Esox niger, Chain pickerel : gamefish

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Esox niger Lesueur, 1818

Chain pickerel
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Image of Esox niger (Chain pickerel)
Esox niger
Female picture by N. Burkhead & R. Jenkins, courtesy of VDGIF

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

Teleostei (teleosts) > Esociformes (Pikes and mudminnows) > Esocidae (Pikes)
Etymology: Esox: From Greek, isox and also related with the Celtic root, eog, ehawc = salmon (Ref. 45335);  niger: niger meaning black (Ref. 10294).
More on author: Lesueur.

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

Freshwater; demersal; pH range: ? - 22.0; non-migratory; depth range ? - 6 m (Ref. 39106). Temperate; 10°C - 20°C (Ref. 2059); 46°N - 25°N

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

North America: Nova Scotia, Canada (introduced) to southern Florida, USA; Gulf coast west to Sabine Lake drainage in Louisiana, USA; Mississippi River basin north to Kentucky and Missouri, USA. Introduced to Lakes Ontario and Erie drainages and elsewhere.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 16 - ? cm
Max length : 99.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723); common length : 41.9 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193); max. published weight: 4.3 kg (Ref. 4699); max. reported age: 9 years (Ref. 12193)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 17-21; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 11 - 13; Vertebrae: 49 - 54. Body rather slender, somewhat compressed, deepest near middle. Head large, naked, and depressed above, profile slightly concave over snout; snout long, broad, and rounded; mouth large, nearly horizontal; lower jaw projecting; maxillary extending to, or slightly beyond anterior margin of pupil. Lateral teeth on lower jaw and vomer enlarged. Cheek and opercle fully scaled. Gill rakers on lateral and media surfaces of arches. Pigmentation: Greenish above, sometimes very dark, venter pale; scales above with golden luster; laterally with light areas enclosed by dark chain-like markings; dark upper side interrupted by light vertical bars; suborbital bar almost vertical or with slight posterior slant; rays of dorsal, anal, pectorals, and pelvic fins with light interradial membranes, caudal fin base marbled with dark pigment, tips dusky; pupil of eye yellow.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Live in vegetated lakes, swamps, and backwaters and quiet pools of creeks and small to medium rivers (Ref. 26373). Also found in deep, cold water with little or no vegetation (Ref. 39109, 39108). Adults migrate to deeper water during winter (Ref. 39110, 39097, 39111) undertaking shoreward spawning migrations soon after spring ice disappears (Ref. 39109). Oviparous (Ref. 205). Juveniles tend to lie motionless near shore or burrow themselves in mud beneath debris (Ref. 39112). Larvae hide among vegetation (Ref. 39113). Oviparous, with pelagic eggs.

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

Oviparous (Ref. 205).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Crossman, E.J., 1996. Taxonomy and distribution. p. 1-11. In J.F. Craig (ed.) Pike biology and exploration. Chapman and Hall, London. 298 p. (Ref. 26373)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 01 December 2011


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Gamefish: yes
FAO - Publication: search | FishSource |

More information

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 | Zoobank | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5157   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00479 (0.00259 - 0.00884), b=3.07 (2.91 - 3.23), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.3   ±0.46 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (tm=1-4; tmax=9; Fec=936).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (58 of 100).