The kawaii Balloon Lumpfish

Just when you thought there’s nothing cuter than kittens and puppies, enter the Balloon Lumpfish (or Lumpsuckers).

Balloon Lumpfish

These almost-spherical fish belong to the Cyclopteridae family, which comprises almost 30 known species, such as the Smooth Lumpsuckers (Aptocyclus ventricosus) and Pacific Spiny Lumpsuckers (Eumicrotremus orbis).

Recently, S.E.A. Aquarium brought in several Balloon Lumpfish which originated from Hokkaido, Japan. They belong to the species Eumicrotremus pacificus, and are found at depths of up to 232 metres, and can grow up to 20cm long. The water in their habitat is kept at a low 12 degrees Celsius which is similar to their native waters.

Here are some fun facts about these adorable fish.

They stick

Their pelvic fins have evolved into adhesive discs on their undersides which allow them to cling onto various surfaces.

Balloon Lumpfish
Balloon Lumpfish on display at the Epson Shinagawa Aqua Stadium, Tokyo, Japan in 2008. Source

They like it cold

Balloon Lumpfish are found in cold waters, such as that of the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

Balloon Lumpfish

They’re great fathers

In the Balloon Lumpfish’s world, the males pretty much do all the parenting. During breeding season, the males will arrive inshore before the females to prepare a nest in a bedrock crevice or a depression in the sea floor. The females will then deposit some eggs in a nest and leave.

The males then use their suction discs to anchor themselves next to the eggs. For the next 3 – 8 weeks, they will protect the eggs from predators and wave water over them with their fins to ensure they get enough oxygen. Once the eggs hatch, the males return to their solitary lives in the open ocean.

Balloon Lumpfish
Our aquarists hand feed the Balloon Lumpfish with mysid shrimps

They’re delicious

Balloon Lumpfish are an important part of Icelandic cuisine. The males are considered a delicacy, while the females are prized for their eggs as their flesh tastes bad. In Danish cuisine, Lumpfish roe is used as budget caviar.

Balloon Lumpfish
Image source

Currently, the Balloon Lumpfish are housed in the back-of-house area of the Aquarium where they are undergoing further observation before being displayed for public viewing. In the meantime, however, you will be able to see these adorable swimmers up-close when you sign up for our VIP Tour or Aquarist for a Day programme.

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