Longhorn Sculpin

Longhorn Sculpin - Myoxocephalus octodecimspinosus

*Information from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute*

Longhorn Sculpin
This is a smaller fish than the shorthorn sculpin. It grows to a maximum length of about 18 inches, but only a few of them are more than 10 to 14 inches long. A 10-inch fish weighs about ½ pound, one 12 inches long about 1 pound.
Habitat, biology, and fisheries

Its depth range is relatively wide, abundant in many shoal harbors and bays, where it comes up on the flats at high tide, to leave them at low; and it runs up into estuaries, salt creeks, and river mouths, though never into fresh water. At the other extreme it is caught in considerable numbers down to 50 fathoms or so, and it has been reported as deep as 105 fathoms.

The longhorn evidently is at home in temperatures as high as about 65°-66°, or even a little warmer, in summer in the southern side of Massachusetts Bay. But in localities where the temperature of the upper few feet rises much higher than this they withdraw to somewhat deeper (i. e., cooler) water for the summer, working inshore again in the autumn.

At the other extreme, it is subjected for the coldest part of the year to water as cold as 32°-33°, both in our Gulf, along the Nova Scotian shelf, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while it has been reported from water of 31°-32° F. (-0.3° C.) in the bottom of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. And it seems that even exposure to freezing temperature may not be fatal.

Ripe eggs are about 0.85 mm. in diameter before being laid, but they swell when they come in contact with the water; they are described as varying in color, from coppery green to reddish brown, orange, or purple. The egg masses have been found free on the bottom, in empty clamshells or other cavities, or among the branches of the finger sponge (Chalina) and they are sometimes found thrown up on the beach.

The young fry have been taken in February and March off southern New England, in April on the eastern part of Georges Bank and in the channel between the latter and Browns Bank. 

Captures of many young fry 1½ to 2 inches long in September, and 3 to 3½ inches long in February suggest that the longhorn is about 2 to 2½ inches long at one year of age. 

Omnivorous diet includes shrimps, crabs, amphipods, hydroids, annelid worms, mussels and sundry other mollusks, squids, ascidians, and a considerable list of fish fry, including alewives, cunners, eels, mummichogs, herring, mackerel, menhaden, puffers, launce, scup, silversides, smelts, tomcod, silver hake, and small fry of other sculpins.  A scavenger diet is also common.

The only commercial value this sculpin has had in our Gulf was as bait for lobster pots, for which they were speared formerly in some localities, and caught on hook and line in others. But very few of them are now used in this way. It is a nuisance to cunner and flounder fishermen. 

Coastal waters of eastern North America from eastern Newfoundland, and the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, south regularly to New Jersey, and reported to the Atlantic coast of Virginia.