seldom live beyond age three, due to heavy post-spawning mortality, but females may live to age five or more (Ref. 27547). When abundant, it is preyed upon by other fishes (Ref. 1998); also preyed by birds (Ref. 27547). May be used as human or dog food or as a source of oil (Ref. 27547).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p. (Ref. 5723)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: subsistence fisheries; aquarium: commercial
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins
Swim. type
Gill area


Special reports

Download XML

Internet sources

Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5020   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.3   ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (tm=1-2; tmax=5; Fec=350).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (27 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.