Featured Fish: Fish Eggs!

Crested Blenny Egg

This photo of a Crested Blenny egg was taken by our Bedford, NH, Lab staff. Blenny eggs have sticky discs for attaching to the seafloor. The almost human-like expression on the Crested Blenny egg is captivating—to say the least!

It feels like just a few months ago everyone was talking about eggs—chicken eggs, that is—due to the rising prices at grocery stores. But here in the Bedford Ichthyoplankton Lab, all we talk about are fish eggs! Fish eggs come in a fabulously weird array of shapes and sizes, so for this Featured Fish we thought we’d take you on a fun foray into some of our favorite fish eggs!

So what's fun about fish eggs? Well, when you picture bird eggs, you probably picture the chicken egg; and when you think about fish eggs, you probably picture caviar (sturgeon) or sushi (tobiko, masago, ikura). All bird eggs follow a basic plan that’s perfect for the universal habitat of bird eggs (being under a parent bird!). But fish eggs aren’t incubated like bird eggs: Fish have a host of different strategies for spawning, so they don’t all have to follow the same plan. Some fish eggs drift in the water column, some are designed to be demersal (sit on the bottom substrate), some attach to objects, some attach to each other in gelatinous egg masses, and some are hatched in nests or brooded in a pouch or even their parent’s mouths! There are round eggs, oval eggs, eggs with flat sides, and some even have “hairs” or “spikes”! Some fish eggs have strange textures, some have oil to help them float, some are sticky, and some are smooth! The only rule most fish eggs play by is that they need to be in water—and some eggs bend that rule too!

Here are a few of our favorite fish eggs that we encounter in the lab:

Hogchoker eggs
Round eggs are fairly common and we appreciate a nice, basic egg like these Hogchoker eggs (a type of flatfish), which are filled with tiny droplets of oil.
StripedAnchovy egg
It’s not all about the round eggs though; we also enjoy other shapes, like the almost rice-like Striped Anchovy.
misshapen Winter Flounder egg
The misshapen Winter Flounder, which has a leathery texture, is also one of our favorites.
Sculpin eggs
Eggs laid in masses (like these bottom-dwelling Sculpin eggs) can have flat, disc-like surfaces where the eggs are attached to each other.
flying fish egg
There are also eggs with hair-like filaments all over, like this flying fish egg. Some flying fish species lay their eggs on objects floating on the ocean surface (like seaweed) and these filaments are perfect for anchoring them to flotsam.

This is just a tiny snapshot of the egg-citing array of fish eggs we’ve seen in the Ichthyoplankton lab! It was hard to pick just a few when there were so many egg-cellent options, but we hope you have enjoyed learning about them!

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