St. Lawrence species


Cyclopterus lumpus

Type of resource

  • Bottom fish
  • Fish

Other names

Henfish, Lumpsucker

Status of the resource

  • Threatened

In season

SIZE : From 40 cm to 50 cm, up to 60 cm.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Up to 13 years.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity around 5 or 6 years.

Spawning takes place in May and June in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Adults migrate to shallow coastal waters.

Males take part in an arduous nuptial procession to defend their territory and conquer their mate.

The female lays a mass of over 140,000 eggs. This spongy, sticky mass attaches itself to stones among the algae.

Once it has laid its eggs, the female returns to deeper waters. Incubation lasts from 1 and a half to 2 months. The male defends and fans its eggs. To aerate them, it stretches the mass of eggs by inserting its head to circulate water with jaw movements.

Credit : Claude Nozères, photo taken in 2019 at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute.

The lumpfish has a stocky body. Its rough, thick, scale-less skin is dotted with warty growths. Its mouth has a row of small, simple teeth. The hump on its back is half cartilaginous, half gelatinous.

This species of fish has a pair of large fins just behind its head and a slightly rounded tail. One of its special features is the large suction disk on its belly, which allows it to attach to hard surfaces.

Its color varies according to its environment. It can range from blue to gray-brown. Its lighter belly is yellowish or whitish. Males turn red during the reproduction period.

Near the bottom, between 50 m and 150 m deep.

Lumpfish can withstand temperatures ranging from 1 ° C to 11 ° C. They can occasionally withstand temperatures of up to 20 ° C for less than 24 hours. They prefer rocky areas with abundant vegetation for hiding.





Small crustaceans


Small herrings

Sand lances


Grey seals

Greenland sharks


Northern gannets

MACHINES : Gillnets.


  • Restricted season and fishing zones
  • Regulated mesh size to avoid catching undersized individuals

The number of large lumpfish catches and fishermen has greatly decreased since 1986.
This fish is mostly caught for its eggs, known as “lumpfish eggs” or ” fake-caviar”.

BENEFITS Eggs of the large lumpfish are rich in vitamins A, B12 and D, as well as sodium, iodine, and phosphorus.

LET’S COOK It is not the flesh of the lumpfish that is eaten, but rather its crunchy and slightly iodine tasting eggs. They are colored red, to make them more appetizing; or black, to look more like caviar.


  • Given its threatened status, and the fact that its eggs may contain coloring agents, we do not recommend consuming products from lumpfish.