Sea wolves

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Sea wolves
Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Spinefish (Acanthopterygii)
Perch relatives (Percomorphaceae)
Order : Perch-like (Perciformes)
Subordination : Cottoidei
Partial order : Eel mother relatives (Zoarcales)
Family : Sea wolves
Scientific name
Bonaparte , 1846

The sea ​​wolves (Anarhichadidae, (Gr.) Anar (r) hichas means " smashers ") are a family of eel mother relatives (Zoarcales). There are marine fish that inhabit the seabed of the cold, northern Atlantic with three species and the northern Pacific with two others . Their diet consists of hard-shelled mollusks , crabs , lobsters , sea ​​urchins and other echinoderms .


Sea wolves have a moderately elongated body that is flattened at the rear. Only Anarrhichthys ocellatus has an eel-like, very elongated trunk. The dorsal fin is long and starts right on the back of the head. In the genus Anarhichas it is supported from 69 to 88, in Anarrhichthys from 218 to 250 relatively soft hard rays. The anal fin has 42 to 55 soft rays in Anarhichas , 180 to 233 soft rays in Anarrhichthys , which can be preceded by a single hard ray. The caudal fin has not grown together with the dorsal and anal fin. Ventral fins are absent, the pectoral fins are large and round, with 18 to 24 fin rays. Scales are absent or there are tiny, non-overlapping cycloid scales . A swim bladder is missing. The genus Anarhichas has 72 to 89 vertebrae , Anarrhichthys around 250.

Skull of a sea wolf; Explanation s. Fish skull .
Sea wolf in a public aquarium

The massive head with the very strong jaws is striking, the front part with conical, strong fangs and behind with one or two rows of strong molars. There is only one nostril on each side . The sensory channels on the head are well developed, with age the pores become overgrown.

Depending on the species, sea wolves are 1.12 to 2.40 meters long. A weight of 27.9 kg is documented.

Internal system

There are five types in two genera:

Genus Anarhichas

Overall lengths from 1.12 to 1.80 meters. Fin formula : dorsal 69–88, anal 42–55, pectoral 18–24. 72 to 89 vertebrae.

Genus Anarrhichthys

Total length up to 2.50 meters. Fins formula: dorsal 218–250, anal (I) / 180–233, pectoral 18–24. About 250 vertebrae.


Two species of sea ​​wolf , the striped sea wolf and the spotted sea wolf , are considered valuable food fish in Europe . Their flesh is firm while that of the blue sea wolf is watery. They are caught as by-catch , especially off Iceland , the Faroe Islands and Greenland , and because of their appearance are usually only sold as fillets . In the trade they are known as carbonade fish, kat (t) fish or loachfish . The actual wolffish (scientifically Cobitis taenia L., type of the wolffish family ) lives in fresh water, is not related to the sea wolves and, like the numerous other species within the genus wolffish ( cobitis ), too small as food fish.


  • Joseph S. Nelson : Fishes of the World. 4th edition. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ et al. 2006, ISBN 0-471-25031-7 .
  • Kurt Fiedler: Textbook of Special Zoology, Volume II, Part 2: Fish . Gustav Fischer Verlag Jena, 1991, ISBN 3-334-00339-6 .
  • Bent J. Muus, Jørgen G. Nielsen: The marine fish of Europe in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Atlantic. Kosmos, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-440-07804-3 .


  1. The name is an example of haplology , because it arose from anarrhichichthys (to be thought of): "the smashing, tearing fish".

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