St. Lawrence species

Spotted wolffish

Anarhichas minor

Type of resource

  • Bottom fish
  • Fish

Status of the resource

  • Threatened

In season

Not yet commercialised.

SIZE : Up to 150 cm for 22 kg.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Up to 21 years.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity is reached by 7 to 10 years of age.

Spawning takes place between July and January. The spotted wolffish has an elaborate reproductive behaviour. After fertilisation, the female lays her eggs on the bottom. The male watches over them, by grouping them into a mass that it protects and oxygenates by ventilating them. A female can lay between 8,000 and 50,000 eggs a year.

At the end of the incubation period, small fish, miniature versions of the adults, emerge from the eggs. They will remain in proximity of their birthplace.

The spotted wolffish is a large, elongated fish. Its head is large and scaleless. Large, pointed teeth protrude from the front of the jaw. Its back has a long, single fin that starts behind its head and disappears just before its small tail.

One of its distinguishing features is the presence of dark spots of varying size and shape on the top of its body. Below these spots, the spotted wolffish’s color can vary from yellowish brown to chocolate brown.

On the seabed, 25 to 600 m deep.

The spotted wolffish prefers cold water, below 5 °C. It settles on bottoms of sand, mud, and shells with rocks or large stones nearby.




Greenland sharks

MACHINES : Aquaculture.

Spotted wolffish are not targeted by fisheries but will be an incidental catch when fishing for bottom fish. Its numbers have seen an important decline in Canadian waters since the 1980s.

Since 2003, the spotted wolffish is a protected species by law. Any catch must be returned to the water, and a recovery plan for the species must be drawn up and implemented.

For consumption purposes, the option of saltwater farming is being explored. Initial results show that this species could be suitable for aquaculture.

The spotted wolffish is rich in protein, in Omega 3 fatty acids, in several vitamins from the B group (B5, B3 et B6), in vitamin E, as well as in phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium.

Fine white flesh, fragrant and delicate.

Rather sweet flavour.

With a tender and firm texture, the spotted wolffish has few bones.

It can be prepared in a variety of ways: poached, baked, braised, grilled, fried, stuffed, en papillote, etc.


Given its threatened status, we do not recommend eating spotted wolffish.