Thymallus arcticus, Arctic grayling : fisheries, gamefish

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Thymallus arcticus (Pallas, 1776)

Arctic grayling
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Thymallus arcticus
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Salmoniformes (Salmons) > Salmonidae (Salmonids) > Thymallinae
Etymology: Thymallus: Greek, thymallos, -ou = a kind of fish similar to salmon (Ref. 45335);  arcticus: arcticus meaning of the arctic (Ref. 1998).
More on author: Pallas.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Freshwater; benthopelagic; depth range 30 - ? m (Ref. 5723). Temperate; 71°N - 44°N

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North America: widespread in Arctic drainages from Hudson Bay, Canada to Alaska and in Arctic and Pacific drainages to central Alberta and British Columbia in Canada; upper Missouri River drainage in Montana, USA. Formerly in Great Lakes basin in Michigan, USA (Ref. 5723). Arctic Ocean basin in Siberia from Ob to Yenisei drainages and in Europe in some tributaries of Pechora (Usa, Kosyu, Kozhim), Korotaikha and Kara (Ref. 59043).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 24.5, range 23 - 26 cm
Max length : 76.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723); common length : 34.3 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193); max. published weight: 3.8 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 18 years (Ref. 33969)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 17-25; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 11 - 15; Vertebrae: 58 - 62. Distinguished by its greatly enlarged dorsal fin and its small mouth, which has fine teeth on both jaws (Ref. 27547). Dorsal greatly enlarged in adults (especially males), reaching adipose fin when depressed, but is shorter in females; pelvic fins rather long, reach anal fin in adult males, but not in females; lower lobe of caudal often longer than upper (Ref. 27547). A strikingly colored fish, the dorsal surface is dark purple, or blue black to blue gray, the sides gray to dark blue with pinkish iridescence, the ventral surface gray to white (Ref. 1998). Scattered dark spots on sides, these being more numerous on the young; a dark longitudinal stripe along lower sides between pectoral and pelvic fins; dorsal fin dark with narrow purple edge (rows of reddish to orange or purple to green spots on body of fin); pelvic fins dark with irregular diagonal orange-yellow stripes; adipose, dorsal, anal, caudal and pectorals dusky to dark (Ref. 27547).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Inhabits open water of clear, cold, medium to large rivers and lakes. Enters rocky creeks to spawn (Ref. 5723). Occurs in piedmont and montane cold streams, rivers and lakes with high oxygen concentrations (Ref. 59043). Forms schools in moderate numbers (Ref. 9988). Young feed on zooplankton with a gradual shift to immature insects; adults feed mainly on surface insects but also take in fishes, fish eggs, lemmings, and planktonic crustaceans (Ref. 1998). Spawns in montane streams with heavy current on shallows with rock-gravel bottom (Ref. 59043). Utilized fresh and can be fried, broiled, boiled, and baked (Ref. 9988).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Spawning adults move into tributaries and males establish territories. At spawning, the male follows a female, courting her with displays of his dorsal fin. He then drifts over beside her and curves his extended dorsal fin over the female. The pair vibrates and release eggs and milt. No redd is constructed, but the vibrations of the tails during the spawning act stirs up the substrate and produce a slight depression (Ref. 28876, 28879, 28880, 28881, 28882). A female may spawn only once, or several times in different areas (Ref. 1998). After spawning, adults establish summer territories in pools generally farther upstream from the spawning site, majority moving downstream in mid-September (Ref. 28885, 28886).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

McClanes, A.J. (ed.), 1974. Field guide to freshwater fishes of North America. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. 212 p. (Ref. 3221)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 01 January 2008


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO - Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

Common names
Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


Special reports

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Internet sources

AFORO (otoliths) | Alien/Invasive Species database | Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | BOLDSystems | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes: genus, species | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | FAO - Publication: search | Faunafri | Fishipedia | Fishtrace | GenBank: genome, nucleotide | GloBI | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | Socotra Atlas | Tree of Life | Wikipedia: Go, Search | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5001   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00832 (0.00589 - 0.01175), b=3.09 (3.00 - 3.18), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.3   ±0.2 se; based on diet studies.
Generation time: 7.3 (5.5 - 9.2) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 10 growth studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.10-0.23; tm=2-6; tmax=18; Fec=416).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Moderate to high vulnerability (51 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.
Nutrients (Ref. 124155):  Calcium = 30.1 [7.9, 61.1] mg/100g; Iron = 0.678 [0.213, 1.553] mg/100g; Protein = 18.6 [16.8, 20.3] %; Omega3 = 1.91 [0.63, 6.48] g/100g; Selenium = 59.2 [22.5, 181.7] μg/100g; VitaminA = 23.2 [6.6, 69.7] μg/100g; Zinc = 0.709 [0.384, 1.339] mg/100g (wet weight); based on nutrient studies.