Teleostei (teleosts) > Gadiformes
(Cods) > Lotidae
(Hakes and burbots)
Etymology: Lota: French name for the cod (Ref. 45335); lota: From the French word "la Lotte" meaning codfish (Ref. 10294).
More on author: Linnaeus.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; brackish; demersal; pH range: 7.5 - ? ; dH range: 18 - ?; potamodromous (Ref. 59043); depth range 1 - 700 m (Ref. 1998). Temperate; 4°C - 18°C (Ref. 2059); 78°N - 40°N, 180°W - 180°E
Circumarctic in freshwater (Ref. 1371). Europe: Loire drainage, France eastward to White, Barents and Arctic Sea basins; upper Volga drainage; western Caspian basin; rivers draining to Black Sea; Rhône drainage (France); in Italy native only in Po drainage; eastrward England (now extirpated). In Siberia eastward to River Lena. Reported that populations from eastern Siberia and North America belong to a different species, Lota maculosa (Ref. 59043). North America: Throughout Canada, Alaska and northern USA (south to Pennysylvannia, Kentucky, Missouri, Wyoming and Washington (Ref. 86798).
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 37.5, range 35 - 40 cm
Max length : 152 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 27547); common length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 1371); max. published weight: 34.0 kg (Ref. 27547); max. reported age: 20 years (Ref. 556)
soft rays: 58 - 84;
Vertebrae: 50 - 67. Diagnosed from all other freshwater fishes in Europe by its pelvic fin origin anterior to pectoral fin origin and by having one central barbel on lower jaw (Ref. 59043). Distinguished by the long second dorsal fin, at least 6 times as long as the first, and a single barbel on the chin (Ref. 27547). Gill rakers short (Ref. 27547). First dorsal short; second dorsal and anal fins joined to caudal; pectorals short and rounded; caudal rounded (Ref. 27547), with 40 rays (Ref. 2196). Color is yellow, light tan to brown with a pattern of dark brown or black on the body, head and fins (Ref. 1371). Pelvic fins pale, others dark and mottled (Ref. 27547).
The only member of Lotidae family which lives in freshwater. Crepuscular and nocturnal (Ref. 11941). Adults are found in well oxygenated flowing waters and large, deep lakes as well as large rivers with slow-moving current (Ref. 5723, 10294). They occur from estuaries of large lowland rivers as well as from small mountain streams, preferring deep waters in summer (Ref. 59043). They seek shelter under rocks, in crevices on the river banks, among roots of trees and dense vegetation (Ref. 30578, 10294). Those in rivers tend to congregate in deep holes throughout the year, except at spawning (Ref. 27547). Movements into shallower water during summer nights are related to feeding (Ref. 1998). Smaller individuals feed on insect larvae, crayfish, mollusks and other invertebrates with a changing preference for fishes in larger individuals (Ref. 1998, 10294). In Central Europe, males mature at 2 years while females at 3 years (Ref. 59043). Spawning occurs from November to March, at temperatures below 6°C in groups of up to 20 interlaced individuals forming a ball about 60 cm in diameter which constantly moves and rolls on the bottom while releasing eggs and sperms (Ref. 59043). May undertake short spawning migrations (Ref. 59043). Eggs are semipelagic, 1.2-1.8 mm in diameter and slightly sticky hatching after 40-70 days (Ref. 59043). Larvae are positively phototactic, floating below the surface in March and April (Ref. 59043). Larvae feed on drifting invertebrates or zooplankton (Ref. 59043). Source of oil. Sold mainly salted. Liver is sold smoked or canned in Europe (Ref. 1998). Processed into fishmeal (Ref. 1998). Because of its nocturnal habits and its slow movements, this fish is not very much appreciated by sport fishermen. Flesh is tasty but a little dry (Ref. 30578). Locally threatened due to river regulation (Ref. 59043).
There appears to be individual movements into spawning areas with the males arriving first at spawning areas (Ref. 27547). It occurs at night, with spawners forming a great globular mass, each pushing toward the center (Ref. 28694), or at least milling around close together (Ref. 28697), releasing eggs or sperm. Observed to make postspawning runs upriver, apparently for feeding (Ref. 28697). Eggs hatch after 40-70 days. After about 2 months, juveniles are benthic, grow rapidly, reach about 8 cm SL within first year. (Ref. 59043).
Cohen, D.M., T. Inada, T. Iwamoto and N. Scialabba, 1990. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 10. Gadiform fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cods, hakes, grenadiers and other gadiform fishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(10). Rome: FAO. 442 p. (Ref. 1371)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 126983)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: experimental; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums