AskDefine | Define stickleback

Dictionary Definition

stickleback n : small (2-4 inches) pugnacious mostly scaleless spiny-backed fishes of northern fresh and littoral waters having elaborate courtship; subjects of much research [syn: prickleback]

User Contributed Dictionary



stickleback (plural sticklebacks)
  1. Any one of numerous species of small fishes of the genus Gasterosteus and allied genera. The back is armed with two or more sharp spines. They inhabit both salt and brackish water, and construct curious nests.


Extensive Definition

The Gasterosteidae are a family of fish including the sticklebacks. FishBase currently recognises sixteen species in the family, grouped in five genera. However several of the species have a number of recognised subspecies, and the taxonomy of the family is thought to be in need of revision. Although some authorities give the common name of the family as "sticklebacks and tube-snouts", the tube-snouts are currently classified in the related family Aulorhynchidae.
The family includes the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus aculeatus, common in Northern Temperate Climates around the world including Europe, Alaska, and Japan and colloquially known in United Kingdom as the "tiddler", or "sprick". Niko Tinbergen's studies of the behaviour of this fish were important in the early development of ethology as an example of a fixed action pattern.
One unusual features of sticklebacks is that they have no scales, although some species have bony armour plates. They are closely related to pipefish and seahorses.
In Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, the title character catches a stickleback, only to regret his catch and incur the laughter of the tiny fish in his pond.


stickleback in Catalan: Gasterosteid
stickleback in Danish: Hundestejle-familien
stickleback in German: Stichlinge
stickleback in French: Gasterosteidae
stickleback in Ido: Dorno-perko
stickleback in Georgian: მახათასებრნი
stickleback in Lithuanian: Dyglinės
stickleback in Dutch: Stekelbaarzen
stickleback in Norwegian: Stingsild
stickleback in Polish: Ciernikowate
stickleback in Swedish: Spiggar
stickleback in Walloon: Spinokidîs
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