Species #123 — Klamath Lake Sculpin

My one-and-only Klamath Lake Sculpin. Booyah!

Species: Slender Sculpin (Cottus tenuis)
Location: Link River, Klamath Falls, OR
Date: December 15, 2015

Since I just wrote an elaborate and detailed post helping you separate the three Upper Klamath Basin endemic sculpins from one another, I’m not gonna spend too much on this one.

Let me just say that when I finally caught my rough-skinned, joined-dorsal sculpin, I knew immediately I had my Klamath Lake Sculpin.

These fish also have an upturned mouth designed for them to feed off the bottom — a highly unique morphological feature among sculpins.

We already have the biggest wild native adfluvial rainbow population on earth, more lamprey biodiversity than any other system on earth, and is home to what will be the world’s largest dam removal project ever, but we also have cool sculpins. Just another reason the Klamath Basin is awesome.


I’ve pulled a resource from a later post to help you identify Upper Klamath Basin endemic sculpins. Read below.

To make it clearer, I’ve made this handy chart:

Know Your Upper Klamath Basin Sculpins
Skin Dorsal Fins Dorsal Spot Body Type Mouth
Klamath Lake Sculpin Rough Joined No Normal Upward-Facing
Klamath Marbled Sculpin Smooth Joined Yes Thick Downward-Facing
Slender Sculpin Smooth Separated No Normal Downward-Facing

I don’t normally post pics of fish out of chronological order, but it may help here.

Klamath Lake Sculpin — Note the joined dorsal fin without a spot? The upward-turned mouth? I also wish you could’ve felt its rough skin. These are all signs of a Klamath Lake Sculpin.
Klamath Marbled Sculpin — I only have one picture of a Klamath Marbled Sculpin, but it’s all you need. Note the joined dorsal with a big black spot? The massive, downward-facing mouth? The body thick enough to be that of an Instagram model? It also had smooth skin.
Slender Sculpin — The photo tank was a gamechanger, folks. Note the separated dorsal fins? That with the smooth skin and no remarkable or unique features indicates Slender Sculpin.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #124 — Speckled Dace.

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